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How to test your home for radon

By: Julia Wiegand



The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimates one of every 15 homes have elevated radon levels. Home radon levels can be self-checked with do-it-yourself detection kits, or by professionals.

We close our doors and windows before leaving the house, letting radon accumulate. We forget that radon is in the water when we shower. Old homes without radon reduction systems and dirt basements let radon rise.

The EPA recommends testing homes below the third floor, including new homes that were “radon-resistant” built. The average indoor concentration in PA basements is about 7.1 and 3.6 for first floors. I was so curious that I decided to self-check my own home in Shippensburg since it’s such an old building.

radon-test-kitYou can find radon test kits at your local hardware store. Follow the instructions given. Place the test kit at the lowest point of your home. In my case, I placed the test kit in the center of my basement. Leave the test kit undisturbed for two to four days. I left my kit from 7:30PM on a Saturday night to 5:15PM on a Wednesday afternoon, giving it plenty of time to read my basement. Once your test is completed, place your filled out information card, test kit, and payment if necessary, inside the mailer provided. Be sure to seal it immediately and mail the package as soon as possible to the assigned lab. Your test results will be completed and sent back to you 3-5 days after the lab receives it.

Radon removal action is taken at levels exceeding 4.0 pCi/L (pico curies per liter). My results came back at 1.3 pCi/L, letting me know that I don’t need to take further action at this time and that the EPA recommends I retest every 2-3 years. For more information on radon and how to test your home, visit the EPA’s website.


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