What are the Best Methods of Radon Detection?

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  • Written By: A. Garrett
  • Edited By: A. Joseph
  • Last Modified Date: 10 November 2019
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Radon is a naturally occurring gas that has no color, smell or taste. This deleterious gas enters the atmosphere as the result of the decay of uranium and radium in soil, and it seeps into places of business or private dwellings through drains, air ducts, cracks in walls and dirt flooring. Prolonged exposure to high levels of radon is hazardous to human health and is the second leading cause of lung cancer after smoking. Humans cannot sense the presence of radon, so radon detection requires the use of a professional home inspector, a radon kit or a commercial radon detector. The best methods of radon detection depend on several factors, including the duration of testing desired.

The duration of radon testing varies. Most residential testing lasts anywhere from two days to three months. Radon levels fluctuate throughout the year, so most government agencies recommend that testing should lasts for three months or longer wherever there is a high probability of the gas’s presence.


A professional home inspector provides an easy solution for radon detection because of his or her expertise and because he or she already has the equipment necessary. The professional home inspector will likely conduct a short-term radon test using a charcoal liquid scintillation detector. This machine uses charcoal to absorb radon particles, and the sample is sent to a lab for testing. Sodium iodine is then used to isolate the radioactive particles emitted by the charcoal. This allows the examiner to then count the particles in order to come up with a figure for the amount of radon present.

A home or business owner can also purchase a radon detection kit for the purpose of determining radon levels. An alpha track detector is used for long-term radon testing and provides a better indication of the long-term radon levels in one’s home or office. This kit contains a plastic film that absorbs radon particles. After the testing period concludes, the sample is sent to a lab that analyzes the film and reports the results.

For year-round radon detection, a radon detector provides quality short-term samples that can be conducted at any point. Radon is a gas originating from the soil, so a radon detector should be placed at the ground level of the business or basement of the dwelling. Most radon detectors are turned on for seven-day intervals. After the cycle is complete, the sample is sent to a lab for testing in a manner similar to the aforementioned methods of radon detection.


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