Radon: Who Can Test For It?

Or, simply put, don’t you really want to know if you can test it yourself?

In the Kansas City area, most radon professionals charge about $125 to conduct a 48 hour radon test. Test kits can be obtained from multiple places for much, much less. So why hire a professional?

First, lets look at the reasons to test for radon. The EPA states that radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer in the United States. The EPA and the U.S. Surgeon General estimate that approximately 22,000 people die a year in this country from lung cancer caused by radon inhalation. Simple arithmatic would indicate that if there are about 2 million people in the greater Kansas City area, and approximately 300 million in the US, then there are about 146 people dying in this area each year from lung cancer caused by radon. 

The national average says that 6% of all homes have elevated radon levels (Greater Than 4.0 pCi/l). However, in the Kansas City area, our experience tells us that approximately 40% of all homes have elevated radon. This would lead to the conclusion that many more people are at risk of lung cancer caused by radon in the Kansas City than the numbers indicated by the simple math above.

Until 1998, the EPA kept lists of people that were “Qualified” to test for radon in residential housing. They stopped this program, presumably due to budget cuts, and encouraged private programs to “qualify” radon professionals. The two programs that the EPA recognized for radon proficiency programs were the National Environmental Health Association (NEHA) and the National Radon Safety Board (NRSB).

In order for a professional to be recognized as “qualified” by either of these programs, the individuals have to have completed a radon proficiency training program and passed a recognized examination to prove their knowledge. “Qualified” individuals have proven their knowledge of Radon, including what it is, how it is harmful, how it enters a home, and how to properly test for it. They have proven their knowledge of the EPA Protocols for Radon testing devices and Protocols for conducting a radon meaurement. Measurement procedures can vary house by house, so knowing how to test for it properly can affect the results and thereby affect your knowledge of whether or not individuals in a house are at risk of radon exposure.

I’m of the belief that if I’m at risk of contracting lung cancer, I want to know it, and I want to be certain. I’m not qualified to diagnose myself of having lung cancer so I’d seek out a professional if I was concerned about it. By the same token, you should also do the same if you’re testing for radon.

Check out www.radongas.org for a list of qualified NEHA radon measurement providers. Or do it yourself if you really think its worth it.

But whatever you decide, DON’T waste your money by hiring someone to do the test that is not qualified – you might as well go buy lottery tickets.


2 responses to “Radon: Who Can Test For It?

  1. What do you know about the mail-in kits that you can buy at Lowes? Any thoughts?

  2. Those kits are fine if they’re used properly. They shouldn’t be used in a real estate transaction, as you’ll have trouble getting the results within the inspection period on the contract. The other problem with those kits is that you won’t know if it was tampered with. Someone can set it outside, in a plastic bag, or seal it in some way as to affect the results, thereby invalidating the test.

    But if the kit is for your own home, and you follow the instructions, it should give valid results.

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