What is a Radon Monitor?

Harriette Halepis

Radon is a color and odorless gas that is highly toxic. All homes should be tested for radon in order to ensure habitability. To detect radon, a radon monitor is used. Monitors can be purchased in two forms: passive and active. These two types of detectors are vastly different from one another, though they are both effective at discovering radon particles in the air.

Radon can work its way up through the floors and walls of a basement, or near the foundation.
Radon can work its way up through the floors and walls of a basement, or near the foundation.

Passive monitors do not use electricity. Instead, these monitors simply trap radon for later laboratory observation. There are various types of passive detectors including charcoal canisters, charcoal liquid scintillation detectors, alpha track detectors, and electret ion detectors. Each one of these detectors is effective, though they all attract radon particles in different ways.

Difficulty breathing is a symptom of radon poisoning.
Difficulty breathing is a symptom of radon poisoning.

Alpha track detectors are immediately marked by radon particles. These marks become apparent when an alpha detector is viewed in a laboratory setting. A charcoal radon monitor naturally attracts radon, causing the particles to stick to the charcoal. Electret monitors include a TeflonĀ® disc that has been statically charged. When radon attaches itself to this disk, the electric charge decreases. All of these devices must be sent to a laboratory for testing.

In contrast to passive radon detectors, active monitors only work via electricity. This type of radon monitor is plugged into an electrical outlet at all times. In order to read an active monitor, a specially trained technician must be available. Active detectors are harder to purchase than passive detectors, though they may be purchased directly from special laboratories.

Most homeowners will find that a passive radon monitor detects radon effectively. These devices can be purchased at most hardware stores, though electret monitors may be harder to find. Radon monitor usage is generally easy to do, and often detecting radon does not require any effort on the part of a homeowner. Simply read the manufacturer's instructions prior to using any kind of radon monitor.

It is recommended that anyone considering purchasing a home conduct a radon test. Radon is not hard to get rid of once it has been detected, but it is important that any traces of radon be eliminated. If radon has been found inside of a home, radon specialists can remove this gas through various methods. Radon that is not detected can lead to numerous types of medical complications including various respiratory diseases. If your home has never been tested for radon before, purchasing a radon monitor is a good idea.

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