Radon Test Information

AAA Radon Services offers E-PERM® Radon Starter Kits for self-testing for a $25.00 rental fee plus the cost of shipping and handling. For someone from AAA Radon Services to come out and administer the test in our service areas, the charge is $125.00. Call us today at 314-867-3200 to schedule a test kit to be sent out or for a professional to come to your location.

What is an E-PERM® 

An E-PERM®, also known as an Electret Ion Chamber (EIC), is a passive integrating ionization monitor consisting of a very stable electret mounted inside a small chamber made of electrically conducting plastic. The electret, a charged Teflon® disk, serves as both the source for ion collection and as the integrating ion sensor.  Negative ions produced inside the chamber are collected on the positively charged electret, causing a reduction of its surface charge. The measurement of the depleted charge during the exposure period is a measure of integrated ionization during the measurement period. The electret charge is read before and after the exposure using a specially built non-contact electret voltage reader referred to as the SPER-1 Electret Voltage Reader. Using this data as input to the appropriate formula, one can determine the radon activity present over the duration of the test.

The basic components of the E-PERM® System consist of the electret reader, chambers, and electrets. There are chambers of different sizes and electrets of different sensitivities to meet a wide range of monitoring situations. Typically, a more sensitive electret, referred to as an ST Electret, is used for short-term measurements, and an LT, or less sensitive electret, is used for longer term measurements. They are known as “true integrators” because they are constantly collecting and “registering” the ions generated by the radon decaying inside the chamber.

According to the EPA at http://www.epa.gov/radon/pubs/citguide.html#howtotest, there are Two General Ways to Test for Radon:

SHORT-TERM TESTING:

The quickest way to test is with short-term tests. Short-term tests remain in your home for two days to 90 days, depending on the device. “Charcoal canisters,” “alpha track,” “electret ion chamber,” “continuous monitors,” and “charcoal liquid scintillation” detectors are most commonly used for short-term testing. Because radon levels tend to vary from day to day and season to season, a short-term test is less likely than a long-term test to tell you your year-round average radon level. If you need results quickly, however, a short-term test followed by a second short-term test may be used to decide whether to fix your home.

How To Use a Test Kit:

Testing is easy and should only take a few minutes of your time.

Follow the instructions that come with your test kit. If you are doing a short-term test, close your windows and outside doors and keep them closed as much as possible during the test. Heating and air-conditioning system fans that re-circulate air may be operated. Do not operate fans or other machines which bring in air from outside. Fans that are part of a radon-reduction system or small exhaust fans operating only for short periods of time may run during the test. If you are doing a short-term test lasting just 2 or 3 days, be sure to close your windows and outside doors at least 12 hours before beginning the test, too. You should not conduct short-term tests lasting just 2 or 3 days during unusually severe storms or periods of unusually high winds. The test kit should be placed in the lowest lived-in level of the home (for example, the basement if it is frequently used, otherwise the first floor). It should be put in a room that is used regularly (like a living room, playroom, den or bedroom) but not your kitchen or bathroom. Place the kit at least 20 inches above the floor in a location where it won’t be disturbed – away from drafts, high heat, high humidity, and exterior walls. Leave the kit in place for as long as the package says. Once you’ve finished the test, reseal the package and send it to the lab specified on the package right away for analysis. You should receive your test results within a few weeks.

LONG-TERM TESTING:

Long-term tests remain in your home for more than 90 days. “Alpha track” and “electret” detectors are commonly used for this type of testing. A long-term test will give you a reading that is more likely to tell you your home’s year-round average radon level than a short-term test.

EPA Recommends the Following Testing Steps:

Step 1.  Take a short-term test. If your result is 4 pCi/L or higher take a follow-up test (Step 2) to be sure.

Step 2.  Follow up with either a long-term test or a second short-term test:

  • For a better understanding of your year-round average radon level, take a long-term test.
  • If you need results quickly, take a second short-term test.

The higher your initial short-term test result, the more certain you can be that you should take a short-term rather than a long-term follow up test. If your first short-term test result is more than twice EPA’s 4 pCi/L action level, you should take a second short-term test immediately.

Step 3.  If you followed up with a long-term test: Fix your home if your long-term test result is 4 pCi/L or more. If you followed up with a second short-term test: The higher your short-term results, the more certain you can be that you should fix your home. Consider fixing your home if the average of your first and second test is 4 pCi/L or higher.

What Your Test Results Mean

Test your home now and save your results. If you find high radon levels, fix your home before you decide to sell it.

The average indoor radon level is estimated to be about 1.3 pCi/L, and about 0.4 pCi/L of radon is normally found in the outside air. The U.S. Congress has set a long-term goal that indoor radon levels be no more than outdoor levels. While this goal is not yet technologically achievable in all cases, most homes today can be reduced to 2 pCi/L or below.

Sometimes short-term tests are less definitive about whether or not your home is above 4 pCi/L. This can happen when your results are close to 4 pCi/L. For example, if the average of your two short-term test results is 4.1 pCi/L, there is about a 50% chance that your year-round average is somewhat below 4 pCi/L. However, EPA believes that any radon exposure carries some risk – no level of radon is safe. Even radon levels below 4 pCi/L pose some risk, and you can reduce your risk of lung cancer by lowering your radon level.

If your living patterns change and you begin occupying a lower level of your home (such as a basement) you should retest your home on that level.

Even if your test result is below 4 pCi/L, you may want to test again sometime in the future.