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Nevada Radon Education Program

Radon Measurement/Radon Testing

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If you choose to test your home yourself, please view
the 3-minute video, "Testing your home for Radon."
The video will show you how to conduct the test.

Testing is The Only Way to Know

Since you can't see, smell or taste radon, testing is the only way to find out if you have a radon problem. Homeowners can measure radon concentrations in their homes themselves using inexpensive and easy to use test kits, or professional, certified testers can test a home. Certified testers may charge $150 to $250 for the test, but results can be made available within 48 hours. When testing for a real estate transaction, it is recommended a qualified (certified) tester be used.

Where to Get a Radon Test Kit

The Nevada Radon Education Program offers low cost, short-term (2-4 day) radon test kits for Nevada residents. Test kits include the test device, instructions, a postage-paid return mailer and the laboratory analysis report.

There are three ways to get a test kit.

  1. Visit the nearest Cooperative Extension or partner office to get a low cost test kit. Call 1-888-RADON10 (888-723-6610) to locate the nearest location offering test kits or view Nevada locations for radon test kits.
  2. Nevada residents can receive a test kit by mail (shipping fees apply - see coupon for details) from UNCE's Radon Administration Office. Print out a coupon and mail the check and coupon. Test kits include the test device, instructions, a postage-paid return mailer and the laboratory analysis report. Long-term (3-12 month) alpha track test kits cost $15.00 plus $2.50 shipping for Nevada residents. Test kits include the test device, instructions, a postage-paid return mailer and the laboratory analysis report.
  3. Order a short-term or long-term radon test kit at Eventbrite using American Express, Discover, MasterCard or Visa. There is a shipping and online handling fee included in the price, so kits will cost more than when purchasing a kit through the mail or at a county Cooperative Extension office. Test kits include the test device, instructions, a postage-paid return mailer and the laboratory analysis report.

How Radon Is Measured

Radon levels are measured in picocuries ("pee-co-cure-ees") per liter of air, often noted as pCi/l. This measurement describes how much radioactivity from radon is in one liter of the air found in a home.

  • The EPA Action Level
    EPA and the U.S. Surgeon General strongly recommend that you fix your home if you have 4 pCi/l or more of radon in your home.

    There is no known safe level of exposure to radon since lung cancer can result from low exposures to radon. Exposure to radon at the EPA Action Level of 4 pCi/l poses a significant health risk. EPA based the 4 pCi/l Action Level on four factors: the health risk involved; the effectiveness of available mitigation technologies; cost-effectiveness; and, the goal set by Congress to reduce indoor radon levels to as close to the outdoor level as possible. EPA's estimate of radon-related lung cancer deaths is based on the population of the U.S. exposed to the national average indoor radon concentration of 1.3 pCi/l over a lifetime. Existing mitigation technologies allow the radon level in most homes to be reduced to 2 pCi/l or less most of the time.

    Additional EPA recommendation: To help minimize your future risk, you should also seriously consider taking action to fix your home if your radon level is between 2 pCi/l and 4 pCi/l.

Types of Tests

There are many ways to test for radon. Broadly speaking, they may be grouped into short-term tests, of up to 90 days in duration, and long-term tests, which take more than 90 days.

  • Short-term or screening test: The quickest way to test is with a short-term or screening test. Short-term tests can be deployed between two days to 90 days, depending on the type of device. Charcoal canister, electret ion chamber, continuous monitor and charcoal liquid scintillation detectors are most commonly used for short-term testing.
    • If the average of the first and second short-term test is less than 4 pCi/l, no action is needed, but if you tested during the summer months, you might consider either a year-long test or another short-term test during the heating season.
    • If the average of the first and second short-term test is equal to or greater than 4 pCi/l, we recommend fixing or mitigating your home.
  • Long-term tests: Because radon levels tend to vary from day to day and season to season, a long-term test will give a year-round average radon level, whereas a short-term test can only tell you what your radon level is during the 2 to 4 day period that you tested. Long-term tests are deployed from 91 days to 12 months. Alpha track and electret detectors are commonly used for this type of testing.
    • If the result is less than 4 pCi/l, no action is needed.
    • Fix your home if your long-term test result is 4 pCi/l or more.

It is recommended that the first test one does on a home should be a short-term test. This will determine whether the home has a severe radon problem, as one would not want to wait a year to find out they were living in a home with high radon levels.

In many states, radon levels may vary with the time of year that the test is conducted. In Nevada, the best time to conduct a short-term radon test is during the heating season months of November through March.

If you are buying or selling a home, you need results quickly, therefore short-term tests are the obvious choice. See testing for real estate transactions.

Radon Testing Recommendations

We recommend the following testing steps when testing a home for radon.

To help homeowners decide what to do after receiving their test result, click on the testing decision guidance below or read the following recommendations.

Step 1. Take a short-term test.

  • If your result is 4 pCi/l or higher take a follow-up or confirming test (Step 2) to be sure.
  • If your result is less than 4 pCi/l, there is no need to take action, however, if you tested in the summer months, we recommend a follow-up test during the heating season, or a year-long test.

Step 2. 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 initial results were 8 pCi/l or more, follow up with a second confirming short-term test.
    • If the average of the first and second short-term test is less than 4 pCi/l, no action is needed but a long-term test is recommended.
    • If the average of the first and second short-term test is equal to or greater than 4 pCi/l, we recommend fixing or mitigating your home.
  • If your initial results are less than 8 pCi/l, then follow up with either a short-term or a long-term test.

How to Use a Short-Term Test Kit

Testing is easy and should only take a few minutes of your time. The Nevada Radon Education Program offers two types of short-term tests, Liquid Scintillation Vial tests and Charcoal Pouch test kits.

Radon Test Kit

Liquid Scintillation test kit

For Liquid Scintillation Vial test kits:

Preparing for your short-term test
  • Open the box, but do not uncap the vial until you are ready to start the test. The box should contain the test vial, an instruction sheet, and a data sheet. The box that the kit came in is the postage-paid mailer. Carefully read and follow the instructions that come with your test kit.
  • Complete the data sheet included in the test kit. Be sure to fill in the name, address of the tested home, as well as where to send the results.
  • Be sure to close all windows and doors at least 12 hours before starting the test, and keep them closed during the test. Doors should remain closed except for normal entry and exit.
  • You should not conduct short-term tests during unusually severe storms or periods of unusually high winds.
Starting your test
  • Uncap the vial test device and save the cap for use at the end of the test.
  • Place the test device in the lowest lived-in level of the home, such as a furnished basement or the ground floor.
  • Place the test device in a regularly used room, such as a living room, playroom, den, or bedroom, on the lowest level, but not your kitchen or bathroom.
  • Place the test device at least 20 inches above the floor in a location where it won't be disturbed, away from drafts, high heat, high humidity, direct sunlight, children and pets and at least 3 feet from exterior walls or doors.
  • Test devices should be at least 4 inches from other objects (or from other test devices if using two at one time).
  • On the data sheet, write down the start date and time and where you placed the test device (floor level and room).
During your test
  • Do not operate fans or other machines that bring in air from the outside because it may change your test result. Re-circulated air from heating or air conditioning systems is fine.
  • Fans that are part of a radon mitigation system or small exhaust fans that run for short periods may be used during the test.
To end the test
  • Cap the test vial at the end of the 2 to 4 day period of your test period. Place it in the postage-paid mailer.
  • On the data sheet, be sure to write down the stop time and date and place the data sheet inside the mailer.
  • Make sure the rest of the data sheet is filled out with test location name and address and name and address of where to send the results.
  • For your records, record and keep the kit serial number and date you mail the device on the top section of the data sheet.
  • Place the data sheet and test device in the mailer and seal it. If necessary, you may use tape to secure the seal.
  • Send the mailer to the lab address right away as the test devices are time sensitive and a delay in mailing can invalidate the test result.
  • You should receive your test results within a few weeks.
  • To determine what to do once you receive your test results, see the Homeowner Test Results Guidance chart.
Radon Test Kit

Charcoal pouch test kit

For Charcoal pouch test kits:

Preparing for your short-term test
  • Open your test kit package but do not open the inner package containing the radon testing device. Your package should contain a radon test kit, an instruction sheet, a data sheet, and a return postage-paid mailer. Carefully read and follow the instructions that come with your test kit.
  • Complete the data sheet included in the test kit. Be sure to fill in the name, address of the tested home, as well as where to send the results.
  • Be sure to close all windows and doors at least 12 hours before starting the test, and keep them closed during the test. Doors should remain closed except for normal entry and exit.
  • You should not conduct short-term tests during unusually severe storms or periods of unusually high winds.
Starting your test
  • When you are ready to test, open the inner plastic bag and remove the charcoal test pouch (test device).
  • Place the test device on a flat surface with the paper side facing upwards in the lowest lived-in level of the home, such as a furnished basement or the ground floor. (Do no puncture, rip, or tear the paper backing of your test. This will invalidate your test.)
  • Place the test device in a regularly used room, such as a living room, playroom, den, or bedroom, on the lowest level, but not your kitchen or bathroom.
  • Place the test device at least 20 inches above the floor in a location where it won't be disturbed, away from drafts, high heat, high humidity, direct sunlight, children and pets and at least 3 feet from exterior walls or doors.
  • Test devices should be at least 4 inches from other objects (or from other test devices if using two at one time).
  • On the data sheet, write down the start date and time and where you placed the test device (floor level and room).
During your test
  • Do not operate fans or other machines that bring in air from the outside because it may change your test result. Re-circulated air from heating or air conditioning systems is fine.
  • Fans that are part of a radon mitigation system or small exhaust fans that run for short periods may be used during the test.
To end the test
  • To stop the test at the end of the 2 to 4 day period, first record the stop date and time on the data sheet.
  • Make sure the data sheet is filled out with test location name and address and name and address of where to send the results. For your records, record and keep the kit serial number and date you mail the device on the top section of the data sheet.
  • Place the data sheet and test device in the mailer and seal it. If necessary, you may use tape to secure the seal.
  • Send the mailer to the lab address right away as the test devices are time sensitive and a delay in mailing can invalidate the test result.
  • You should receive your test results within a few weeks.
  • To determine what to do once you receive your test results, see the Homeowner Test Results Guidance chart.

How to Use a Long-Term Test Kit

For a more definitive year-round radon level reading, use a long-term test kit.

Preparing for your long-term test
  • Carefully read and follow the instructions that come with your test kit.
  • Write down the start date and time and where you placed the test device (floor level of the home).
  • Place the test kit datasheet and postage-paid mailing envelope in an area close to the test device so that you can find it after the 91 days (or 12 month period) that you deploy the test kit.
  • You do not need to close your windows and doors prior to beginning the test and normal entry and exit in the home can be done, as well as operating heating and air-conditioning systems.
Starting your test
  • Open the plastic bag encasing the test device.
  • The test device 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).
  • Place the device in a room that is used regularly, such as a living room, playroom, den, or bedroom, on the lowest level, but not your kitchen or bathroom.
  • Place the device at least 20 inches above the floor in a location where it won't be disturbed, away from drafts, high heat, high humidity, and at least 3 feet from exterior walls or doors.
  • Test devices should be at least 4 inches from other objects.
During your test
  • Leave the test device in place for at least 91 days to 12 months.
  • Fans that are part of a radon-reduction system or exhaust fans may operate during the test.
  • Minimize the amount of outside air entering your home to ensure an accurate test result. Therefore, do not open windows and doors except for normal entry and exit. (If conducting a 12-month test, normal living conditions may be observed.)
After your test
  • Follow the instructions that come with your test kit.
  • Write down the stop time and date, and reseal the package as directed by the kit's instructions.
  • Record and keep the kit serial number for your records.
  • Send the test to the lab address listed on the package right away.
  • You should receive your test results within a few weeks.
  • You should take action to fix your home if the result is at or above 4 pCi/l.

When to Take Action

To help you protect your health and the health of your family, you should take action to fix your home if the result of one long-term test or the average of two short-term tests are 4 pCi/l or higher, and not on a single short-term screening test only. The higher the radon level in your home, the faster you should take action to reduce your exposure.

The EPA and the Nevada Division of Public and Behavioral Health believe that you should try to reduce your radon levels as much as possible. Most homes can be reduced to 4.0 pCi/l or lower. The Nevada Division of Public and Behavioral Health and Nevada Radon Education Program recommend you only use radon professionals who are certified through one of the two national voluntary radon proficiency programs the National Environmental Health Association-National Radon Proficiency Program (NEHA-NRPP) and the National Radon Safety Board (NRSB) See Radon Mitigation page.

Retesting the Home

Even if your test result is below 4 pCi/l, you should consider retesting your home every two years.

EPA also recommends retesting for the following reasons:

  • Living patterns change: If you begin living in a lower level of your home, such as a new den in the basement, you should retest your home on that level.
  • If you finish or renovate an unfinished area, you should test your home before starting the project and after the project is finished.
  • Earthquakes and ground shifts: A change in the ground beneath or around your home can open passageways in the soil allowing radon gas to enter your home.
  • Foundation shifts: As a home grows older, the foundation can shift; cracks and other openings can occur, allowing radon gas to enter the home.
  • After mitigation: If your home has been mitigated for radon, you should test again to make sure the radon mitigation system works. The system should be tested 24 hours after the system has been installed. You should also retest your home (in the winter heating months) every two years after a mitigation to make sure the system is functioning properly.

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