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Testing Your Home for Radon


Did You Know?


RADON is the second leading cause of lung cancer after smoking.

RADON levels in your home can vary significantly from your neighbor's.

RADON can be found in homes with all types of construction, including slab-on-grade foundations, crawlspaces, and basements.

You can't see radon. And you can't smell it or taste it. But it may be a problem in your home. Radon is estimated to cause many thousands of deaths each year. That's because when you breathe air containing radon, you can get lung cancer. In fact, the Surgeon General has warned that radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer in the United States today. Only smoking causes more lung cancer deaths.

Should I Test My Home for Radon?

The U.S. Surgeon General recommends that all homes be tested for radon. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recommends taking a short-term test first that take from two to 90 days and allow for quick results.  If your short-term results come back between 4 and 8pCi/L, the EPA suggests following up with a long-term test to confirm your results.  Long-term tests run from 91 days to a year and can offer a more accurate measurement.  If your short-term results come back over 8 pCi/L, perform another short-term test to confirm the results.

RECOMMENDATION: If your test results are 4 pCi/L or higher, the EPA recommends that you take immediate measure to lower radon levels in your home.

Testing Your Home for Radon

To determine if you have high levels of radon in your home, you have a couple options:

  1. Hire a Radon Measurement Company to Test Your Home: Click here for a list of companies or individuals that provide radon measurement services to Oregon. Some companies have been certified by the National Environmental Health Association (NEHA) or the National Radon Safety Board (NRSB). This list should be used for informational purposes only and is not intended to be an endorsement by the Oregon Department of Human Services of any testing device or company. These organizations are not the only sources of radon testing devices or services. There may be additional companies listed in your local phone book under "Radon Testing".
  2. Perform a Radon Measurement Test Yourself: Radon detectors are inexpensive and easy to install. They are generally available in two types: alpha track detectors, which are used for long-term measurements, and charcoal canisters, which are used for short-term measurements. These devices are placed in living areas for a specific time period and then are sent to a laboratory for analysis. Before purchasing, verify that the radon detector meets the current requirements of the national certifying organizations such as the National Radon Safety Board (NRSB) or the National Environmental Health Association (NEHA) and is approved by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Where Can I Purchase Radon Detectors?

Link here for contact information and a list of measurement companies that can provide radon kits and/or perform radon measurement services in Oregon. You can also purchase a radon measurement test kit from your local hardward or home improvement stores.

The American Lung Association of Oregon provides test kits for a cost that includes shipping the test results to a laboratory and laboratory results being mailed back you. Click here to learn more. 

Please note that Portland Fire & Rescue does not have radon kits for purchase or donation.


What If the Test Reveals High Level of Radon?

The important thing is not to panic.  Radon levels can fluctuate widely over time.  Reducing radon levels in your home requires technical knowledge and skill, and typically involves hiring a radon mitigation contractor.

The most common approach to mitigating a radon problem is referred to as sub-slab depressurization or sub-slab suction. This technique draws radon-filled air from beneath the foundation through a pipe using a fan, and vents the radon outside. Sealing cracks and holes in the foundation makes this technique more effective.

Click here for a list of mitigation companies servicing Oregon that have been certified by NEHA or NRSB. Current listings of certified companies can also be found at their respective web sites, and

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May 27, 2010


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