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Originally appeared in Haverhill Life magazine, October 2017

Radon is a naturally occurring gas that is detected in every house. Radon gas comes from the natural breakdown of uranium in the earth. Radon gas is also present in well water.

Long-term exposure to radon has been linked to lung cancer, so it is recommended to determine the level of radon gas in your house. The EPA recommends remediating radon when the indoor-air level of radon is 4 picocuries per liter (pCi/L) or higher.

To measure radon in your home you can contact a radon testing professional or purchase a radon test kit at a hardware store. Two common methods for testing radon are liquid scintillation test vials, and radon continuous monitors.

At a hardware store, a radon vial test kit typically costs around $20 to purchase the kit, plus around $40 to develop or test the vials after you’ve conducted the test. Results for this type of test can take as long as 2 weeks.

A professional radon technician typically charges around $200 for a complete radon analysis, which includes dropping off and retrieving a radon continuous monitor or vials, as well as a personal home consultation. Monitor test results are usually available in two days from the test date.

If you are considering hiring a professional technician, be sure to ask about certification. Measurement provider certification is available to technicians through American Association of Radon Scientists and Technologists (AARST).

Certification is not currently required in MA, but it is required in NH. Radon remediation contractor certifications are also available.

If high levels of radon gas are detected in a home it is recommended to remediate the problem. A common method of remediation is “sub slab depressurization.”

This method involves installing a plastic pipe below the basement concrete to remove radon gas from the soil below the slab, and extending the pipe up through the roof of the house.

Remediation systems can cost less than $2,000 or as high at $6,000 depending on difficulty of installation and size of the home. If you suspect that you have a radon problem we recommend contacting a certified radon remediation professional for testing and remediation.