Consumers

Nearly 1 out of every 15 homes in the U.S. is estimated to have elevated radon levels. Elevated levels of radon gas have been found in homes in Kentucky.  While radon problems may be more common in some areas, any home may have a problem. The only way to know about your home is to test.

While radon mitigation is the same in either case, different radon measurement procedures and considerations apply depending upon whether you own the home or are buying a home.

KARP Member Locator - Find your Kentucky Radon Measurement or Kentucky Radon Mitigation Professional

Bear in mind that the documents from which the below information was extracted have not been updated in some time, the EPA now recommends that you should consider fixing your home if the test result is over 2.0 picocuries per liter of air. 

Unfortunately, many Americans presume that because the action level is 4 pCi/L, a radon level of less than 4 pCi/L is "safe". This perception is altogether too common in the residential real estate market In managing any risk, we should be concerned with the greatest risk. For most Americans, their greatest exposure to radon is in their homes; especially in rooms that are below grade (e.g., basements), rooms that are in contact with the ground and those rooms immediately above them.

 Kentucky Home Buyers
(from the EPA Home Buyer's & Home Seller's Guide to Radon)
 Kentucky Home Owners
(from the EPA A Citizen's Guide to Radon)
 

If you decide that a new test is needed, discuss it with the seller as soon as possible. If you decide to use a qualified radon tester, see the KARP Measurement Member Directory or contact the Kentucky Radon Program to obtain a copy of their approved list of radon testing companies.

Make sure that a radon test is done as soon as possible. Consider including provisions in the contract specifying:

·  Who should conduct the test;

·  What type of test to do;

·  When to do the test;

·  How the seller and buyer will share the test results and test costs;

·  When radon mitigation measures will be taken and who will pay for them

Make sure that the test is done in the lowest level of the home that could be used regularly. This means the lowest level that you are going to use as living space whether it is finished or unfinished. A state or local radon official or qualified radon tester can help you make some of these decisions.

If you decide to finish or renovate an unfinished area of the home in the future, a radon test should be taken before starting the project and after the project is finished. Generally, it is less expensive to install a radon-reduction system before (or during) renovations rather than afterwards.

 

How to Test Your Home

You can't see radon, but it's not hard to find out if you have a radon problem in your home. All you need to do is test for radon. Testing is easy and should only take a few minutes of your time.

There are Two General Ways to Test for Radon:

SHORT-TERM TESTING:

The quickest way to test is with short-term tests. Short-term tests remain in your home for two days to 90 days, depending on the device. "Charcoal canisters," "alpha track," "electret ion chamber," "continuous monitors," and "charcoal liquid scintillation" detectors are most commonly used for short-term testing. Because radon levels tend to vary from day to day and season to season, a short-term test is less likely than a long-term test to tell you your year-round average radon level. If you need results quickly, however, a short-term test followed by a second short-term test may be used to decide whether to fix your home

How To Use a Test Kit:

Testing is easy and should only take a few minutes of your time.

Follow the instructions that come with your test kit. If you are doing a short-term test, close your windows and outside doors and keep them closed as much as possible during the test. Heating and air-conditioning system fans that re-circulate air may be operated. Do not operate fans or other machines which bring in air from outside. Fans that are part of a radon-reduction system or small exhaust fans operating only for short periods of time may run during the test. If you are doing a short-term test lasting just 2 or 3 days, be sure to close your windows and outside doors at least 12 hours before beginning the test, too. You should not conduct short-term tests lasting just 2 or 3 days during unusually severe storms or periods of unusually high winds. The test kit 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). It should be put in a room that is used regularly (like a living room, playroom, den or bedroom) but not your kitchen or bathroom. Place the kit at least 20 inches above the floor in a location where it won't be disturbed - away from drafts, high heat, high humidity, and exterior walls. Leave the kit in place for as long as the package says. Once you've finished the test, reseal the package and send it to the lab specified on the package right away for analysis. You should receive your test results within a few weeks.

LONG-TERM TESTING:

Long-term tests remain in your home for more than 90 days. "Alpha track" and "electret" detectors are commonly used for this type of testing. A long-term test will give you a reading that is more likely to tell you your home's year-round average radon level than a short-term test.

EPA Recommends the Following Testing Steps:

Step 1.  Take a short-term test. If your result is 4 pCi/L or higher take a follow-up test (Step 2) to be sure.

Step 2.  Follow up with either a long-term test or a second short-term test:

· For a better understanding of your year-round average radon level, take a long-term test.

· If you need results quickly, take a second short-term test.

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 first short-term test result is more than twice EPA's 4 pCi/L action level, you should take a second short-term test immediately.

Step 3.  If you followed up with a long-term test: Fix your home if your long-term test result is 4 pCi/L or more. If you followed up with a second short-term test: The higher your short-term results, the more certain you can be that you should fix your home. Consider fixing your home if the average of your first and second test is 4 pCi/L or higher.



Kentucky does not yet require radon contractors to be trained, licensed or insured — however, only highly qualified professionals should conduct radon measurement testing and radon mitigation. The Kentucky Radon Program and Kentucky Association of Radon Professionals recommend making an informed decision when choosing a Kentucky radon contractor by following these easy steps:

1.  Rely on the Kentucky Radon Program
Two national accreditation agencies, the National Environmental Health Association (NEHA) and National Radon Safety Board (NRSB), maintain training and certification programs for radon contractors. For your convenience, the state radon program maintains a profile on each radon contractor providing services in Kentucky and who is certified through one of these agencies that includes:  

  • Certification information and status
  • Consumer complaint information and status, if applicable

While certification is very important in assessing qualifications, not all certified companies adhere to equal levels of proficiency, quality control and ethical business practices.

2. Obtain Important Contractor Documentation
For your protection, we recommend you obtain the following documentation from your radon contractor:

  • Written proof of both general and professional liability insurance specific to radon.
  • Written proof of electrician licensure and insurance coverage naming your contractor as additional insured. Wiring a radon system without a licensed electrician is a violation of state law.
  • A written agreement stating that current EPA-endorsed mitigation standards will be followed.
  • The calibration certificate for the machine used for post-mitigation testing, showing equipment calibration within the past 12 months.

3.  Conduct Additional Research
Ensure your radon contractor is in good standing by checking references and independent consumer resources such as:

  • Better Business Bureau: http://www.bbb.org
  • Angie’s List: http://www.angieslist.com

KARP also recommend conducting your own independent post mitigation radon measurement to ensure your radon levels have been reduced.

KARP Member Locator - Find your Kentucky Radon Measurement or Kentucky Radon Mitigation Professional