What the Tech? Checking for Radon Levels

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — January is Radon Awareness Month in the United States. The Environmental Protection Agency recommends every home be tested for radon gas as it can cause serious health problems including death.

Radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer and is the #1 cause for non-smokers. The EPA estimates some 21,000 people die each year due to high levels of exposure to radon gas.

What is a high level and how do you find out?

Airthings makes several radon detectors for consumers including the Corentium which is a handheld device that monitors radon levels around the clock. I purchased one last winter for the basement where I spend a lot of time. The numbers surprised me. After using the detector for a couple of months the device detected a long-term average of over 8 pCi. The EPA urges homes with levels over 4 to be mitigated by a professional.

I contacted a home inspector who has a professional radon detector who left his device in the basement for over a week. When he returned we both found the levels shown on his device and the Airthings device were within a tenth of each other. Out of concern that the radon levels in my home could pose serious health problems, I contacted a professional radon mitigation company. They installed a mitigator that pulled air out of the ground below my home and blew it out of the house using a constantly running fan.

After a few days, the Airthings device showed radon levels in my home had dropped to .43 for the weekly average.

The Airthings Corentium Home device is around $180.

There are other, less expensive options. Hardware stores sell home radon detection kits for about $25. Those require you to send the kit off to a lab to get the results.

Since radon levels fluctuate greatly, you may want to invest in your own monitor especially if you live in an area where high radon levels are detected. The EPA provides a map to see levels in your area, https://www.epa.gov/radon/state-maps-radon-zones The maps show county-by-county numbers.

www.airthings.com