Learning About Radon Mitigation with Your Child

Sunday, December 1st, 2013

Science is Fun
If you are thinking about testing your home for radon by using a do-it-yourself radon test kit, why not combine the testing process with a little science lesson for your child? This brief science experiment can introduce the scientific method by creating a theory, conducting a test and analyzing the results. It is appropriate for a curious child in third-grade or above.

Since we cannot see, smell, taste or touch radon, the only way we can measure it is by testing the air for radioactivity.

Radon is a naturally-occurring, odorless, colorless, tasteless and radioactive gas. It is formed as part of the breakdown of uranium and can be found in underground and surface rock throughout the world. As uranium deteriorates, it breaks down into radium, and then radon, which is a gas. When radon is released into the air outside, like in a yard or a park, the level of radioactivity is likely to be lower than if radon is released inside a closed house or apartment. Since we cannot see, smell, taste or touch radon, the only way we can measure it is by testing the air for radioactivity. Do-it-yourselftest kits can be purchased from licensed radon mitigation specialists or at home improvement stores. Next Step Environmental Services LLC can provide you with economical test kits which include a quick turn-around from a laboratory.

Test Procedure
You will need to purchase two short-term test kits, which will measure the level of radon in two locations.

First, your theory: The radon level inside your home will be higher than the radon level tested outside.

Materials: Two radon test kits, paper for taking notes.

Test: Read the directions for placement of the test kit. You and your junior scientist should look for the lowest livable level of the home, perhaps a basement, or the ground floor if the home is on a slab foundation. Place one of the test kits in that space, in a dry area where it is not likely to be moved or disturbed. Try to keep windows and doors closed and avoid placing the test kit near a fan. Once you have placed the kit, do not move it.

After placing the test kit inside, go outside the home and locate a safe, dry flat surface, above the ground, where you can place the second kit.

On your notepaper, write down the date, time and location for each test kit. Each kit will have a number for identification. Write that down too. Some kits will test for a period of two to four days. At the same time each day, check the location of each test kit to make sure the kits have not been disturbed. Make a note of your observations each day of the test, but do not touch the test kits. For the outside test kit, you may want to make a note about wind and weather.

At the end of the test period, enclose the kit in the packaging it came with and send it in for laboratory analysis. Save your notes. Radon Testing Kits from Next Step Environmental Services LLC utilize a reputable lab that provides a speedy analysis and results.

If your home tests near 4 pCi/L or above for radon, you should seek professional help from a certified radon mitigation specialist.

When you receive the results, sit down with your junior scientist and your notes, making sure that you match the test results with the correct kit. The test results are going to be expressed as a number, which represents parts of radioactivity per liter of air. Your theory is that the indoor kit will have the higher number. If the indoor test result is less than 4 pCi/L, that test result probably means that your home is not at a high risk of radon exposure. If the number for the indoor test is close to 4 or above, you may want to test indoors again, or seek professional help from a radon mitigation specialist. If the result is over 4, professional testing is advisable.

Was your theory correct?

Builders, homeowners and renters seeking more information on Radon Testing and Radon Mitigation should contact a certified radon specialist. Next Step Environmental Services LLC is an excellent resource for self-testing materials, professional inspections and effective and economical remediation. 

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