interpreting radon test results: what do the numbers mean?

Interpreting Radon Test Results: What Do the Numbers Mean?

Table of Contents

Executive Summary

  • Radon is a naturally occurring radioactive gas that poses risks to the health of home and business occupants in high amounts.
  • Radon testing is essential for building awareness against the threat of potential radon exposure.
  • Properly interpreting radon test results allows you to take the necessary precautions to address radon in the home.
  • Professional radon mitigation is essential for ensuring that your home does not contain dangerous levels of the gas.

Radon is a naturally occurring radioactive gas that poses hazards to our health. Because we cannot see or smell the gas, radon is particularly concerning. Radon naturally exists in the soil, and it can be released into the atmosphere as elements naturally break down. When a home or business contains cracks or holes in the foundation, it can allow radon to enter and become trapped in the building.

Radon poses serious health risks, so if radon builds up to unsafe levels in buildings, it’s important to take mitigation steps in order to protect your well-being. Fortunately, awareness is the number one tool against radon.

By testing for radon in your home or business, you can understand what steps you need to take to mitigate any potential risks. That said, it’s important that you can understand your radon test results so you can take the proper steps—this guide covers what you need to know about interpreting radon test results.

The Effects of Radon on Your Health

There are many myths about radon out there, but the truth is radon gas is important to take seriously because of its surprising risks to your health. Radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer in the United States and the leading cause among non-smokers, with multiple studies confirming the link between radon and lung cancer.

Potential signs of radon exposure may include:

  • Unexplained shortness of breath
  • Consistent fatigue
  • Pain or tightness in the chest
  • Hoarseness
  • Wheezing
  • Consistent cough

Of course, these symptoms can have a range of causes other than radon, but experiencing these symptoms may be a good reason to test your home or business. Radon is completely odorless, colorless, and tasteless, making it completely impossible to detect without a specialized test.

The EPA states that there is no safe level of radon exposure, so it’s important to address radon buildup as soon as possible. Relying on an expert test and mitigation service can help you understand what risks exist in your home or business.

Understanding Radon Test Results as a Homeowner

Radon testing is the only way to detect radon in your home. A homeowner has several options for conducting a radon test in their home. They can choose to have a continuous monitoring system installed or perform a short-term test to measure radon levels over the course of just a few days.

If radon has been a consistent issue in the home, you may consider installing a long-term testing system. These systems are ideal for measuring radon levels over a longer period of time to get a more accurate reading. Some tests can measure over a period of 90 days or more.

Radon is measured in a metric called picocuries per liter (pCi/L). The EPA recommends taking action when radon levels are above 4pCi/L. If levels are between 2 and 4 pCi/L, the EPA states that homeowners should consider taking action. However, reducing radon levels below 2pCi/L is difficult since radon is a naturally occurring element.

If you have never smoked, radon levels can pose the following risks, according to the EPA:

Radon Reading LevelRisk level if 1,000 people were exposed over a lifetimeAction Steps
20 pCi/LAbout 36 out of 1,000 people could experience lung cancerSeek radon mitigation
10 pCi/LAbout 18 people could experience lung cancerSeek radon mitigation
8 pCi/LAbout 15 people could experience lung cancerSeek radon mitigation
4 pCi/LAbout 7 people could experience lung cancerSeek radon mitigation
2 pCi/LAbout 4 people could experience lung cancerConsider fixing levels between 2 and 4 pCi/L
1.3 pCi/LAbout 2 people could experience lung cancerReducing radon levels below 2 pCi/L is difficult
0.4 pCi/LThe risks of experiencing lung cancer are lowReducing radon levels below 2 pCi/L is difficult

If you are a smoker or have smoked in the past, the risks of the above may be even higher. This chart is valuable for understanding your test results and determining how urgent it is to take action based on the reading you receive.

Understanding Radon Test Results as a Business Owner

Business owners can also use the above table for reference regarding the safety of radon test results. Similar to homeowners, business owners should strive for a radon test result below 2 pCi/L. If the results are any higher than this, businesses should consider taking action. If the radon reading is higher than 4 pCi/L, they should take urgent action.

As a business owner, you may be even more liable for managing radon levels because you are responsible for making sure your buildings are safe for your staff and anyone who patronizes your business.

The EPA recommends testing for radon regularly to avoid the risk of exposure—encouraging you to test once every two years. Ideally, it’s best to test yearly. Businesses can also benefit from installing a radon mitigation system proactively to circulate air through the building and keep radon levels low.

Avoid the Risks of Radon In Your Home

Radon poses a sneaky threat to your home and health. Alpha Environmental ensures peace of mind with expert radon testing and mitigation.

DIY Radon Mitigation Strategies

If you suspect radon is causing hazards on your property, it’s best to take action as soon as possible. Radon mitigation can start on your own with the right approach. Keep in mind that most DIY radon mitigation strategies can help you manage your exposure to radon, but they don’t address the root causes of the problem.

You can take these steps to mitigate radon risks:

  • Ensure proper ventilation in your building
  • Open windows throughout the home
  • Consider installing a radon testing system for long-term monitoring
  • Install a radon mitigation system

Although DIY radon testing and mitigation strategies may offer some support, they’re far from a long-term fix. You should always seek support from a professional radon mitigation service for surefire methods and the added peace of mind and security you and your family deserve.

The Importance of Professional Radon Mitigation

A professional service will be able to provide reliable testing, thorough mitigation efforts, and expert guidance throughout the entire process. A professional service will have the tools and equipment to tell you how much radon is present and where it may be entering the building—DIY kits can be difficult to use and interpret, and they provide a lot more guesswork and uncertainty.

Since there are many potential ways to measure radon levels, professional services will help you determine the best test for you to use for your case. They will offer guidance on using a short-term test that provides results in a few days, a long-term test that monitors over 90 days, or a continuous monitoring system. They understand how radon testing works and will know what steps to take to create the proper testing conditions and ensure an accurate result.

Then, a professional radon mitigation service will be able to use the testing results to jump right into the best steps for mitigation. They will have the expertise to properly identify the levels of radon and the source so they can minimize both the risks to human health and the risk of radon entering the home again in the future.

Finally, professional services can install a passive or active radon mitigation system to help ventilate the building and prevent radon from accumulating in the space.

Mitigate Radon Risks with Alpha Environmental

Radon exposure can pose serious health concerns to homes and businesses, and accurate testing is the only effective way to ensure that your home or work environment has healthy air quality. There are steps you can take to understand radon test results and mitigate radon risks on your own, but they are not as reliable as turning to trusted, expert mitigation services.

At Alpha Environmental, we offer professional radon testing and radon mitigation services to support home and business owners in Portland and the surrounding areas. We’ll identify the best test for your home and then get to work using our professional-grade equipment and 21+ years of experience to mitigate the risks of exposure if needed.

Contact us today to learn more about our processes for safe and effective radon mitigation.

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