Nov. 19, 2021

How Do I Choose Between Alpha Track and CRM Tests?

Choosing your residential radon test doesn't have to be tricky.

Radon testing can seem intimidating but once you've nailed down a few facts it doesn't have to be. If you've spent some time looking up radon or reading through this site you know that radon fluctuates daily and as such the long term average exposure should be considered when deciding whether or not to mitigate, not an increase in levels for a day or even a week. 

Residential testing overall falls into two categories: Alpha Track Tests and Digital Monitors. How to do you choose what's the best choice for you? Let's delve into some basics.

Alpha Track Tests:
Typically the most affordable of home testing options. These black hockey-puck like devices are single use monitors left in a single deployment location for the duration of the measurement. Once the measurement has been completed they are shipped to the manufacturer labratory for analysis. Once analyzed a PDF report is generated and provided by email with one number, the average radon concentration determined by the whole of the measurement period. 

Pros: Cost-effective, Easy to use, Accurate, Health Canada recognized device

Cons: Single-use, Unable to compare usage patterns (when radon peaks or dips due to weather or other conditions), Cannot be moved to other locations, Must send to laboratory for analysis

Digital Monitors:
Also known as Continuous Radon Monitors (CRM), these devices may have an LCD display or connect via bluetooth to provide radon concentration snapshots or cumulative readings. They are reusable, repositionable - either in the same home for diagnostic purposes, or, in other properties - and may have other built in features such as humidity monitoring, temperature, VOC and barometric pressure. Some models provide graphing for comparisons to weather patterns and home usage. Readings provided in as little as 10 minutes (*although we do not recommend basing mitigation decisions on so short a measurement - keep reading on our page for more info!) with updated weekly and long term averages provided to owner's device.

Pros: Easy to use, Accurate, Repositionable for diagnostics, No laboratory analysis required

Cons: Slightly more expensive, Not yet recognized by Health Canada as consumer grade monitors cannot be calibrated 

Note: Not all radon tests are created equal! If purchasing a test, ensure that it is from a reputable manufacturer, stored in proper conditions to maintain integrity of test and that there are no hidden costs such as laboratory analysis fees.

Either test type will provide you with an accurate measurement to assist in your decision on whether or not to mitigate. It is important to follow placement instructions and best testting practices. If you have questions feel free to reach out - our technicians are always happy to lend a hand!

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