Radon is a gas created by the decomposition of uranium, which occurs naturally in igneous rock and soil. It has no taste, odor, or color and cannot be detected without testing. Because radon is radioactive, it can cause lung cancer in people exposed to it for several years. According to the EPA, radon gas is the second leading cause of lung cancer in the United States after cigarette smoke.
Radon gets into your home as the soil or rock beneath your home breaks down over time. This is a naturally occurring process that can happen anywhere at any time. The gas rises as it is produced, flowing straight into your home’s air. 1 in 5 homes across all 50 states are estimated to have elevated levels of radon.
Performing a radon detection test on your air and well water is the only way to know if your home is affected. Some can be done DIY, while others may require professional assistance. The location of your home, whether you have a well, and DIY all impact the cost. The average cost for testing for radon ranges from $125 to $350, with most homeowners paying $200 for an installed continuous radon monitor. You can get a simple DIY short-term radon testing kit for as low as $15, or you can opt for professional radon inspection and testing, which costs up to $400.
|Radon Testing Cost|
|National average cost||$200|
Radon is a naturally occurring gas produced as uranium breaks down in the soil, and this happens worldwide. Since your home’s air pressure is usually lower than the pressure in the soil around it, your home may suck in radon gas through foundation cracks or wall gaps.
A well might be another source of radon because it can contaminate well water and disperse it around the home. There are even situations where radon is present in the construction materials used to build a home, but this is quite rare.
Radon testing helps determine the presence of radon in your home and calculate how much radon you have. Four or more picocuries per liter (pCi/L) is classed as a high reading of radon, and there are various test types to figure out how much radon you have. The table below shows some test types, along with average costs:
|Testing Type||Average Costs|
|Short-Term Testing||$15 - $300|
|In-Water Test||$25 - $100|
|Long-Term Testing||$25 - $300|
|Professional Inspection||$125 - $400|
Average costs for short-term testing range from $15 to $300. Short-term kits are the fastest way to check for radon in your home or workplace. They come in various forms, typically only needing 2-3 days to provide results, but some devices stay for up to 90 days. A short-term test can be useful to tell you if radon is present but is less accurate than a long-term alternative because radon levels vary daily.
Radon can enter your home via well water, so consider an in-water radon test if you have a well. On average, these tests cost between $25 and $100. You can buy DIY in-water tests or hire a professional. Even with DIY kits, you typically need to fill up vials with sample water and send them off to a lab for analysis.
Costs for long-term radon testing typically range from $25 to $300. Long-term tests are designed for a more accurate picture of the radon levels than short-term tests, but they take much longer. They usually must remain inside for at least 90 days, with some staying for up to a year.
Professional radon inspectors use different testing methods to check for radon in your home and usually charge between $125 and $400 for their services. You may prefer to have a professional radon inspector come to your property and carry out the tests themselves if you are worried about accuracy or mistakes.
Short-term radon testing is popular for people who want to find out as quickly as possible if they have dangerous levels of radon. Short-term tests can be completed in a couple of days, but others involve devices remaining in the home for up to 90 days.
Radon levels vary throughout the year, so short-term tests are less accurate at providing a year-long picture of radon amounts, but they will tell you if radon is present so that you can take action. The table below shows some common short-term radon test types, complete with average costs:
|Charcoal Canisters||$15 - $150|
|Liquid Scintillation||$15 - $150|
|Alpha Track||$25 - $250|
|Electret Ion Chamber||$35 - $300|
Charcoal canisters contain small amounts of activated charcoal, which is the main ingredient used for testing radon. Expect to pay around $15 to $150 for each. The charcoal absorbs radon from the air around it. Then, it must be analyzed in a lab to understand how much radon was absorbed and estimate the amount of radon in the home. Charcoal canisters are passive short-term radon testing kits, which means they do not need electricity to function.
Liquid scintillation devices are also passive short-term radon testing, requiring no electrical power to operate. Average costs for this test range from $15 to $150. They come in capped vials containing activated charcoal and function effectively the same way as charcoal canisters.
An alpha track detector is another kind of passive short-term radon test, but it can also do long-term testing. It uses a small sheet of plastic placed in the home and left for several weeks or months. Costs for alpha track detectors 5 are between $25 and $250. The presence of radon is detected by microscopic marks that occur on the plastic sheet when particles come into contact with it. These marks can be analyzed and counted in a lab to calculate the estimated radon concentration.
Electret radon monitors are also passive devices containing electro-statically charged Teflon disks that can be positioned in key parts of the home to detect radon. Average costs for these devices range from $35 to $300. Any ions in the surrounding air created by radon decay and that make contact with the disk lower its voltage, so the detector can be left in place for a short while. The voltage drop can be measured to calculate how much radon is present.
Long-term tests are another form of radon testing to consider. They are designed for a period of more than 90 days, usually up to a year, to provide an accurate measurement of general radon levels and how those levels fluctuate.
They are more accurate than short-term tests. If a short-term test shows signs of potentially high levels of radon, experts may recommend a long-term test to confirm before taking action. The table below shows the common methods of long-term radon testing and their average costs.
|Alpha Track||$25 - $250|
|Electret Ion Chamber||$35 - $300|
|Continuous Monitor||$125 - $300|
An alpha track radon detector consists of a sheet of plastic that gets gradually marked and etched when radon is present. Costs for this testing range from $25 to $250 on average. This can be an effective and affordable option for long-term radon testing, and it is simple to set up an alpha track or have a professional prepare it.
An electret radon monitor, also known as an electret ion chamber or detector, is another radon testing device suitable for short and long-term testing. Costs for these monitors are $35 to $300 for each. It can be set up in a part of the property, usually on the lowest level, and then checked after a period of time has passed to calculate the estimated radon levels.
A continuous radon monitor is an example of an active radon testing device, meaning it needs power to function. Expect to pay between $125 and $300. They can also be complicated to install and understand, so they are usually best left to the pros. Unlike other short-term forms of radon testing, which are designed to be completed and analyzed in just a few days, these monitors stay in your home for several weeks or months.
It can be quite easy and affordable to buy and set up a simple home radon testing kit yourself. However, call in a professional for the best results. An experienced, qualified radon inspector can visit your home and set up the tests, reducing the risk of human errors that could interfere with the results.
Professional inspectors may also use more advanced testing equipment than the at-home kits you can buy online, improving overall accuracy. They handle everything from property inspection and test set up to lab analysis, with costs generally ranging from $125 to $400.
Prices for professional radon inspections and testing vary based on which company you contact and where you are located. Many companies offer this service across the U.S, and their prices vary. The table below shows some different brands from around the country, complete with their average costs.
|Brand||Average Inspection Costs|
|The Radon Testing Company||$125 - $250|
|Total Home Inspection Services||$125 - $250|
|HR Inspections||$200 - $300|
|NextDay Inspect||$200 - $350|
|Master Home Inspectors||$250 - $400|
If the short or long-term radon tests show that you have high radon levels in the home, take action immediately. The EPA recommends that action be taken in any home or building where radon levels of 4 pCi/L or higher are detected.
Various options are available for dealing with high levels of radon. One of the most commonly chosen methods is to contact a radon mitigation company. They use various radon mitigation devices and techniques to remove excess radon and reduce the amount of radon entering your property in the future.
Sealing is a common radon remediation method, where gaps and cracks in the foundation or basement are sealed to prevent radon from entering the property. This is usually paired with other methods because it is not very effective alone. Ventilation and suction pump systems can also force the gas out, or other methods like sub-slab depressurization draws the radon gas out from under your home and releases it outside.
The costs of professional radon mitigation range from $500 to $1,500, and the price depends on your home’s size and the amount of work required.
Radon can pose serious health risks to those exposed to it in high amounts, which is true for both smokers and non-smokers alike. People of all ages and backgrounds have a higher chance of developing lung cancer due to radon exposure.
Estimates from the EPA suggest that radon is the leading cause of lung cancer in the United States in non-smokers, leading to around 21,000 lung cancer deaths annually. Those who smoke are at an even greater risk of developing this disease because their lungs are already weakened from cigarette or tobacco usage.
The CDC confirms that radioactive particles from the gas can get stuck inside your lungs when you inhale radon, increasing the risk of cancer. It might take years of regular exposure to radon for a person to develop any obvious symptoms or health issues. However, it is clear that this gas increases the risk of cancer, with several studies backing this up.
If you choose to do radon testing on your own, act with care and precision to reduce the risk of error. Here are some useful tips to ensure your test results are accurate:
Excessive amounts of radon gas can be a serious threat to your health. In high quantities, this gas can drastically increase one’s risk of developing lung cancer, as confirmed by the EPA and CDC.
You can hire professional radon testing companies to inspect your property and carry out tests, or you can do part of the test yourself and send your test kits and devices to labs for analysis.
Some radon inspection companies also offer radon mitigation services, but others are specialized purely in testing for the presence of the gas.
Opening windows can temporarily lower the amount of radon in your home, but as soon as you close them again, radon levels will return to their usual rates within half a day, so this is not a viable long-term option.
Yes, new homes can be built with radon-reduction systems and radon-resistant materials. The EPA recommends talking to your builder about radon-resistant materials and options to find out more.
Radon can lead to lung cancer risks for those living or working in a building. So, it can be very important to have an inspection, especially when moving to a new home or carrying out renovation work.