Monitoring Radon in the Connected Home

The technology that empowers the connected home has made our lives easier in many ways. Thanks to smart speakers, we can now set lighting and audio levels with voice commands. Our smart refrigerators tell us when we are low on milk and other items. When a visitor approaches our front door, we can see them and talk to them through smart security systems, even when we are hundreds of miles away.

While the majority of the devices that make up our connected homes make life easier or more efficient for us, some utilize smart technology to keep us safe from life-threatening intruders. A radon monitor is one of those devices. By constantly tracking and reporting radon levels in homes, radon monitors bring a new level of protection to the connected home.

What is radon gas?

Radium is a naturally occurring element that is found in small amounts in soil, water, and rocks. When radium breaks down, it releases radon — a colorless, odorless, and tasteless gas that is a leading cancer-causing agent. In fact, radon is considered the first leading cause of lung cancer among non-smokers.

Outdoors, radon exists at levels that do not pose health risks. However, when radon makes its way into homes through cracks or other holes in foundations, it can accumulate to dangerous levels. According to the US Environmental Protection Agency, 1 out of 15 homes in the US has elevated levels of radon.

Where are radon levels the highest?

No home is safe from the threat of radon. However, studies conducted by the US Department of Health and Human Services have identified several factors that can increase the levels of radon that are present. For example, homes in colder climates can often accumulate higher levels of radon because they are insulated to prevent interior air from escaping and exterior air from entering.

The source of water used for homes is another factor that has been identified as playing a role in radon levels. Because well water can be a source of radon, homes that rely on wells can accumulate higher levels of gas. In such cases, radon readings are often highest on the floors where bathrooms are located.

How is radon detected?

There are a variety of tools that can be used to detect and measure radon levels. The most basic devices passively sample air in a designated space over an extended period of time, often as long as a few months. Once a sample is collected, these devices are analyzed in a lab environment to assess radon levels.

Modern radon monitors bring smart technology to the process of testing for radon gas. These active monitors continuously measure radon levels in the air for as long as the device is running. They provide real-time measurements that can alert users to radon dangers after only a few minutes of operations. They also enable homeowners to keep track of fluctuating radon levels over a long period, which are especially noticeable during seasonal changes. In addition, they join other smart devices in the connected home by sending data over Wi-Fi to mobile apps that allow for remote tracking and notifications.

How are radon levels reduced?

Once elevated radon levels are detected, mitigation steps must be taken. Often, this will involve identifying and sealing the cracks or other openings that could allow radon into homes. Another response involves installing exhaust systems that force radon to leave the home. Regardless of the measures taken, active radon monitors should be used throughout the process to track radon levels and ensure that they are decreasing to levels generally accepted as safe.

Why is radon monitoring more important than ever?

Connected technologies, and the comforts that they deliver, have inspired us to spend more time than ever indoors. A 2018 study revealed that we have become an “Indoor Generation” that spends as much as 90 percent of our time inside — be it in our homes or other buildings. 

The COVID-19 pandemic has only increased that number, driving us to spend even more time at home as we have shifted to remote work and home-based schooling. As a result, the air in our homes is the air that we breathe the majority of the time. Monitoring air quality to make sure that it is free from cancer-causing agents, like radon gas, is more important than ever. Thankfully, smart technology makes monitoring for radon easier than ever.

Insoo Park is CEO of Ecosense Inc., an innovator in the radon gas monitoring industry providing people peace of mind through its intelligent and highly accurate radon detectors for homes, educational campuses, assisted living centers, community centers, and commercial buildings. The company’s smart real-time radon detectors utilize a patented ion chamber detection technology with high-accuracy performance capable of delivering the first radon result in minutes not days.

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