Radon Testing

In Division 7 we discussed radon gas and miti­gation. There are several acceptable methods currently being used to measure radon in air and in water. Some test kits are available through local hardware stores (see Chart 13.1). It is important to follow the manufacturers in­structions precisely.

Radon Testing in an Existing Structure

The general procedure for radon air testing, regardless of the type of kit used, is:

• Close the home for a minimum of 12 hours before beginning the test and keep it closed throughout the testing period. You may enter and leave the house as long as the doors are not left open.

• Place the sampler about 30 inches above the floor and at least two feet away from the wall in the area being tested. Keep the sam­pler away from doors, windows, fireplaces, outside walls, corners, and any other places where drafts or stagnant air may exist. These precautions are necessary to ensure that the sampler is exposed to a representa­tive sample of air.

• Accurately record the starting and stop­ping time. This information, along with the date, must be included with the sam­ple when it is returned to the lab. Without precise recording information, the results cannot be considered valid.

A typical radon test kit costs less than $25. After each individual test, the kit must be re­turned to a laboratory for analysis. Multiple testing or continuous monitoring can be car­ried out with electronic radon monitors.

Radon Land Test

Radon mitigation is most effective and least costly when incorporated into the construc­tion of the home. If you are building a new home and there is reason to suspect a radon problem, a land test is advisable. Although the test will not provide a definitive answer as to what the radon levels will ultimately be in the finished home, it is nevertheless an indicator that will help you decide whether mitigation measures should be included in your con­struction plans.

The test kit available for measuring radon in the soil requires placing a special collection box with its open side over the soil to be tested. Mound soil around the lip of the box to form a tight seal and keep the box in place. Radon gas is trapped and concentrated in a carbon me­dium and can then be measured by a testing apparatus. Record the starting time and date. After the prescribed period of time (usually 48 hours), push the soil away, retrieve the tester, and return it to its foil pouch. Record the stop time and send it with the other information and materials to the lab for analysis.

Radon Water Testing

Radon found in water poses a health threat when released into the air and inhaled. Hot, steamy baths or showers with water that has high radon content can be a serious source of exposure. Since the EPA requires munici­pal water sources to screen for radon, it is nec­essary to test only well water. Small amounts of radon can be removed with special car­bon filters. A high radon content (5,000 pico – curies per liter or greater) is more difficult and costly to remove. (See Chart 13.1 for test kits for radon in water.)

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