Radon is a naturally occurring gas that can be found almost anywhere on the planet, and it is known to be the second leading cause of lung cancer after smoking. As a result, it is important to ensure that your home or office space is free from this harmful gas. The best way to do this is by testing for radon regularly.
But how often should you test for radon? This article aims to provide answers to this question while also discussing the importance of testing for radon regularly.
What is Radon?
Radon is a radioactive gas that is formed naturally in the ground. It is odorless, tasteless, and colorless, which makes it difficult to detect without special equipment. Radon gas is created by the decay of uranium in soil, rocks, or water. It can seep into buildings, including homes, schools, and offices, through cracks and openings in the foundation or walls. Once inside, it can accumulate and become a health hazard.
The Risk of Exposure to Radon
Exposure to radon can lead to serious health problems, especially lung cancer. The risk of developing lung cancer due to exposure to radon gas depends on several factors, including the concentration of radon in the air, the duration of exposure, and individual susceptibility.
According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), radon exposure is responsible for about 21,000 deaths due to lung cancer every year in the United States. This makes it the second leading cause of lung cancer in the country.
How to Test for Radon
Radon testing involves measuring the concentration of radon gas in the air. There are two main testing methods: short-term testing and long-term testing. Short-term testing involves placing a device in the lowest livable level of a building for a period of 2 to 7 days to measure the radon concentration. Long-term testing, on the other hand, involves leaving the testing device in place for a period of more than 90 days to measure the average radon concentration over time.
How Often Should You Test for Radon?
The frequency of radon testing depends on several factors, including the region where you live, the age of your home, and the results of previous radon tests.
Recommended Radon Testing Frequency
The EPA recommends testing for radon every two years, especially if you live in a high-risk area. High-risk areas are regions where the average indoor radon concentration is above 4 picocuries per liter (pCi/L). However, if you have undergone mitigation work or have had previous high levels of radon in your home, it is recommended that you test more frequently, ideally every year.
Testing Frequency Based on the Age of Your Home
If your home is brand new, it is still advisable to test for radon gas. The construction of a new home can cause the soil around the property to be disturbed, allowing radon to seep into the foundation. Testing should be carried out after a few months of occupancy.
If you have an older home that has been tested for radon and found to have low levels of radon, you can retest after five years. However, if the test results showed high levels, it is advisable to retest after a year of mitigation work.
Testing Frequency Based on High-Risk Occupations
If you work in a high-risk occupation, such as mining or uranium processing, it is recommended that you test your home for radon more frequently. This is because you are more likely to have higher levels of radon exposure due to your occupation.
What Happens If Your Home Has High-Risk Levels of Radon?
If your home has high levels of radon, you should take steps to reduce the concentration to a safe level. This can be achieved through radon mitigation, which involves installing a vent pipe system and a fan to reduce the concentration of radon in the air.
Testing for radon is an important step in maintaining a healthy living environment. The frequency of testing depends on several factors, including the region where you live and the age of your home. Regular testing can help identify potential health hazards before they become serious problems. If your home has high levels of radon, it is important to take measures to reduce the concentration to a safe level.
- Q: What is radon?
- A: Radon is a naturally occurring gas that is formed by the decay of uranium in soil, rocks or water.
- Q: Is radon dangerous?
- A: Yes, radon is dangerous. Exposure to high levels of radon increases the risk of developing lung cancer.
- Q: Where can I test for radon?
- A: You can purchase a radon test kit from your local hardware store, or hire a professional to test your home for radon gas.
- Q: How often should I test for radon?
- A: The frequency of radon testing depends on several factors, including the region where you live, the age of your home, and the results of previous radon tests. The EPA recommends testing every two years.
- Q: What happens if my home has high levels of radon?
- A: If your home has high levels of radon, you should take steps to reduce the concentration to a safe level through radon mitigation.
- National Cancer Institute. (2019). Radon and Cancer. Retrieved from https://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/causes-prevention/risk/substances/radon/radon-fact-sheet
- Environmental Protection Agency. (2021). Radon. Retrieved from https://www.epa.gov/radon