Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) 

About RADON GAS

The following is presented as a public service by RADON.COM



This page is updated periodically from queries we receive online. Be sure you check out our Radon Facts page for some general and scientific information. If you need more, try following some of the links on our Radon Links page.

 


The following is presented as a public service by RADON.COM


Q.
 Where can I find radon test kits?
A.
Air Chek test kits and other testing products are available here. Our test kits have been used over 2 Million times since 1986 and we remain the industry's low cost leader.

We offer radon tests for the do-it-yourselfer, radon professionals, real estate testing, We also offer long term radon test kits, open land radon tests, and radon in water testing. Click here to purchase on-line through the Air Chek Web Store.
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Q.
 What is the 'acceptable' level of radon?
A.

The US EPA has established the "action level" for deciding when you need to "do something" about the radon in your home, school, or work place is 4 pCi/l. pCi/l= picocuries per liter, the most popular method of reporting radon levels. For those interested in the numbers, a picoCurie is 0.000,000,000,001 (one-trillionth) of a Curie, an international measurement unit of radioactivity. One pCi/l means that in one liter of air there will be 2.2 radioactive disintegrations each minute. For example, at 4 pCi/l there will be approximately 12,672 radioactive disintegrations in one liter of air, during a 24-hour period.

4 pCi/l is the level accepted by most states and US territories, except for New Jersey. New Jersey's DEP has tried to establish 2 pCi/l as the acceptable action level in their state.

In other countries, the action levels range from 150 Bq m3, that is slightly less than 4 pCi/l (Bq=bequerels is an international method of measuring radiation. Again, you can view a conversion schedule from some or our 'scientific links'.) up to 'no limit' or preset action level. For example, in Canada the "suggested" action level is 400 Bq m3.

You can read or download a copy of the US EPA's A Citizen's Guide to Radon This publication goes into greater detail describing the meaning of your radon test results and what your personal hazard from the exposure may be.

You can read some the varying opinions of what the action level should be by visiting some to the links on our "Radon Links" page. Or if you want to know what the US EPA's "Official" position is, go to the EPA's Radon Health Risks Frequently Asked Questions
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Q.
 What does a person do when they find high radon levels in their home?
A.
We'll answer this by first asking:

Have you retested to confirm that the radon levels are actually too high? (Do you have an average of over 4 pCi/l from the results of two or more short-term tests or from one long-term test of 90 days or more.)

If you have, then you need to ask yourself:

Are you going to try and fix the problem yourself?

If so, there is a wealth of information available by viewing the US EPA slide show we have here on the site. You also may want to order Doug Kladder's book Protecting Your Home From Radon. Doug and his team helped the US EPA put together their radon mitigation training course and they also developed the EPA's slide show.

You can go over the book's TOC at: A Step-By-Step Manual For Radon Reduction. This book is the most complete source of information on radon mitigation techniques currently available.

If you decide to tackle the problem yourself and are looking for Do-it-Yourself radon mitigation help,
Infiltec and Dave Saum can help with the best advice, supplies, and fair pricing. Their web page Mitigation FAQ is an excellent source of radon mitigation information. Dave and his partner Mark Messing have been very influential in helping the US EPA establish radon mitigation standards. Dave's direct line is 1 (703) 820-7696 or click on the link above to visit their web site.

If none of the above is for you and you intend to hire a contractor (the cost will most likely run from $700 to $2500, according to the size of the building, etc.) then you may want to call your state radon officer and ask for a list of approved "Radon Mitigation Contractors." All of the state phone numbers are listed at the US EPA site under State Radon Contacts.

If you want to locate an EPA listed mitigation contractor yourself, you will find a list of Residential Radon Mitigation Service Providers here. Once there, click on your state and then when that pages loads, click on "By Zip Code" at the top of the page. You can page down to find the zip codes nearest you or use your browser's search function to find them. Good Luck and be careful. We do NOT endorse any of these and it is a wise person who gets more than one estimate!!!

For some official information on how to deal with a radon problem in your home check out the EPA's Consumer's Guide to Radon Reduction

Or you may want to call the Radon Fix-it Line operated by the Consumer Federation of America (CFA) at 1-800-644-6999. They provide guidance and encouragement to consumers with elevated radon levels and will try to answer some of your most pressing questions. The Fix-it Line is only answered between noon and 8pm, Monday through Friday EST.
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The following is presented as a public service by AIRCHEK.COM


Q.
 I'm thinking of buying a home with a radon mitigation system in place. What should I look for in order to make certain is working properly?
A.
You can get the basic information on what to look for by going through the US EPA slide show. Click on the link at the left to start. Check out Unit Three for system design and other details.

You may want to call in a licensed radon mitigation contractor and ask that he inspect the system. You can get a list of the approved contractors from your state radon officer. Their phone number is listed at State Radon Contacts.
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Q.
 What are the advantages or disadvantages to having a radon mitigation system?
A.
The primary advantage is that you will have lower in-home radon levels if the system was installed correctly and it is operating properly.

A secondary advantage, at least in many parts of the world, is that you will see a much lower level of humidity (dampness) inside the building, especially in houses with basements or slab-on-grade floors. The type of mitigation system will be a factor in this situation. In other words, if the system is an active "sub-slab-suction" design or has incorporated a vapor barrier over the bare soil, then this may be one of the additional benefits. In many cases, we have heard of folks getting rid of their dehumidifier after seeing how dry the basement was after switching on their mitigation system.

One of the disadvantages is that you will pay a small energy penalty with an active design because of the energy required to run the small fan. (Most will only draw about 50 watts.) There is also a small amount of reverse flow of inside (conditioned) air that you may have paid to heat or cool. Another possible problem, in a poor installation, is that you may be able to hear the fan running. Fortunately, this complaint is seldom heard and if it is, it is usually easily fixed.
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Q.
 We are thinking of selling our house and buying another. Where can we get some guidance on what to do about a potential radon problem at either location?
A.

You can download a copy of the EPA's Home Buyer's and Seller's Guide to Radon This pamphlet is loaded with testing suggestions and other information that you should find very helpful.
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Q.
 How do you test for radon and can I do it myself?
A.
The fastest way to test for radon would be to call in a local professional home inspector who offers a radon testing service. The cost to have a professional conduct your radon test may run as high as $300.00, according what part of the country your are in.

However, if you choose to conduct the radon test yourself, you may be able to find radon tests at your local hardware store or home center. The average retail price runs form $20 to $30 and may require additional fees for analysis. Mail order prices are often significantly lower, and some companies, such as Air Chek Inc., charge no additional fees for analysis. Most radon tests are very simple to use and can be performed by almost anyone.

During the past 12 years we have processed over a million test samples that were sent to us by first time users of a radon test kit. Judging from the high success rate of over 95%, I would say that if someone takes five minutes to study the simple instructions, their chances of doing it right the first time are better than 99%. In other words, most problems occur simply because the user did not read the instructions or they got in a hurry and forgot to put their name and address on the sample or they overlooked sealing the sample before shipping it to the lab.
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Q.
 What are the most commonly used radon testing methods?
A.
There are two main methods used to test for radon gas and radon daughter products. The most popular involves the use of a "passive" device such as an activated charcoal test kit which collects radon gas atoms for counting later in a laboratory or an alpha track device that has a small strip of special plastic that is "marked" when hit by radon's alpha particles (also counted later in a laboratory). Another passive device called an electret has a plastic disc with a static charge. This type is only used by professional radon inspectors because of the expertise required and the expensive equipment needed for analysis.

The other main method involves the use of an "active" device called a CRM (continuous radon monitor). These are mostly used by professional radon inspectors for short-term (two days or 48 hours) radon testing during a real estate transaction. There are many different models of CRMs, too many to discuss in this medium, but they all require some formal training in order to be used properly.

The biggest differences between these radon testing methods (passive and active) are the cost and the level of expertise required for proper operation. The only devices suitable for the do-it-yourself radon tester are the activated charcoal test kits and the alpha track detectors. Simplicity, ease of use and low cost are the reasons more than 250,000 of the devices are used by the general public each year to test their homes and work places. Their main purpose is for a radon screening measurement by homeowners who want to know if there is a potential radon problem in the home. The US EPA has established a guideline for do-it-yourself radon test kit accuracy of +/- 25%. This equates to +/- one picocurie at the EPA's action level of 4 picocuries per liter of air in the home. This level of accuracy is easily accomplished when using most do-it-yourself devices, IF the user carefully follows the instructions

By far the most popular is a screening test that uses an activated charcoal test kit. It is estimated nearly 95% of all the radon testing in the US is conducted this way.
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Q.
 How does the Air Chek test kit work?
Is it difficult to use?

A.
We have a page with our charcoal based test kit, plus complete animated instructions. Operation is neat, quick and simple.
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Q.
 Where can I buy an Air Chek test kit locally?
A.
Our most popular do-it-yourself 4 to 7 day test kit is not carried in many stores. However, most state and local health departments stock our kits at very competitive prices (and some give them away for free so check your's out). Another local source may be your area's ALA (American Lung Association).
We also supply most of the test kits for the US EPA's Radon Hotline 800-SOS-RADON that is handled by the The National Safety Council.
If you are performing a radon test for a real estate transaction or need quick results for any other reasons, call our toll-free number 800-AIR-CHEK for Fedex shipping. You may also place your order using our Online Store . All express orders received online before 1:00 PM EST,M-F (excluding national holidays) are shipped the same day. Express shipping may be available after 1:00 PM for phone orders.
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Visit the Air Chek website at RADON.COM


Q.
 Where can I get some information on radon in water?
A.
The following is from the US EPA's Citizen's Guide to Radon:
(Items in parentheses were added by the author.)

RADON IN WATER

If you've tested the air in your home and found a radon problem, and your water comes from a well, you should have your water tested for radon.

Compared with radon entering the home through soil, radon entering the home through water will in most cases be a small source of risk. Radon gas can enter the home through well water. It can be released into the air you breathe when water is used for showering and other household uses. Research suggests that swallowing water with high radon levels may pose risks, too, although risks from swallowing water containing radon are believed to be much lower than those from breathing air containing radon.

While radon in water is not a problem in homes served by most public water supplies, it has been found in well water. If you've tested the air in your home and found a radon problem, and your water comes from a well, contact a lab certified to measure radiation in water to have your water tested.

(You can order a do-it-yourself radon-in-water test kit for $19.95 by clicking on "Test Devices" at the left.)

If you're on a public water supply (that is pumped from a well) and are concerned that radon may be entering your home through the water, call your public water supplier.

Radon problems in water can be readily fixed. The most effective treatment is to remove radon from the water before it enters the home. This is called point-of-entry treatment. Treatment at your water tap is called point-of-use treatment. Unfortunately, point-of-use treatment will not reduce most of the inhalation risk from radon.

Call your State Radon Contact or the EPA Drinking Water Hot line (800-426-4791) for more information on radon in water. (Most areas of the US do NOT have a radon-in-water problem, therefore you should contact your state radon office before concerning yourself with this hazard.)
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Q.
 What method of analysis does Air Chek use to determine radon concentration?
A.
For information surrounding the analysis procedures used by the Air Chek Laboratory, go to Radon Analysis Procedures
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Q.
 Are there other symptoms or health problems, other than lung cancer that are associated with radon gas exposure?
A.

We receive this question from a lot of folks who have been suffering from various health problems and the basic answer is THERE ARE NO SHORT-TERM RADON EXPOSURE SYMPTOMS that have ever been documented. At least not at the levels you are likely to see in a home, school, or office. Also, YOU WILL NOT HAVE ANY OTHER bodily symptoms such as joint pain, stomach or intestinal problems, headaches, or rashes from short-term radon exposure at natural environmental levels.
It will take years of exposure at relatively high levels before you are likely to have ANY symptoms and then the only known (documented) symptoms are the same as those listed here for smoking induced Lung Cancer Symptoms.
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Q.
 How great are a person's chances of getting lung cancer from radon?
A.
This is still subject to debate. To view a Radon-Lung Cancer study conducted by Air Chek, go to A Lung Cancer Study. Also, on our Radon Links page, there are other sources of information.
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Visit the Radon Information Center at RADON.COM


Q.
 Where can I get copies of the EPA's publications about radon?
A.
You can download any of the US EPA pamphlets from their web site. This link will take you to the most popular one: A Citizen's Guide to Radon From this page you can get a listing of all the others.

If you have further questions about Radon, please call your State Radon Contact or the National Radon Information Line at: 1-800-SOS-RADON [1 (800) 767-7236]
or The Radon FIX-IT Program at: 1-800-644-6999
The Radon Fix-it Line provides guidance and encouragement to consumers with elevated radon levels of 4 pCi/L or higher to take the necessary steps toward fixing their homes. The Fix-it Line is available to assist consumers between noon and
8pm, Monday through Friday EST.
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Q.
 Is there an EPA map showing the radon levels for the US?
A.
View the answer for this question
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Q.
 Where can I find some information about other types of radiation?
A.
This link will take you to The Radiation Information Network..This site is maintained for the use by anyone with interests in radiation. All of the material has been reviewed and is believed to represent the current consensus of the facts on radiation and radiation protection.
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Q.

 Does radon come from any of the building's material?
A.
There may be a few building materials that will emit small amounts of radon gas such as granite, concrete, gypsum board (sheet rock), bricks, and field stone. However, this is RARELY the case. This is because most such materials are very dense. This means that if there is some radon producing radium in these materials, only a small amount of the radon gas, near the surface, ever makes it out into the environment. Most of the radon gas decays away while trapped below the surface.

(Radon gas has about a 92 hour half-life and in 8 half-lives most of it is "dead.")

In almost all cases of elevated indoor radon levels, the culprit is the underlying soil. However, we have heard of a few homes that have all the walls built of stone, that have almost NO indoor radon and a few that have elevated levels. It is not easy to determine if the radon is coming from only the walls or if it is a combination of the walls and the underlying soil. To know for sure requires a skillful tester using some expensive equipment.
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