How Does Radon Testing Work?
How radon tests work depends on the type of radon testing method being used and the goals of the client. Common deciding factors include the timeline mandated for results, the property type, the presence of pre-existing issues, and more. Though there are many more types of testing and radon decay product testing, here are some common testing types you’ll see our team use.
These small devices are commonly used for short-term testing of about 48 hours. Radon is absorbed into charcoal within the canister. This then decays into radon decay products or RDP's. RDP's are the dangerous product of decaying radon as they can be inhaled into the lungs causing lasting damage. After being exposed to the testing environment for the correct time period, the canister is then sent to a specialized lab that counts the gamma ray emissions of two radon decay products, Bi-214 and Pb-214. From there, the level of radon in the tested environment is reported in picocuries.
Alpha Track Detectors
Similar in size to charcoal canisters, the alpha track detectors are used for long-term testing of at least 91 days. Radon diffuses through the canister and as it decays into RDP's, alpha particles damage a piece of film inside the canister. Lab technicians count the damage tracks on the film to provide the exposure amount.
These devices can provide either short-term sampling or long-term sampling. Radon diffuses through an opening in the chamber and as radon decays and the radon decay products decay, ions are generated which collide and give off voltage on an electrostatically charged disk of teflon. Electron-Ion Chamber Detectors have the benefit of providing results in the field and do not need to be sent to a lab for analysis.
Don’t get bogged down in the science, just remember each radon sampling method above provides incredibly effective results to your Radon Measurement Technician and Radon Measurement Specialist. Oftentimes, the measurement team will deploy multiple testing methods simultaneously to provide additional data such as a radon measurement over multiple seasons where different systems like heating and cooling are used. Additionally, to ensure all testing devices, professionals, and labs are providing accurate, precise, and unbiased radon results, your measurement professional will deploy duplicate canisters or detectors at 10% of testing sites. This practice, along with sending blank canisters to the lab to cross-check results, is part of the EPA-mandated processes followed by EnviroHome to ensure compliance and accuracy.
Your measurement technician will have in place a log of start/stop dates and times for each canister deployed at the property as well as a record of any signs of test tampering or influencing factors that might cause false results. Other important information your Measurement Technician may collect could include the building foundation type or location of HVAC systems. All of this information is necessary to ensure a proper testing environment.
Before leaving the property, the testing technician will provide any information needed for the test to not be disrupted or nullified. This may include observing Closed-Building Conditions but always includes not moving or tampering with the testing canister.
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