- Radon testing is vital for determining whether the average level of radon in your home’s air constitutes a significant lung cancer risk.
- Choosing a long-term (90+ day) test kit approved by Health Canada, placing it properly, leaving it for the right amount of time, and interpreting your results correctly are all important for knowing whether you need to take steps to lower your home’s radon levels by hiring a C-NRPP certified radon mitigation professional.
- Following the steps in this guide can ensure you test for radon in your home at the right time and in the right way—allowing you to act on your results if necessary with confidence.
Another Canadian is diagnosed with radon-induced lung cancer every 108 minutes, making radon exposure the leading cause of lung cancer in the country for people who do not smoke tobacco products, as well as worsening lung cancer risk in people who do smoke tobacco. Since some amount of radon exists in every household, it’s absolutely essential to test your home and find out if the radon levels in the air you breathe pose a significant risk to your health.
Want to know your home’s radon levels? Order a 90 day radon test kit here.
See Also: 11 Reasons to Test Your Home for Radon
Once you understand why radon testing matters, it’s critical that you know when to test your home for radon, and how to do it properly. At The Evict Radon National Study, we’re collecting data on radon risks and how to lower them for the betterment of all Canadians. Let us be your guides for effective and timely radon testing.
When to Test for Radon in Your Home
While it’s important to test for radon in all homes, we advise residents of brand new builds to wait 18 months to two years after the home’s concrete foundation was poured before conducting a radon test.
Although levels of radon in more recently constructed homes are higher on average than older homes (because the way they are constructed tends to trap more soil gasses indoors), the long term radon levels in brand new homes have been found to be ‘artificially-low’ in the first few months after construction, and will not stabilize until the concrete in the foundation slab finishes curing.
If you live in a home whose foundation is more than two years old, there’s no reason to wait before conducting your radon test. It’s also vital to note that although average radon levels are higher in homes built in recent decades, a large number of homes built in the 20th century (and earlier) will still have dangerous radon levels as well—and we strongly urge testing for all households.
Best Practices for Radon Testing in Your Home
To ensure your test results are as accurate as possible, we recommend following these steps:
Use a Health Canada Recommended Long-Term Testing Kit
Not all radon tests are equally reliable. Our extensive and peer-reviewed research shows that short-term radon test kits can be up to 99% inaccurate, making them unreliable sources of information on the radon levels in your home. What does “short-term” mean here? It means any test done for less than the three month optimal period, and especially those that are done for only a few hours or days.
For best results, use a long-term (90+ day) radon testing kit recommended by Health Canada. The Evict Radon National Study offers these kits at cost to people who enroll in the research, and we take no profit from any kit sold. By enabling Canadians to take part in our research and become citizen scientists, the de-identified data collected in our study allows us to learn more about why radon is such a problem in Canada, inform policy makers, and discover new ways of keeping residents across the country safer from radon’s dangers. To order an Evict Radon National Study kit and join with cancer researchers in this important work, click here.
Register Your Device
Once it arrives in the mail and you are ready to start testing for radon, you’ll have to register your device online if you’re using a kit purchased through The Evict Radon National Study (although all radon test kits require you to provide certain information to the laboratory that will interpret your data and send you your results).
Via Adobe Stock.
Place Your Device Properly
Where you place the device from your radon testing kit is important, since the kit should be in a position to test the air that you and others are breathing ‘the most’ at home. We and Health Canada recommend placing your device in the lowest level of your home where people spend more than 4 hours a day.
Great testing areas that are usually appropriate to place your device include:
- Bedside tables or similar furniture in bedrooms
- End tables or medium-height shelves
- Main floor rooms
- Hanging at “head-height” from light fixtures (the devices have loops for this)
Please avoid placing your device in highly ventilated areas such as:
- Near open windows or exterior doors
- In areas with fans or with strong air circulation
- Places where people usually don’t spend time (like crawl spaces, furnace rooms or sump pumps)
Don’t place your device on the floor or near the ceiling either, since the goal is to test air you and others are actually breathing regularly.
If you have specific questions about the best place in your home to set-up your radon test kit, please contact The Evict Radon National Study. We’ll be happy to answer your questions and provide advice.
Test Up to a Year
The device in your long-term radon test kit starts measuring radon levels the moment you take it out of the packaging, so you’ll want to choose the area where it will be located ahead of time. Once you’ve removed your device from the vacuum-sealed plastic bag it comes in, leave it in the location you’ve chosen and wait. Do not move it for long periods (although it’s okay to pick up and dust underneath!).
The minimum testing period for the kits we recommend is 90 full days. However, you can also choose to leave these kits in place for 6 months or up to a full year.
Regardless of which length of time you choose, it’s vital to record the exact start and end dates of your test on the page where you registered your kit. This provides essential context for interpreting your results—without these dates, no radon reading can be done.
Send In Your Testing Kit
As noted above, you’ll need to send your device to a laboratory for testing once your test has finished. See this page for details on how to return your kit.
Your results will normally be emailed to you two to four weeks after you mail your test in for analysis. Please note that in some rare cases, it can take longer to return your results. If it has been longer than six weeks, please first check your spam email folder and, if you haven’t received anything, contact us at [email protected].
Interpret Your Results & Take Action If Necessary
Your results will include a reading of your home’s average radon levels, measured in Becquerels per cubic metre (Bq/m3). Health Canada recommends that anyone living in a home with radon levels at or over 200 Bq/m3 take corrective action to reduce these levels within two years, while anyone living in a home with radon levels at or above 600 Bq/m3 should take corrective measures within one year.
Bear in mind that any radon level at or above 100 Bq/m3 does carry a measurable increase in lifetime risk of lung cancer (based on the science), and the World Health Organization recommends people consider taking action at this threshold. For more details on how to interpret your test results, click here.
Hiring a C-NRPP (Canadian National Radon Proficiency Program) certified radon mitigation professional is the most effective way to reduce radon levels in your home. An active soil depressurization system installed by a C-NRPP professional is shown to bring the radon levels to their lowest possible levels. The installation process is quick (usually requiring 1-2 visits), relatively inexpensive, and can even improve your home’s value by improving its air quality.
Proper Radon Testing Lets You Take Confident Next Steps
Using the right kind of radon testing kit, placing it in your home appropriately, testing for a sufficient amount of time, and knowing how to interpret your results can empower you to take any necessary steps to make the air you breathe at home safer from radon’s effects. Use what you’ve learned above to move forward with confidence, and contact one of our experts at the Evict Radon National Study if you have additional questions.