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Radon Mitigation Company Serving the Greater Virginia Region
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How to Test Your Home 

               You can't see radon, but it's not hard to find out if you have a radon problem in your home. All you  need to do is test for it. Testing is easy and should only take a few minutes.

  The amount of radon in the air is measured in "picoCuries per liter of air," or "pCi/L." Sometimes test  results are expressed in working levels (WL) rather than picoCuries per liter (4 pCi/L equals 0.016 WL). There are many kinds of low-cost "do-it-yourself" radon test kits you can get through the mail  and in hardware stores like Home Depot and other retail outlets. If you prefer, or if you are buying or selling a home,  you can hire a qualified tester to test for you. You should first contact your state radon office about  obtaining a list of qualified testers. You can also contact a private radon proficiency program for lists  of privately certified radon professionals serving your area.  

There Are Two General Ways to Test for Radon: 

SHORT-TERM TESTING: 

The quickest way to test is with short-term tests. Short-term tests remain in your home for two to 90  days, depending on the device. "Charcoal canisters," "alpha track," "electret ion chamber," "continuous monitors" and "charcoal liquid scintillation" detectors are most commonly used for  short-term testing. Because radon levels tend to vary from day to day and season to season, a  short-term test is less likely than a long-term one to tell you your year-round average radon level. If  you need results quickly, however, a short-term test followed by another short-term one may be  used to decide whether to fix your home (see Home Sales).

LONG-TERM TESTING: 

Long-term tests remain in your home for more than 90 days. "Alpha track" and "electret" detectors  are commonly used for this type of testing. A long-term test will give you a reading that is more  likely to tell you your home's year-round average radon level than a short-term test.  

How to Use a Test Kit:

Follow the instructions that come with your test kit. If you are doing a short- term test, close your windows and outside doors and keep them closed as much as possible during the test. Heating and  air-conditioning system fans that recirculate air may be operated. Do not operate fans or other  machines which bring in air from the outside. Fans that are part of a radon-reduction system or  small exhaust fans operating only for short periods of time may run during the test. If you are doing  a short-term test lasting just two or three days, be sure to close your windows and outside doors at  least 12 hours before  beginning the test, too. You should not conduct short-term tests lasting just  two or three days during unusually severe storms or periods of unusually high winds. The test kit  should be placed in the lowest lived-in level of the home (for example, the basement if it is  frequently used, otherwise the first floor). It should be put in a room that is used regularly (like a  living room, playroom, den or bedroom) but not your kitchen or bathroom. Place the kit at least 48  inches above the floor in a location where it won't be disturbed away from drafts, high heat, high  humidity and exterior walls. Leave the kit in place for as long as the package says. Once you've  finished the test, reseal the package and send it to the specified lab right away for analysis. You  should receive your test results within a few weeks.

EPA Recommends the Following Testing Steps: 

Step 1.    Take a short-term test. If your result is 4 pCi/L or higher, take a follow-up test (step 2) to  be sure. 

Step 2.    Follow up with either a long-term test or a second short-term test:  

For a better understanding of your year-round average radon level, take a long-term test.   

If you need results quickly, take a second short-term test. 

The higher your initial short-term test result, the more certain you can be that you should take a short-term rather than a long-term follow-up test. If your first short-term test result is more than  twice EPA's 4 pCi/L action level, you should take a second short-term test immediately. If you  followed up with a long-term test: Fix your home if your long-term test result is 4 pCi/L or more. If  you followed up with a second short-term test: The higher your short-term results, the more certain  you can be that you should fix your home. Consider fixing your home if the average of your first and second test is 4 pCi/L or higher.  (see also Home Sales) 

 What Your Test Results Mean 

The average indoor radon level is estimated to be about 1.3 pCi/L, and about 0.4 pCi/L of radon is  normally found in the outside air. The U.S. Congress has set a long-term goal that indoor radon  levels be no more than outdoor levels. While this goal is not yet technologically achievable in all  cases, most homes today can be reduced to 2 pCi/L or below. 

Sometimes short-term tests are less definitive about whether or not your home is above 4 pCi/L.  This can happen when your results are close to 4 pCi/L. For example, if the average of your two  short-term test results is 4.1 pCi/L, there is about a 50 percent chance that your year-round average is somewhat below 4 pCi/L. However, the EPA believes that any radon exposure carries some risk  no level of radon is safe. Even radon levels below 4 pCi/L pose some risk, and you can reduce  your risk of lung cancer by lowering your radon level. 

If your living patterns change and you begin occupying a lower level of your home (such as a  basement), you should retest your home on that level. 

Even if your test result is below 4 pCi/L, you may want to test again sometime in the future

How to Test Your Home for Radon!

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