Exposure to radon gas can be harmful to respiratory health, but as the gas is odourless, you can't directly tell if it is present in your home. The only way to know if radon gas is making its way into your home through a building's materials or foundations is to carry out a test.
There are various types of testing kits to check for radon in the home. You can test this yourself, or call in the experts, if you want to get professional assistance.
Home radon gas testing kits are straightforward to use, and include liquid scintillation vials, charcoal canisters or electronic monitors. The type of kit you choose should be influenced by whether you want to take a short or long-term test. For most homeowners, a short-term radon test is perfectly adequate and measures levels for up to a week.
Whichever type of kit you choose, make sure it complies with relevant industry standards.
In order to ensure your kit produces accurate and reliable results, you need to have certain conditions in place. Exposure to outside air can influence the results, so close windows and doors, and turn off heating systems or fans that extract air from outside, at least 12 hours beforehand. It's also worth avoiding using the kit on a stormy or windy day. You can still use heating systems or fans that re-circulate air from inside.
Set the radon testing kit up in a room that you use most often. This room should not suffer from humidity as this can interfere with the results, so avoid the kitchen or bathroom.
Place the kit approximately 20 inches off the ground, such as on a table. Read the instructions and note how long you need to leave the kit in place. The electronic radon testers are very easy to use and you simply need to insert the battery and it begins to measure the radon levels indoors. The manual radon tester kits require a bit more effort although they do work out cheaper, you will need to follow the instructions precisely to ensure that the readings are correct. If you're using vials, these should be set around six inches apart from each other.
If you use an electronic radon testing kit, this will display the results in real time. Other types of kits will require you to send it off to a lab immediately after the end of the testing period. You'll then receive the results a few weeks later by post or email.
The results will be displayed by measuring picocuries per litre of air (pCi/L). If your reading comes back with anything over 3.5 pCi/L, this means that radon gas could be present in your home. As a first measure, you may need to do more testing, as results can often vary. You may wish to use a different test, or seek professional testing.
Where radon gas is present in a home, there are a number of products available that can help to tackle this potentially hazardous problem.
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