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Whether it’s entering a structure through the foundation or through the water supply, you can easily detect radon and monitor using two different testing methods. The most commonly used method is passive radon monitoring. Passive monitors are placed in an area of a structure for a set period of time and then sealed and sent into a laboratory for analysis after the detection period has expired.


There are two types of passive radon tests: short-term and long-term. Because no special training is required to perform these tests, they can easily be conducted by property owners. Radon test kits are available at most local hardware and home improvement stores as well through online retailers. These test kits are generally quite economical to use. For those who would rather not do the testing themselves, the EPA suggests contacting a qualified tester through the Illinois Emergency Management Association.


Short-term tests are the quickest way to passively detect radon in a structure. In a short-term test, the sample media is placed in the test area for anywhere from two to 90 days before being sent into a laboratory for analysis. The laboratory then mails the test results back to the kit owner.

Because radon levels tend to vary from day-to -day and season-to-season, short-term test results may not be indicative of a structure’s actual year-round radon level. To obtain a more accurate idea of year-round levels, long-term radon kits are used.


Long-term test kits are placed in a structure for more than 90 days to detect radon. This duration of exposure compensates for the daily radon fluctuations that can occur, providing a more realistic measurement of year-round radon levels.

To help property owners implement an effective passive radon monitoring program, the EPA has established the following guidelines:

Step 1. Take a short-term test. If your result is 4 pCi/L or higher take a follow-up test (step 2) to be sure.

Step 2. Follow up with either a long-term test or a second short-term test.

         For a better understanding of your year-round average radon level take a long-term test

         If you need quick results, take a second short-term test

The higher your initial short-term test result, the more certain you can be that you should take a short-term rather than a long-term follow up test. If your first short-term test is more than twice the EPA’s 4 pCi/L action level, you should take a second short-term test immediately.

Step 3. Fix your home if your long-term test result is 4 pCi/L or more. 

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