Owning a radon detector is a must if you’re a homeowner. I know that may sound like hype but honestly, you have no other way of knowing if radon gas is seeping into your home. That’s a fact, not hyperbole.
Radon gas is a noble gas with the following properties: radioactive, colorless, odorless, and tasteless. If it’s leaking in your home right now, you wouldn’t know it, but over time it can cause lung cancer. It’s a serious problem that most homeowners do not think about — but should.
There are some simple things you can do. First, get educated on the issue and second, purchase a radon gas detector, like the fantastic Airthings Corentium Home (Airthings formerly Canary), which we review as well. This article will provide you with everything you need to protect yourself and your family. We hope you find it useful.
3 Models :
- Airthings Corentium Home | Designed for homeowners
- Airthings Corentium Plus | For advanced users | More data
- Airthings Corentium Pro | For professionals | AARST-NRPP certified
Note: We’ve included the features on all these models later in the article so you can compare and decide which one is right for you. For most homeowners, the Home model is the right choice.
What is Radon Gas?
Radon is a radioactive gas that exists naturally from emissions as uranium breaks down into soil. This radioactive gas occurs in outdoor air and can become present in homes in small amounts through access points. It has no color, odor or taste, but it can cause potentially life-threatening health risks. There are various factors that can affect the levels of radon gas such as construction material, local geology and how the home was built.
Video | Radon in 60 Seconds
How Does Radon Gas Exposure Affect You?
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimates that exposure to radon causes more than approximately 20,000 cancer-related deaths every year. In fact, exposure to high levels of radon gas over a period of time is the second leading cause of lung cancer among individuals who do not smoke! According to the EPA, radon levels that are at or above 4 picocuries per liter of air (or pCi/l) can put you at a dangerous risk for developing lung cancer.
The invisible dangers of exposure to high radon concentrations is what makes it so unique. Unlike other types of radioactive gas, there are no immediate side effects from exposure. Radon gas that seeps into your home through access points doesn’t disperse as it does outdoors so concentrations can build up in your home. Breathing in this gas over a period of time in high levels leads to the development of cancer cells in the lining of the lungs. Most homeowners are not even aware they have been exposed until they become diagnosed.
The only way to know if your home has high radon levels is through testing, which is recommended by the EPA when buying a home. Much like Carbon Monoxide, you can measure the level of radon gas in your home by using a radon detector. Monitoring the levels of your home can help you control the air quality and reduce your risks substantially.
Should You Test Your Home for Radon?
Radon is not subjected to just certain regions. It has been detected in every state and on average, 1 in every 15 homes has elevated radon levels. It doesn’t matter what type of home you live in either, as it can occur in homes new and old. Radon gas can enter a home as it moves up through the ground and into the air, usually from areas where soil comes into contact with your home’s basement floor or walls. Common access points include:
- Cracks in a foundation or the walls
- Construction joints
- Gaps in the floor
- Spaces around service pipes
- Crawl spaces that lead into buildings
These are just a few examples where radon gas can enter a home. The levels vary greatly and can be significantly different from one home to the next. So what can you do about it? Have your home tested. Radon testing is a very easy process and there are multiple methods of testing your home to check for high levels of radon so you can take action before it takes you!
What is the Best Radon Detector for Homeowners?
There are several ways that you can have your home tested for high levels of radon. The EPA suggests testing your home via short-term and long-term detection. DIY kits are the most common as they’re easy to do and less expensive than hiring a professional to come out and test. Simple short-term tests are usually found in hardware and home improvement stores as well as online.
Video | Airthings Corentium Home | The Facts
These tests are designed to measure the radon levels in your home based on placement over the course of a few days. It’s very important that directions for performing the test are followed carefully to ensure accurate measurements. The test is then mailed off to a lab and results are determined over a few days to a couple of weeks. These tests are short-term use only and will indicate if further testing is needed.
A long-term radon test measures levels over the course of three months to a year. These can provide a more accurate level of the amount of radon your home averages over the short-term tests. State radon agencies can provide homeowners with these as well as online retailers that sell them.
Corentium Home by Airthings | Radon Detector
The best radon detector for accuracy is one that will test the levels over the course of a period of time to determine the actual levels that your home averages in a year. Since these levels can vary from day to day, a short term test may not be a good indication of the average concentrations within your home, leaving you at risk. The Corentium Home by Air Things is definitely one of the best radon detectors in our book for many reasons. It provides the convenience of DIY kits and the accuracy you would expect from a professional using digital technology.
Airthings is a company that is committed to raising awareness and educating homeowners as well as business owners of the dangers of this invisible killer. They are a driven team of researchers and engineers that are dedicated in providing leading technology to help control the air we breathe. They provide easy-to-use digital radon detectors that accurately measure and pick up on high concentrations of radon gas like the Corentium Home detector.
This radon detector is unlike others you’ll likely see in most hardware stores. It is designed with revolutionary technology to deliver accurate results for short term and long-term use. The handheld device can be taken from one room to the next so you can get a more detailed report of the average levels found in your home in as little as 24 hours. There is no need for multiple tests to check different rooms and you do not have to mail anything in and wait for weeks on end to get your results.
After approximately 7 days of use, 80% of the measurements taken by the device are within 20% of the actual radon gas level in your home. If elevated radon levels are detected in your home, the sooner you receive the results the better so you can take immediate action to fix the problem and minimize your risk.
Video | Airthings Corentium Home | Radon Detector
With standard DIY radon detectors, activated charcoal is used to measure the radon levels that are getting picked up. This isn’t entirely accurate at determining levels as there can be inconsistencies that will interfere with results. For instance, if there is high humidity in an area, this can affect the outcome of the test. The Corentium Home radon detector doesn’t pull air or use charcoal to monitor the concentration of radon throughout your home; therefore, environmental changes won’t affect the results.
The internal components of the device are designed for quality and long-lasting use without effects on the detector’s reliability. It comes pre-calibrated so there’s no need to re-calibrate annually as it adapts to environmental changes automatically. It can provide continuous monitoring and the readings can be cleared and reset to allow you to retest. The LCD display makes it very easy to read results and it comes with 3 AAA batteries with an average lifespan of 2 years.
Why Corentium Home is superior to a one-time radon test?
✓ Why is the Airthings Home better than paying for a professional inspection? Well, here’s a very good reason from the Corentium Home Canada site (click the “Online Report” tab to see it for yourself):
Radon levels can greatly vary over a short period of time. Several factors may cause this variation: temperature, wind speed, type and amount of precipitation, atmospheric pressure, and more. Therefore, it is not uncommon to see radon levels more than double within a single day.
Health risks are calculated based on average levels of exposure to radon over an extended period of time. Therefore, when taking measurements of radon concentrations, it is better to have the longest possible sampling period so that the extrapolation obtained by analyzing test results corresponds as closely as possible to the actual trend to come.
However, during a real estate transaction, all inspections must be performed in a defined and often a relatively short period of time. In these circumstances, it is still possible to perform radon testing to provide an indication of what could be the general levels of radon.
✓ View or download a proficiency report for the Corentium Home.
Corentium was in 2013 tested at IRSN (Institut de Radioprotection et de Sûreté Nucléaire) in France. The test was conducted over 3 months at a radon level of 4.59 pCi/L (170 Bq/m3). The average for the 20 tested devices was 4.51 pCi/L (167 Bq/m3).
- Radon Sampling Method : Passive radon diffusion chamber
- Radon Detection Method : Alpha spectrometry using digital detector technology.
- Precision (at 100Bq/m³):
- Short term (7 days)
- Long term : 20% after 1 week / 10% after 1 month
- Accuracy: < 5% ± 5 Bq/m3
- Power : 3 AAA alkaline battery / 3 years battery life-time
- Power Consumption : < 250µW
- Dimensions : 120mm × 69mm × 22.5mm
- Weight : 130 grams (incl. batteries)
- Temperature: +4 °C to +40 °C
- Relative Humidity < 95%
- 0 Bq/m³ (lower detection limit)
- 9999 Bq/m³ (upper display limit)
Learn more by visiting the Airthings Corentium Home help page.
Best Radon Detector for Businesses
Airthings has two additional radon gas detectors for homeowners or professionals who need (or want) more data in order to determine precise radon measurements, including hourly levels.
Airthings Corentium Plus | More Data | Advanced Radon Detector
Features : (Corentium plus)
- LCD screen shows 1-day and 7-day averages, updated hourly, and long term averages over the period of up to one year.
- Equipped with sensors for temperature, humidity, atmospheric pressure, and tilt.
- Ability to turn the display off during measurement.
- Stores up to 10 years of data at 1-hour resolution.
- Upload to PC with a micro-USB cable (included).
- Includes user-friendly and Excel-compatible software for analysis and reporting.
- Work/time exposure calculation shows what parts of the day levels are high.
- 2 year battery life.
Homes are not the only places that radon gas can be found in high concentrations. Businesses and schools among other buildings can also become affected by high levels of radon gas. This poses a grave risk to the general public, especially those that may spend prolonged periods of time in these establishments.
This is why the experts at Airthings manufacture superior products with the best radon detector models for different purposes. The Corentium Plus and Corentium Pro series radon detectors are designed for professional use. In addition to the advanced technology that delivers fast and accurate readings for radon levels, these devices are equipped with other sensors as well. They can provide readings on humidity levels and atmospheric pressure among other things.
Updates on fluctuations are available hourly and it comes with its own user-friendly software so data can be uploaded and recorded straight to a PC. These professional-grade models can determine short-term averages over 1-day or 7-days, and long-term averages over the course of a year. They can also provide specifically what times of the day that radon concentrations were at their highest.
The difference in the Plus and the Pro model lies in the product features as well as official testing use. The Corentium Pro is the only radon detector model by Airthings that is certified for official testing in the U.S. and Canada for professional use and home inspectors. It comes with a tripod socket for convenience with short-term tests during home inspections. It also offers an app in addition to the software to display readings and provide updates through your smartphone with Bluetooth technology.
Airthings Corentium Pro | AARST-NRPP certified
Features : (Corentium Pro)
- AARST-NRPP certified for home inspections and radon testing.
- Data, captured using four highly accurate silicon photodiodes.
- Radon data by the hour.
- Bluetooth Wireless connection.
- iOS and Android app.
- Equipped with sensors for temperature, humidity, atmospheric pressure, and tilt.
- Includes user-friendly and excel compatible software for analysis and reporting.
- Work/time exposure calculation shows what parts of the day levels are high.
- Stores up to 5 years of data at 1-hour resolution.
- Sockets for Tripod and Kensington Security cable.
- Include suitcase, micro USB cable, CRA software, 3 AAA batteries.
- 1.5 year battery life.
- Expected lifetime of 10 years.
What Should You Do if You Have High Radon Levels?
Testing your home or business for radon concentrations is the first step in taking action to control air quality and lower your health risks. So what do you do if your detector measures high levels of radon gas? First, you should re-test to confirm your results since the levels can fluctuate. An average level the reads 4pCi/l or greater over 2 or more short-term tests or a long-term test average above this level after 90 days or more indicates high concentrations of radon gas. The environmental protection agency strongly recommends seeking action to reduce the levels of radon in your home at these measurements.
High radon concentrations in your home can be resolved by doing it yourself or hiring a professional contractor. Reducing radon concentrations is achieved by a radon mitigation system. A mitigation system, when done correctly, reduces the concentrations in the home within 24 hours and can significantly reduce your chances of developing lung cancer.
If you are confident in your handyman capabilities, correcting the problem yourself can be a cost-effective solution to reducing radon levels in your home. These mitigation systems require specific tools and a skill set to do it correctly, so you may need to do your research. A simple mitigation system consists of underground pipes and an exhaust fan that are designed to eliminate radon gas from below your home to prevent it from entering.
The cost of doing it yourself varies, but you can typically purchase the necessary parts for DIY mitigation for less than $250. If considering installing a radon reduction system yourself, ask yourself these questions:
- Can you drill a hole through concrete slab using a hammer drill?
- How skilled are you in electrical wiring?
- Are you able to effectively run an exhaust pipe at least 10 feet away from entrances?
It is very important that all elements required in installing a mitigation system are done properly to effectively remove and reduce radon gas emissions from your home. Some states have regulations on radon mitigation systems that must meet specific requirements. Be sure to check out your state’s radon agency for details. They can usually provide you with a list of certified or licensed contractors skilled in radon reduction as well.
The cost of hiring a professional contractor for radon reduction can typically range from $700 to as much as $2500! Factors such as the size of the building as well as your location along with other factors will determine the going rate for professional services. Compile a list of licensed contractors to contact and compare pricing information. Your radon reduction system will also need to be checked periodically to ensure it’s running properly.
Reducing Your Chances of High Radon Levels
Even if you tested your home and the average levels are below what the EPA recommends action for, it’s in the best interest of your health and those around you to reduce your chances. There are preventative measures you can take that will help in reducing radon levels from building up in your home. It’s best to take action beforehand to lower your risk and save you money later on down the road.
Be sure to seal all cracks and gaps where the gas can enter your home. This is a basic step that can help in reducing the flow of radon from entering your home; however it will not lower the concentrations of the levels within your home that are already present. This step will also improve the effectiveness of a radon reduction system.
If you are in the market for a new home, check out the zone of the area you are considering. The EPA has a map of zones that list areas with potentially high indoor radon averages. If you are looking to buy a home in a high radon area, inquire about radon testing to see if it’s been done and if there is a mitigation system in place. Likewise, if you live in a high radon area you will need to have your current home tested before selling.
An important question new home buyers should ask, especially in potentially high radon areas, is if there are radon-resistant construction features. These are specific techniques used in construction that reduce the chances of the gas entering the home and building up to dangerous levels. If you are building a new home, consider having these features incorporated in your design:
- A gas permeable layer – for homes that are built on casement and slab-on-grade foundations, this is a layer of gas-permeable material which is placed prior to the slab or flooring system for the home. The most commonly used material for this is gravel in a 4-inch layer and allows the soil gas to move freely beneath the house rather than entering it.
- Plastic sheeting – this is an element added above the gas-permeable layer and below the slab that prevents the soil gases from releasing into the home.
- Install a vent pipe – a gas-tight PVC pipe that is 3 to 4-inches can be designed into the house plans to go from the gas permeable layer to the top of the roof so as to vent radon gas safely above your home and not in it.
If your home is treated and fixed for high radon concentrations, you should retest at least every 2 years to ensure it’s working and your averages aren’t above the EPA’s recommendation. The Corentium Home by AirThings radon detector has an estimated life of 10 years, providing homeowners ease-of-use when it comes to testing their homes and reassurance.