Do you know everything you need to know about radon? While you may have checked out our previous article, you may not know everything about testing for radon. Since radon is known to be odorless and colorless, it can be difficult to tell if your home’s air contains radon just by looking or smelling for it. And, while some people report experiencing exposure-related health symptoms as a result of radon in the home (like worsening cough or hoarseness), radon can often float in your air undetected for long periods of time. With 1 in 15 homes recording high levels of radon, this is not just another concern to sweep under your rug.
Whether you’re a new homeowner or a long-time resident, it’s important to check up on the radon levels in your home every so often…but how often exactly? And how do you even test for radon? Are these tests even accurate? Find the answers to these radon-related questions and more below!
Test Your Radon Knowledge
Is Testing the Only Way to Check for Radon?
The short answer: Yes! According to the CDC, testing is the only true way to know if your home has a radon problem. If you suspect you have a radon problem, there are two types of testing routes that you can explore: Passive and active tests.
A passive test is one that doesn’t need power to operate. These tests can usually be found in your local hardware store but can also be ordered by phone. Passive testing devices work by being exposed to your home’s air for a specific period of time to collect data. After collection, the testing device is sent to the lab for further inspection.
An active test is one that does require power. With an active test, you are able to continuously measure and record the amount of radon that’s in your air.
Are Radon Tests Accurate and Reliable?
Like any test, there’s always a chance that errors can occur, like false negatives or positives. But there are many ways to ensure accuracy and reliability while testing your home for radon, including considering the duration of your test.
A short-term test monitors your radon levels for about two to seven days. Because of the length, short-term tests are usually the more common choice among homeowners. However, since the level of radon in your home is known to fluctuate, experts suggest that if you choose to perform a short-term test, you should administer the test twice for increased accuracy.
A long-term test is one that monitors your home’s radon levels for three to 12 months. Because the levels of radon in your home are known to fluctuate, a long-term test can account for potential changes in levels due to its longer monitoring time.
While test kits are not necessarily inaccurate, it has been proven that results from a professional will always be more accurate than an at-home DIY test. Why exactly? Keep reading to find out!
Should I Call a Pro or Purchase a DIY Testing Kit?
Doing it yourself or choosing to call in a pro is completely up to you! If you suspect there’s a radon problem in your home for any reason, use a DIY test first to see what results you discover. If you know your home already has a problem (and are not sure to what extent) or are planning to buy a new home or sell an older one, calling a professional is the recommended route. Not only can a pro’s test be more accurate, as we mentioned above, but it’ll also give you the peace of mind you’re looking for.
If you’re planning to use a DIY test, review this checklist from the EPA prior to testing. Some key steps the EPA recommends taking prior to using an at-home, short-term radon test include:
Ensuring all windows and outside doors are closed at least 12 hours prior to testing
Placing the device at least 20 inches above the floor, away from drafts, heat, humidity, and exterior walls and on the lowest livable level of your home
Avoiding testing during any major weather events or storms
If you’re planning to hire a professional to come test for radon, the EPA has a checklist for you too! Hiring a pro can be beneficial since they can provide an independent testing result. Plus, they can further educate you on the best ways to perform a radon test—just in case you plan to use a DIY test in the future.
What Level of Radon is Considered Hazardous?
The results of your radon test can help you conclude whether or not the radon level in your home is hazardous. Radon levels are typically measured by pCi/L or picocuries per liter of air. A ‘picocurie’ is a measure of the rate of radioactive decay of radon, with the suffix ‘curie’ meaning unit of radioactivity. For scaling purposes, a picocurie is measured as one trillionth of a curie, making a picocurie almost six times smaller than the thickness of human hair!
Having a radon reading of 4 pCi/L or higher is considered hazardous. Even if your test reads less than 4, it can still pose a health risk to those living in your home. Reducing your level of radon below 4 pCi/L is not only necessary, but it’s easy, too. Most remediation options promise to reduce your home’s level to 2 pCi/L or lower, although it isn’t too common to get below 2. Regardless, remediation can help reduce your home’s radon levels and help you create a Healthy Home environment once more.
How Often Should You Test for Radon?
Since we know that radon levels can continue to fluctuate, the EPA recommends homeowners test their home’s radon levels every two years.
Radon can be hazardous to your home and health. Luckily, discovering you have a problem—as well as fixing it—is easy! No matter where you live, it’s important to prioritize the health of your home and family. Even if your home doesn’t have a radon problem, there could still be other pollutants lingering inside your home and in turn, impacting your Indoor Air Quality.
With Healthy Air solutions from Aprilaire, you can keep your family breathing easy and protect them from other common airborne contaminants, like dust, viruses, and more, which can be dirtying the air in your home. Find a Healthy Air Professional in your area to learn about how the air in your home could be impacting your health and learn more about what you can do to fight back.
It’s Time to Care About Healthy Air Breathe a sigh of relief.
Listen to the post by clicking the play button above
Believe it or not, spring is almost here. This changing of seasons brings to mind the themes of renewal and refreshment—both of which we could all benefit from this year!
Before you get started with the renewal and refreshment of your home, you might need to do some “spring cleaning” of your cleaning supplies. The American Lung Association recommends avoiding air fresheners and any products that contain fragrances, irritants, volatile organic compounds (VOCs), and flammable ingredients and purchasing green spring cleaning supplies.
So how do you get a fresh space without all your go-to cleaning supplies?
Here are some tips for greener room-by-room cleaning this spring.
Green Spring Cleaning Room-by-Room
Bedroom and Living Areas
Fans: Dust your ceiling fans with an extendable duster and protect furniture or carpets with a drop cloth that can be shaken out outside after dusting.
Walls: Quickly wash walls with a microfiber mop or microfiber cloth wrapped around a broom.
Windows and Glass: Microfiber cloths with a spritz of vinegar and water will do the trick. Just be sure to do this task on an overcast day to prevent streaking from the sun.
Blinds: Use a dusting mitt or microfiber cloth to get in between each blade.
Carpets and fabric couches/chairs: Use this simple carpet deodorizer recipe to freshen your carpets and other fabric-covered surfaces.
Throw Pillows: Because they can be a breeding ground for dust mites, throwing your pillows in the dryer on the high heat setting is an effective, non-toxic way to clean them.
Mattress: Similar to the carpet freshener, combining 2 cups of baking soda with 10 drops of your favorite essential oils is the magic recipe. Brush the mixture into your mattress and let sit for 30 minutes before vacuuming up.
Showerhead: Vinegar can remove buildup on the showerhead or faucet. Pour a cup of vinegar in a plastic bag, tie it around your showerhead and let it soak for one hour, and then scrub clean with an old toothbrush.
Surfaces: You can make your own all-purpose cleaner for countertops, around the toilet, and other surfaces.
Faucets: Water spots can be removed by rubbing half a lemon over the surface.
Toilets: Yes, there is a non-toxic way to clean your toilet! This DIY cleaner uses just five simple ingredients.
Drains: You can’t go wrong with the classic baking soda and vinegar combination. It will work on simple clogs as well as a general refresher.
Microwave: Heat a cup of vinegar mixed with a cup of water on high for two minutes and you’ll be able to easily wipe away all the stains and grime afterward.
Fridge: You’re going to want to wait until your fridge is close to empty to make this process easier. Start by removing everything including any removable drawers or shelves. Wash all parts with warm soapy water and use a baking soda/water paste for any tough stains. Wipe down the exterior, including handles and door seals. Finish by using the brush attachment of your vacuum to clean the coils.
Stainless Steel Appliances/Sinks: Use a small amount of coconut oil to polish your stainless steel. A magic eraser can also help restore shine to your stainless steel sink.
Floors: Hot water and a microfiber mop can get your floors clean without any chemicals. Use the all-purpose cleaner for any caked-on spots.
Washer: Mineral and detergent residue can be removed by running two cups of white vinegar through a hot water cycle (without clothes.) You can repeat this as many times as needed to get your machine smelling and looking clean.
Dryer: Scrub your lint tray with a brush, and use a vacuum cleaner on your dryer vent, vent pipe, and hoses.
Detergent: Make your own laundry detergent to skip the toxins and save big on your laundry expenses.
For all other natural cleaning solutions, check this list of non-toxic home cleaning formulas. When you stay away from harsh, abrasive chemicals in your home, you’re taking a first step towards creating a Healthy Home for you and your family.
Raise a Happy, Healthy Home
Breathe easy with the blueprints to a Healthy Home.
This can help prevent the presence of VOCs in your home and maintain Healthy Air all year round. Click here to see how you can achieve Healthy Air at home with Aprilaire, and enjoy the benefits of reducing dust, mold, and pet dander before you even need to sweep or vacuum.
It’s Time to Care About Healthy Air Breathe a sigh of relief.
Entering the US Bank Center for the American Lung Association’s Fight For Air Climb was a rush of energy.
This seemed less like an arduous trek up 1,000 stairs and more of an indoor festival. There were volunteers ready to greet you and pump you up for the ensuing climb and people from different companies sitting at tables ready to hand out souvenirs.
They were probably also there to distract you after you just got done instinctively looking up toward the top of the 47-story US Bank Center in downtown Milwaukee becoming a little uneasy at the prospect of your journey upward.
Before you made your climb, you gathered as a team and took several escalators down to the basement level before getting warmed up with a quick aerobic routine. Then you took a long and winding tunnel where you greeted by more volunteers who were cheering you on. It was hard not to feel inspired and excited.
During the Fight For Air Climb
One-by-one people took off up toward the top of the US Bank Center to begin their Fight For Air Climb. I, like most, started off confidently and quickly. I took the first six flights easily, but then by flight eight, I began to fight for air. I now understand why they title this climb just that. My mind and my body were at odds. I couldn’t decide whether I wanted to continue at the same pace to get it over with as quickly as possible or to slow down and feel better. I went with the former.
Everyone in the stairwell was trudging onward with the same dilemma. We all were gasping for air as we kept pushing up each step and each flight toward the top of the Fight For Air Climb. At several points, I wondered if I was actually making any progress.
Every 10 flights there was a group of volunteers handing out cups of water and words of encouragement. Both were sorely needed to help push me along.
With each passing flight, I kept a tally of how many flights I had left. Twenty flights down, 27 more flights to go; 30 flights down, 17 flights to go; Ok, 40 flights down, 7 to go. By the time I got to the 40th floor, I knew I could make the last push to make it to the top of my Fight For Air Climb journey.
After the Fight For Air Climb
Eventually, I reached the top after 9 minutes and 31 seconds. At the top of the stairwell, I was met by volunteers who were cheering me on and by other climbers who were also catching their breath and taking in the picturesque views of Milwaukee and Lake Michigan afforded to us by the tallest building in Wisconsin.
As I grabbed a water and walked around soaking in both the views of the city and my accomplishment, it was really cool to watch teams taking pictures together or greeting other climbers with high-fives and smiles. There was a certain camaraderie found in a common struggle.
Despite the lingering soreness, I cannot wait for next year’s climb. No matter if I beat my time from this year or not, it’s about fighting for air together and helping those impacted with lung disease.
“What can you do or say when your family is suffering such losses? It’s devastating,” said Christopher Ciongoli, HVAC salesman/estimator with Aprilaire partner Whalen & Ives.
Chris is participating in the NYC American Lung Association Fight For Air Climb on April 4, 2020. When he heard that Aprilaire was the national Healthy Air sponsor of the event he signed on to the Aprilaire team.
“An opportunity to make difference just appeared to me on Jan 10th in an email from Aprilaire informing me about the Fight for Air Climb. This was it. This is how I would help make a difference and support my wife as well as so many others that are impacted by lung disease”.
Lung disease became an all too familiar fixture in Chris’s life last year when his brother-in-law, mother-in-law, and father-in-law all died from lung disease.
As of February 7, he’s raised 90 percent of his fundraising goal. Not only is Chris excited to help raise funds and awareness, he told us he’s already reaping the benefits of training for the 849-step climb.
“My blood pressure has dropped, my pants are getting loose, and my dog Crosby is getting back in shape too!”
Every morning he goes out with dog Crosby and strengthens his legs and increases his stamina to make sure he can make it to the 44th floor of the 1290 Avenue of Americas building in New York City.
Read more of Chris’s incredible journey by going to his page. Thank you for your efforts, Chris and we cannot wait to hear more.
Flights May Be Less Comfortable With Recommendations
He argues that airlines should continue disinfecting high-touch areas such as armrests and tray tables, stop in-flight food service, mandate mask-wearing, and ask patrons to keep their above ventilation fan on throughout the flight. While these adjustments make flying less enjoyable, they can help reduce in-flight virus transmission. Masks are currently required on public transportation.
Allen is not the only one saying it is safe to resume flying.
‘Safer Than Eating At A Restaurant’
Linsey Marr, an engineering professor at Virginia Tech, in a CNN article writes, “When HEPA ventilation systems are running on a plane and everyone is masked, the risk of Covid-19 is greatly reduced and makes air travel on a big jet safer than eating at a restaurant.”
Activities Create Biggest Risks
She and Allen argue that the biggest risks in airline travel stem from activities like the pre-flight boarding process or when a flight is delayed and people are stuck on the plane. Marr, who has been wearing an air quality monitor when she travels, said CO2 levels are elevated during these aforementioned activities and are indicative of a lack of fresh air ventilation.
Marr told CNN that “A CO2 (carbon dioxide) level of 3,000 ppm means that for every breath I take in, about 7% of the air is other people’s exhaled breath…like drinking someone else’s backwash!”
The airport also presents other problems for travelers.