Photo: sommart sombutwanitkul (Shutterstock)
If you’ve been putting off testing your home for radon for months (or even years), it’s time to put it (back) on your to-do list. It’s one of those things that you know you should do, but often gets pushed to the side in favor of more exciting home projects where you notice an immediate difference—like hanging curtains or painting a room. But you’ll probably be able to enjoy the room and curtains more knowing that you’re safe from radon. Here’s how to test for, get rid of, and prevent radon.
What is radon?
First of all, it’s sneaky. Radon is a colorless, odorless, invisible, naturally occurring radioactive gas that results from the breakdown of uranium in soil, rock and water, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). From there, it gets into the air we breathe—including the air in homes, offices and schools.
But because we spend much of our time at home (or at least we do now), there is concern over undetected radon in our places of residence. Also, elevated radon levels aren’t confined to one geographic region: that gas can be anywhere.
All of this matters because radon is bad for our health. As in, the EPA estimates that radon may cause thousands of deaths each year, and the Surgeon General says that radon is the second-leading cause of lung cancer in the country—after smoking.
How to test for radon
Fortunately, testing your home for radon is easy and relatively quick. You just need to pick up an Accu-Star certified radon test at your local home improvement store or directly from the company’s website.
There, you’ll see options for both short- and long-term radon testing kits. Short-term testing kits measure radon levels for between two and seven days. If this is the first time you’re doing a radon test in your home, start with a short-term test, so it’ll take less time to find out if you have a radon problem. But after that, you might want to opt for a long-term testing kit, which measures radon levels for at least 90 days.
On the Accu-Star website, the tests run from $25 for a short-term kit, to $30 for a long-term kit. You can also purchase discounted kits through the National Radon Program Services at Kansas State University, which cost $15 for a $15 for a short-term kit and $25 for a long-term kit.