Date Published: 06/22/2020 [Source]
Radon gas is a naturally occurring byproduct produced by the deterioration of uranium in igneous rock and soil. It enters the home through cracks in the foundation, slowly building up until it becomes hazardous to your health. The harmful gas can cause minor symptoms like ongoing headaches or could even have a lethal effect, due to its cancer-causing properties.
Radon exposure can happen in any home—including yours. A tasteless, odorless, colorless gas, radon cannot be identified with the mouth, nose, or eyes, so one way, without hiring a professional, to know if you're at risk of radon gas exposure is by using a radon test kit to measure the levels in your home.
The best radon test kits alert you to the presence of this carcinogenic gas by detecting radon levels over a few days, a few months, or through ongoing radon detection in your home. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recommends a radon removal system if the radon level reading in your home is higher than 4 picocuries per liter of air (pCi/L).
There is no known level of radon exposure that is considered safe, so it's important to protect yourself and your household by using a reliable, high-quality radon test kit that will give you an accurate picture of the radon levels in your home. The products below are the best radon test kits in their respective categories.
Types of Radon Test Kits The EPA suggests a radon removal system be installed for any radon level reading higher than is considered acceptable. Radon test kits use several different methods to test the air in your home for elevated radon levels.
Short-Term Radon Test Kits Short-term radon tests take between two to 90 days to collect readings from your home, depending on the manufacturer. You must then send these test kits to a laboratory to have the results calculated and returned to you. The lab fees and shipping costs are sometimes included with the product you purchase, so be sure to understand whether you will need to pay the fees.
Because short-term radon test kits are the fastest testing method and the least expensive test kit option, real estate agents often use them to test homes before selling. However, radon levels can fluctuate over a short amount of time, so short-term test kits are not the most accurate testing method. For definitive results, long-term testing is necessary.
Long-Term Radon Test Kits Long-term radon test kits, as the name suggests, are designed to test the home over a longer period of time. One style is a single-use device collected at the end of the usage period and sent to a laboratory for testing. This type of device is more accurate than the short-term kits because it allows for a larger data set to be collected and reviewed, instead of the results being swayed by radon spikes, unpredictable highs or lows in radon levels that can cause false test results.
Another style of long-term radon test kit is the ongoing test kit or radon detector. Radon detectors typically feature a digital display and will continuously test the air in the home, displaying results regularly, without the need to send the kit to a laboratory. However, these radon detectors are more expensive than the one-time use or short-term test kits, and they may not be necessary if radon levels in the home are significantly lower than 4 pCi/L.