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Radon Measurement/Radon Testing

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 shortly after 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) and long-term (3-12 months) radon test kits. Test kits include the test device, instructions, a postage-paid return mailer and the laboratory analysis report.

Get a short-term radon test kit

There are several ways to get a short-term test kit.

  1. Complete and submit the online form, print the email confirmation and bring it to the nearest Cooperative Extension or partner office to receive a FREE radon test kit from Jan. 1 to Feb. 28. Call 1-888-RADON10 (888-723-6610) to locate the nearest location offering test kits, or view Nevada locations for radon test kits.
  2. Attend a free radon education program where free radon test kits will be available.
  3. Nevada residents can receive a free test kit by mail (a $4 shipping fee applies - see coupon for details) from Cooperative Extension’s Radon administration office. Print and mail the coupon, including a check or money order to Board of Regents for the shipping fee.
  4. Order a short-term radon test kit at Eventbrite using American Express, Discover, MasterCard or Visa.
Get a long-term radon test kit

Long-term (3-12 month) alpha track test kits cost $15.00 plus shipping (if mailed). Test kits include the test device, instructions, a postage-paid return mailer and the laboratory analysis report.

There are several ways to get a long-term (3-12 month) test kit.

  1. Visit one of the listed Cooperative Extension offices to get a long-term radon test kit with no shipping expense. Call 1-888-RADON10 (888-723-6610) to locate the nearest location offering long-term test kits.
  2. Mail a long-term test kit order form to Cooperative Extension's Radon administration office, 4955 Energy Way, Reno, NV 89502 with the required payment.
  3. Order a 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 ordering a kit with an order form or when picking one up at a county Cooperative Extension office.

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.

  • 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.

    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. 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 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.

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 for Residential Testing

If you have never tested for radon before, a short-term (2- to 4-day) screening test is recommended. Further action depends upon the initial test result.

  • If the test result is less than 4 pCi/l, no further action is required now. However, if the test was done in the summer months and/or closed house conditions were not observed, we recommend testing again in the winter when closed house conditions can be observed. Additionally, EPA recommends testing every two years, before and after remodeling or after significant seismic activity in the area.
  • If your result is between 2 and 4 pCi/l, EPA suggests that you consider mitigating the home if the annual average is between 2 and 4 pCi/l.
    • You might also consider conducting a long-term test for a full year to determine that your average annual radon level is indeed below 4 pCi/l.
    Radon is a radioactive, cancer-causing gas, and any amount of radon can pose a health risk. The higher the concentration, the greater the risk. Determining whether to do something about any amount of radon is a personal decision and should be based upon risk, health and financial considerations.

If test results indicate an elevated level of radon (at or above the EPA Action Level of 4 pCi/l), it requires further attention. The higher the initial short-term test result, the more certain you should be to take further action. The recommended step for further action depends upon the radon level.

  • The result is between 4 and 8 pCi/l.
  • The EPA Action level is based upon an annual average. Although the result is now above the EPA Action Level of 4 pCi/l, radon levels fluctuate, so the home’s annual average radon level may be lower than the initial short-term test result. Therefore, a second, confirming test is recommended. <>
  • A long-term test for a full year is recommended and will provide a more definitive radon concentration.
  • If the year-long test is below 4 pCi/l, there is no need to take further action.
  • If the year-long test is at or above 4 pCi/l, radon mitigation is recommended.
  • If you wish to conduct a second short-term test instead of a long-term test, then make a decision to mitigate based on the average of the two short-term tests.
  • A year-long test is easier to conduct as you don’t have to worry about keeping doors and windows shut during the test. A long-term test device is not susceptible to various environmental factors that can affect short-term tests.
    • Long-term tests are available at several University of Nevada Cooperative Extension offices statewide for $15. Call the Radon hotline, 888-RADON10 (888-723-6610), to determine which Extension office has long-term kits.
    • Test kits can also be sent by mail. To purchase a kit with a check or credit card, see “Where to Get a Radon Test Kit” at the top of this page.
  • The result is greater than 8 pCi/l.
    • Follow up with a second short-term test to confirm the elevated level of radon.
      • If the average of the first and second short-term test is less than 4 pCi/l, no action is needed but a year-long test is now recommended.
      • If the average of the first and second short-term test is 4 pCi/l or above, radon mitigation is recommended.
  • The result is greater than 20 pCi/l.
    • Confirm the initial test result with a second short-term test. If the average of the test results is greater than 20 pCi/l, we recommend mitigating the home within six months.

    How to Use a Short-Term Test Kit

    Testing is easy and takes 3 days to complete. The Nevada Radon Education Program offers two types of short-term tests, Charcoal Pouch and Liquid Scintillation (vial) test kits.

    Testing for a home purchase

    We highly recommend using a certified radon testing professional when testing for radon in a home for purchase. Professional testers know the protocol and the correct test location. If a tester uses a “continuous radon monitor,” they can provide a test result after a 48-hour test period.

    How to Use a Long-Term Test Kit

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

    Preparing for the long-term test
    • Carefully read and follow the instructions that come with your test kit.
    • Write down the start date and the location of where you placed the test device (lowest lived-in level of the home).
    • Place the test kit datasheet and postage-paid mailing envelope in a place you will remember or close to the test device so that you can find it after the 12-month period.
    • You do not need to close your windows and doors prior to beginning the test or while conducting the test. Operate the heating and air-conditioning systems normally.
    Starting the 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).
    • The manufacturer also suggests placing a test device on each level of the home.
    • 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.
    • Test devices should be at least 4 inches from other objects.
    During the test
    • Leave the test device in place for at least 91 days to 12 months.
    • The test can be run under normal living conditions, i.e., windows, and/or doors can be open.
    After the test
    • Follow the instructions that come with the test kit.
    • Write down the stop date. Record and keep the kit serial number for your records.
    • Be sure to insert the datasheet into the postage-paid envelope before sealing it.
    • Immediately send the test to the lab address listed on the package.
    • You should receive test results within a month.
    • 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 below 2 pCi/l. 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.