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Need To Test Your Home For Radon? Here Are 3 Reasons Why Active Testing Devices Are More Accurate Than Passive Test Kits

by Marie Cox

Radon gas can enter homes through cracks in the foundation, and it's a significant health hazard. Exposure to high concentrations of radon gas increases the risk that you'll develop lung cancer, so it's important to test your home for the presence of radon and take steps to reduce the levels if your home has dangerously high concentrations of radon inside of it. When testing your home for radon, you'll have the choice of either using a passive test kit or an active testing device.

Passive test kits, like charcoal kits and alpha-track kits, absorb or react to radon in the air. You set them up inside your home and send them into a lab so that the amount of radon they're exposed to can be measured. Active test devices, on the other hand, constantly measure and report the level of radon in the air surrounding them. Active testing devices cost more than passive test kits, but they're typically more accurate. When you need to measure the level of radon inside your home, read on to learn three reasons why active radon testing is better.

1. Passive Testing Is More Susceptible to Hidden Errors

Whether you're using a charcoal test kit or an alpha-track one, the lab results you'll receive from a passive test are highly influenced by where you place the test kit. Lab results are dependent on how much radon the passive test kit is exposed to over time.

If you place the kit in front of a fan or near an air vent, it will be exposed to more radon-containing air, and the test results that come back will be erroneously high. Similarly, placing a passive test kit in the corner of a room where it's not exposed to much airflow will cause the test results to come back too low.

With active test kits, you don't encounter the risk of hidden errors in the results. You're able to instantaneously see how much radon is in the air, so you can move the active testing device around until you've found a good location that gives you an average reading of how much radon is in the room. This makes active testing a generally more accurate method of determining how much radon you're exposed to in your home.

2. Active Testing Can Provide Continuous Monitoring

The fact that active radon testing devices can give you an instant reading on how much radon is inside your home allows them to act as radon alarms. Many devices can be connected to smartphone apps, allowing them to send an alert to your phone if radon levels in your home become dangerous. If the radon mitigation system in your home fails, or if cracks open up in your foundation that allow more radon into your home, you'll immediately know about it when you have an active radon testing device in your home. You'll ensure that you're always safe from dangerous levels of radon exposure.

3. Active Testing Can Find Radon Hot Spots in Your Home

Finally, active radon testing devices are able to detect areas of your home that have higher radon levels than others. Radon is heavier than air, and it comes into your home from the soil, so it typically collects and concentrates on the lowest levels of your home. However, your HVAC system may move radon around — if there's a furnace in your basement with a leaking return duct, radon in the basement may be sucked into the furnace and blown into one of the above-ground rooms in your home. With an active radon testing device, you can instantly check radon levels in every room in your home, allowing you to find any hot spots where radon levels may be dangerously high.

While active radon testing devices are more expensive than passive test kits, they're much more useful in determining whether or not your home has dangerous levels of radon. If you haven't tested your home for radon or if you've relied on passive test kits, consider purchasing an active radon testing device in order to make a more accurate assessment of radon levels inside your home. You can also hire the services of a radon testing contractor — they use active testing to measure radon levels in your home, and hiring a contractor is often cheaper than purchasing an active testing device of your own.