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How Do I Test For Radon?

Radon enters the home from the ground beneath a property and is odourless and invisible but you can test for it. A radon measurement is easy to complete, make sure you use a validated laboratory. PHE runs the validation scheme for laboratories and is a validated laboratory too.

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Where Is Radon Gas Found?

Radon is everywhere; formed from the uranium in all rocks and soils. Outdoors everywhere and indoors in many areas the radon levels are low and the risk to health is small. The darker the colour on the radon maps, the greater the chance of a high radon level in a building. However not all buildings, even in the darkest areas, have high levels.

You can see how badly your area is affected by Radon by looking on this map

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How Can I Measure Radon In My Home?

The amount of radon varies over time and from room to room. It is possible to check whether you are in a radon affected area by checking the latest radon risk report which can be purchased from Public Health England but this will only show the probability that you are in a radon affected area.

If you want accurate results that your property is affected by radon gas then it is best to carry out a test over three months to allow for variations in levels.

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What Is A Safe Level?

Radon is measured in units called becquerels, and these are calculated per cubic metre. Generally speaking, a level below 100 Bq/m³ is considered low risk, and the UK average is far below this at 20 Bq/m³. As the radon level rises past the 100 Bq/m³ point, the risk begins to increase.

Testing radon levels is simple, and merely involves placing a radon testing device in your home for at least 7 days to ensure an accurate reading is gathered.

If you live in an area where radon gas levels are likely to be high, it is recommended that you test your home.

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. 

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Testing For Radon Gas

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.

A radon measurement is easy to complete, make sure you use a validated laboratory . PHE runs the validation scheme for laboratories and is a validated laboratory too. If you wish to purchase a test you can visit the UK Radon website. You will then be posted two detectors to place in your home: one in the living area and one in an occupied bedroom.

After three months you post the detectors back to UK Radon in the pre-paid envelope provided. Public Health for England can analyse the detectors and post the results to you: the cost is £51.60 inc. VAT.

Whichever type of kit you choose, make sure it complies with relevant industry standards.

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How do you set up the Radon kit?

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.

How do you test for radon?

  • First test your home with a short-term test, this will take between 2 and 90 days.
  • Test for radon in the lowest level of your home where people spend time. 
  • If your home has a radon level of 4 or higher, it’s time to take action. There is no safe level of radon, so you may still want to fix your home if the radon level is between 2 and 4.
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What to do if Your Home Has Radon

The EPA recommends doing a second test if an initial short-term test registers 4 picoCuries per liter (pCi/L) or higher. A long-term test will give you the most accurate information, but a short-term test is acceptable if you need the results quickly, such as for a real estate transaction, or your first levels registered 8 pCi/L or higher.

If a second test registers above 4 pCi/L, consider taking steps to reduce radon levels in your home.

It is also possible for radon to enter your home through your water supply, though this is a much lower risk than radon entering your home through the soil. If you have a private well, you can have it tested for radon. If the levels are high, you can have the water supply treated so that the radon is removed before it enters your home. If you are concerned about radon and your water comes from a public water supply, you should contact your supplier.

As with most home repairs, the cost of reducing radon in your home can vary widely, depending on how your home is built. 

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Six Important Radon Facts

1) Radon is odourless and tasteless meaning you can't smell it so can never know if you are in the presence of Radon gas. 

2) Radon is a gas, meaning it can easily seep into your home without you knowing.

3) There is a 'safe-level' of Radon, a level below 100 Bq/m³ is considered low risk, and the UK average is far below this at 20 Bq/m³. As the radon level rises past the 100 Bq/m³ point, the risk begins to increase.

4) Some parts of the UK are worse affected than others. You can explore this Radon interactive map to see how badly your area is. 

5) Radon can cause lung cancer. Overall, radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer. Radon is responsible for about 21,000 lung cancer deaths every year. About 2,900 of these deaths occur among people who have never smoked. 

6) Radon levels can be reduced, simply by installing a ventilation system you can drastically reduce the level of Radon in your property. 

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What Can You Do?

If you find out that your home contains high levels of radon gas, don't panic! There are simple solutions to reduce the amount of radon, and keep you and your family safe.

Some simple actions such as sealing around loft-hatches, sealing large openings in floors and extra ventilation do not reduce radon levels on their own. When combined with other effective measures, they can improve the reduction of radon levels. Completely sealing floors is difficult and can cause rot in wooden floors.

At EnviroVent, we offer a range of ventilation systems for your whole house, which improve your air quality and effectively deal with radon.

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