Living with high amounts of radon in your home can have devastating health effects, but how do you test for something you cannot see or smell? With a radon test kit, of course. Here we will show you how they work, how accurate they are, and review the best short and long-term kits.
- How do radon test kits work?
- The best radon test kits
- What are the differences between the various home radon test kits?
- What is the difference between long and short term radon gas test kits?
- How long does a short-term radon test take?
- How often should I complete a radon test?
- How long can I store a radon test kit?
- What should I do if the radon test kits detect radon in my home?
|Product||Brand||Duration||Laboratory Turnaround time||Price|
|First Alert||Short term||72 hours|
|Accustar||Short term||72 hours|
|Health Metric||Short term||3-5 Working days|
|Pro-Lab||Long term||7 Working days|
|Radonova Radtrak³||Long term||3-5 Working days|
How do radon test kits work?
Short and long-term DIY radon test kits use different methods of measuring the amount of radon in the air. Regardless of the method used, results are given in picoCuries per liter (pCi/L).
It’s important to note that there are no safe levels of radon and each country has a different level that it regards as acceptable. In the US, the acceptable level is 4 pCi/L.
Short-term tests: Short term tests use activated charcoal. The atoms in the gas stick to the charcoal and are counted in a laboratory.
Long-term tests: Long-term tests make use of Alpha track devices, which works the same way as the charcoal method. The only difference is that instead of the gas atoms sticking to charcoal, it sticks to a special type of tape, which is also counted in a laboratory.
Radon inspector testing: When using the services of a professional radon inspector, they will use an electret, which is a disc that uses an electrical charge. These devices are expensive and require a trained professional to use it.
The best radon test kits
There are many radon gas test kits on the market, which is why we have reviewed 5 of the best – 3 short-term kits from First Alert, Health Metric and Accustar and 2 long-term kits from Pro-Lab and Radonova Radtrak³.
Just keep in mind that if you happen to live in a radon problem area, you may want to consider getting a detector system instead.
First Alert radon gas test kit
The First Alert Radon Test Kit is not only the easiest and safest way to test for radon gas, but it is also approved by the EPA.
It’s a short-term test that makes use of the activated charcoal method. To use, simply place the test on the floor of the lowest part of your home or business and leave it for 2 to 4 days. When done, put the test in the envelope (provided with your purchase) and mail it back to the First Alert lab. The results will be emailed back to you within 72 hours of them receiving your sample.
Your purchase includes the test, a self-addressed envelope, lab fees, and clear instructions on what to do should your test results come back positive.
The product weighs just under 4 ounces and has dimensions of 8.38 x 6.5 x 8.38 inches.
Radon test kit from Accustar
This radon gas test kit from Accustar gets placed on the floor on the lowest part of your home and is left for 2 to 4 days. Afterward, place the test in the included envelope and send it to the lab for analysis. You will get your results within a few days.
Your purchase includes the test, a self-addressed envelope, clear instructions, and the lab analysis fee is included in the price.
The product weighs just under 5 ounces and has dimensions of 4.69 x 4.41 x 1.57 inches.
Health Metric radon test kit
If you’re looking for an easy-to-use radon testing kit for your home or office, then this product might just be what you need. The kit is simple to set up and includes everything you need to check for radon in your environment.
This kit comes with free lab testing, which means you won’t have to pay any extra fees to get your results. Expect your lab results within 3-5 working days after the lab receives your sample.
Also, this testing kit is made in the USA, which adds to its credibility and accuracy. With millions of detectors analyzed, this kit is one of the most reliable radon measurement devices on the market. Your radon sample will be analyzed by a NRPP-certified US lab with extensive experience testing for radon since 1983.
The product weighs 2.64 ounces and has dimensions of 4.9 x 6.7 x 0.8 inches.
Pro-Lab long-term radon test kit
The easy to use long-term test kit from Pro-Lab tests for radon with alpha track technology. To use, place it at least two feet from the floor and away from windows, and leave it undisturbed for 3 to 12 months.
When done, place the test in the included envelope and send it off to the lab for analysis. Postage is paid, but you will have to pay an additional $40 for the lab analysis.
Results will be available within 7 working days.
The product weighs 2.4 ounces and has dimensions of 0.8 x 5 x 8 inches.
Radonova Radtrak³ long-term radon test kit
The Radonova Radtrak³ long-term radon test kit has easy-to-follow instructions and allows you to set up and register the test in just a few minutes. Once up and running, it measures daily fluctuations over a period of 90 days up to one year.
The best thing about this kit is the accuracy of the readings it provides, as it ensures that you get reliable and accurate results while minimizing the risk of false high or low readings. And when it’s time to send your gas detector back for lab analysis, Radonova covers the cost of shipping and analysis, making the process simple and hassle-free.
As a global leader in radon testing, Radonova has been providing superior sensitivity for accurate readings across 50 different countries. The package includes a radon gas detector, instructions for registration, and return postage.
The lab analysis and reporting included with this kit are completed by an accredited laboratory and manufacturer. Radonova is EPA approved and has a reputation for reliability and accuracy.
The product weighs 2.89 ounces and has dimensions of 2.5 x 2.5 x 1 inches.
What are the differences between the various home radon test kits?
Home radon test kits come in different types, each with its own features, advantages, and limitations. Here are some key differences between the various types of home radon test kits:
Short-term vs. long-term testing:
Short-Term Tests: These kits provide a snapshot of radon levels over a brief period, usually 2 to 7 days. They are convenient for quick assessments and initial screenings.
Long-Term Tests: These kits measure radon levels over an extended period, typically 90 days to one year. They offer a more accurate representation of long-term average radon concentrations.
Activated charcoal vs. continuous monitors:
Activated Charcoal Tests: These kits use activated charcoal to adsorb radon gas during the test period. After exposure, the charcoal is sent to a laboratory for analysis. They are cost-effective and suitable for both short-term and long-term testing.
Continuous Radon Monitors (CRM): These electronic devices provide real-time or near-real-time radon measurements. They require batteries or electrical power and offer convenience for short-term testing.
Passive vs. active tests:
Passive Tests: Activated charcoal tests and alpha-track detectors are examples of passive tests. They do not require power to function and are easy to use.
Active Tests: Continuous radon monitors (CRM) are active tests that require power to operate. They provide ongoing readings and offer more immediate results.
Accuracy and precision:
Long-term tests and continuous monitors generally offer more accurate and reliable results compared to short-term tests. Accuracy can also vary depending on the specific test kit and its calibration.
Ease of Use: Short-term tests and passive kits are typically simpler to use and require minimal setup. Continuous monitors may require more initial setup and interaction.
Short-term tests are usually more affordable, making them suitable for initial screenings or budget-conscious individuals. Continuous radon monitors and long-term tests may have slightly higher upfront costs.
Certification and accuracy:
Some test kits are certified by regulatory bodies, such as the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) or the National Radon Proficiency Program (NRPP), ensuring their accuracy and reliability.
Some test kits may require sending samples to a laboratory for analysis, while others provide immediate results. Continuous monitors may require professional calibration.
Ultimately, the choice of a radon test kit depends on your specific needs, budget, and desired level of accuracy. If you’re unsure which test kit is most suitable for your situation, you can consult a certified radon professional for guidance. They can recommend the best type of test kit based on your home’s characteristics and your radon testing goals.
What is the difference between long and short term radon gas test kits?
The main difference between long-term and short-term radon gas test kits lies in the duration of the testing period and the information they provide about radon levels in your home. Here’s a breakdown of the differences between these two types of radon test kits:
Long-term radon gas test kits:
Duration: Long-term radon tests are conducted over an extended period, typically ranging from 90 days to one year.
Purpose: These tests provide a more accurate and comprehensive assessment of the average radon concentration in your home over a significant period of time.
Accuracy: Long-term tests offer a more reliable representation of radon levels, as they account for fluctuations caused by factors like weather and daily variations in ventilation.
Suitable situations: Long-term tests are recommended for obtaining a comprehensive understanding of radon exposure and for confirming the need for radon mitigation if results consistently show elevated levels.
Test Types: Common types of long-term radon tests include alpha-track detectors, electret ion chamber detectors, and continuous radon monitors (CRMs) used for extended periods.
Short-term radon gas test kits:
Duration: Short-term radon tests are conducted over a brief period, usually 2 to 7 days.
Purpose: These tests provide a quick snapshot of radon levels and are useful for initial screenings or to assess radon levels in a shorter time frame.
Accuracy: Short-term tests are less accurate than long-term tests since they may not capture variations in radon concentrations as effectively.
Suitable situations: Short-term tests are suitable for quick assessments, real estate transactions, or when immediate results are needed.
Test Types: Common types of short-term radon tests include charcoal canisters and charcoal liquid scintillation detectors.
It’s important to note that while short-term tests offer convenience and rapid results, long-term tests provide a more reliable indication of average radon exposure. Both types of tests can be valuable depending on your specific needs and goals. If you’re unsure which test is appropriate for your situation, consider consulting a certified radon professional who can help you make an informed decision based on your home’s characteristics and your radon testing objectives.
How long does a short-term radon test take?
A short-term radon test typically takes between 2 to 7 days to complete. During this period, the test kit is placed in the designated area of your home, and it passively collects air samples to measure radon gas levels. The specific duration of the test may vary based on the type of test kit you’re using and the guidelines provided by the manufacturer.
It’s important to follow the instructions provided with the test kit to ensure accurate results. The kit should be placed in a suitable location within your home, away from drafts, humidity, and areas where it might be accidentally disturbed. Once the test period is complete, you’ll need to seal the kit and send it to a laboratory for analysis, if required by the specific type of test kit.
Keep in mind that short-term radon tests provide a snapshot of radon levels over a brief period. For a more comprehensive understanding of radon exposure, especially if you’re considering radon mitigation measures, long-term testing over a period of 90 days to one year is recommended. Consulting a certified radon professional can help you determine the most appropriate testing approach based on your goals and circumstances.
How often should I complete a radon test?
The frequency of radon testing in your home depends on several factors, including your location, previous radon levels, and any changes to your home’s structure or ventilation. Here are some general guidelines to help you determine how often you should complete a radon test:
Initial Testing: If you have never tested your home for radon, it’s recommended to conduct an initial test as soon as possible to determine your baseline radon levels.
Real Estate Transactions: If you’re buying or selling a home, radon testing is often recommended as part of the real estate transaction process. Many buyers request a radon test before finalizing a purchase.
Every 2-5 Years: For homes with consistently low radon levels (below the EPA action level of 4.0 picocuries per liter, or pCi/L), it’s generally recommended to conduct radon testing every 2 to 5 years. This interval helps ensure that radon levels remain within safe limits.
After Home Renovations or Structural Changes: If you make significant changes to your home’s structure, foundation, or ventilation, it’s a good idea to conduct radon testing afterward. Changes to your home’s structure can impact radon entry and ventilation.
After Mitigation: If you’ve previously conducted radon mitigation (installation of a radon mitigation system), it’s advisable to conduct follow-up radon testing to ensure that the mitigation system is effectively reducing radon levels.
High-Risk Areas: If you live in an area with known high radon potential or if your previous test results indicated elevated radon levels, more frequent testing may be recommended (e.g., every 1-2 years).
Long-Term Testing: Consider conducting a long-term radon test (lasting 90 days to one year) at least once every few years. Long-term testing provides a more accurate representation of average radon levels.
It’s important to note that radon levels can vary over time due to factors such as weather, soil conditions, and changes in home ventilation. Regular testing helps you stay informed about radon levels and take appropriate action if levels become elevated. If you’re unsure about the frequency of radon testing for your specific situation, consulting a certified radon professional can provide personalized guidance based on your home’s characteristics and location.
How long can I store a radon test kit?
The storage duration for a radon test kit can vary depending on the type of test kit and the manufacturer’s recommendations. Here are some general guidelines for storing different types of radon test kits:
Short-Term Test Kits (Charcoal Canisters, Liquid Scintillation Detectors): Short-term test kits are typically designed to be used shortly after purchase. It’s recommended to use these kits as soon as possible after acquiring them. If you need to store them temporarily, follow the manufacturer’s instructions, but it’s best to use them within a few months to ensure accurate results.
Long-Term Test Kits (Alpha-Track Detectors, Continuous Radon Monitors): Long-term test kits are designed for extended testing periods, ranging from 90 days to one year. These kits are meant to be set up and left in place for the specified testing duration. It’s important to follow the manufacturer’s guidelines for installation, usage, and retrieval.
If you have a radon test kit that you’ve stored for an extended period, it’s a good idea to check the manufacturer’s guidelines or contact the manufacturer directly to confirm if the kit is still suitable for use. Keep in mind that expired or improperly stored test kits may not provide accurate results, so it’s best to follow the manufacturer’s recommendations closely.
What should I do if the radon test kits detect radon in my home?
If radon test kits detect elevated radon levels in your home, it’s important to take appropriate steps to address the issue and reduce your exposure to radon gas. Here’s what you should do if your radon test results indicate elevated radon levels:
Verify the Results: Double-check the accuracy of the test results by following the instructions provided with the test kit. Ensure that the test was conducted according to the manufacturer’s guidelines and that the test duration was accurate.
Consider Retesting: If you’re concerned about the accuracy of the initial test results or if you want to confirm the presence of elevated radon levels, consider conducting additional tests. Long-term testing (lasting 90 days to one year) can provide a more accurate assessment of your average radon exposure.
Consult a Professional: If repeated tests confirm elevated radon levels (above the recommended action level of 4.0 picocuries per liter, or pCi/L), it’s advisable to consult a certified radon professional. A professional can assess your home, recommend appropriate mitigation measures, and provide guidance on next steps.
Radon Mitigation: If elevated radon levels are confirmed, radon mitigation is recommended. Radon mitigation involves the installation of specialized systems that reduce radon concentrations in indoor air. A certified radon mitigation professional can design and install an effective mitigation system tailored to your home’s characteristics.
Select a Mitigation Professional: When choosing a radon mitigation professional, look for certifications such as those from the National Radon Proficiency Program (NRPP) or the American Association of Radon Scientists and Technologists (AARST). A qualified professional will assess your home, propose mitigation solutions, and ensure proper installation.
Follow Mitigation Recommendations: Work with the mitigation professional to implement the recommended mitigation system. This may involve installing a radon vent pipe, sealing cracks and openings, and ensuring proper ventilation.
Post-Mitigation Testing: After the mitigation system is installed, conduct post-mitigation radon testing to ensure that radon levels have been effectively reduced to safe levels. Post-mitigation testing confirms the success of the mitigation efforts.
Regular Maintenance: Periodically check and maintain the radon mitigation system to ensure its continued effectiveness. Follow any maintenance recommendations provided by the mitigation professional.
In conclusion, radon test kits are essential tools for detecting and addressing radon gas levels in your home. These kits provide a practical way to uncover this invisible threat, helping you make informed decisions to protect your health and your family’s well-being.
When selecting a radon test kit, consider factors like testing duration, accuracy, and ease of use. Our review highlights top options, including short-term kits like First Alert, Accustar, and Health Metric, as well as long-term choices such as Pro-Lab and Radonova Radtrak³.
Remember, short-term tests offer quick insights, while long-term tests provide a comprehensive view over an extended period. Upon receiving test results indicating high radon levels, consult a certified professional for mitigation guidance. Swift action, guided by experts, can effectively reduce radon exposure and create a safer indoor environment.
Regular testing is key to maintaining a healthy home. Whether you’re a homeowner or buyer, these test kits empower you to take control of your indoor air quality and prioritize your family’s safety.