Testing for Radon...Testing for radon must be looked at from two very different angles… testing for real estate sales, or testing for family health consequences. If testing for health consequences, a certified tester is not necessary to contract. Testing for real estate sales needs to be conducted by an EPA Certified and State listed Radon Tester
( http: www.lowradon.org/Lists/MeasProf.htm ) to insure proper protocols are followed, eliminating problems with real estate contract amendments. A house must test out below 4.0pCi/L in an average across a minimum of 48 hours of testing in order to pass a real estate radon test. Real estate testing is always conducted in the lowest livable area of a house, which is typically a basement.
If testing for health consequences, test kits are readily available through WI County Health and Family Resource Centers ( http://dhs.wisconsin.gov/ ), or from many hardware stores, typically located in their plumbing departments. It is highly recommended to test any house or building in the following way. Two test kits in the basement area… located across the basement area from one another in central open areas, and a third test kit (or more) in an upstairs area(s). In a home, first or second story bedrooms are great locations as more hours are typically spent there than most other locations in a house.
In basement areas, protocol dictates 10’+ from any open sump crock, at least 1’ off of any wall or large object, and at least 3’ from any wall with a window or door exit. 4’ off the floor (never less than 20”) is an excellent level to test as it falls within the typical level of breathing when sitting or standing. In upstairs living areas, an area away from drafts works best. If a bedroom is chosen, a nightstand or dresser is an appropriate height. In any and all cases, closed house conditions (no open windows or doors) should be observed while testing, and at least 24 hours prior to testing. This methodology will give an excellent short-term “snapshot” at what a family is breathing throughout the house. When test results return from the lab, a quick view at our EPA Health Risk Equivalencies ( http://rmeswi.com/3.html ) will help to decipher the rate in pCi/L into a more common equivalency.
Beware that radon rates can change 200-300% from summer to winter months. Long-term tests (Alpha Track Tests… two weeks to one year exposure) are always the most accurate type of test (+/-3% error), but should only be considered when short term testing (48-96 hours exposure) rates are less than 10pCi/L. Short-term findings over 10pCi/L should be mitigated as long-term tests will, on the average, be higher than 4pCi/L. Remember, the EPA has always wanted homes in the US to be below 2.0pCi/L from a health perspective … on the average. The new (November 2009) World Health Organization's standards recommends living conditions be below 2.7pCi/L for health.