Do Air Purifiers Remove Radon? (The Truth Behind The Hype)

  • Author: Irene Batres
  • Date: February 20, 2023
  • Time to read: 8 min.
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Hey! You know how radon gas is a sneaky little bugger?

It’s everywhere in homes; one out of every 15 has it. But the thing is, you can’t see, taste, or smell it. So having your home tested for it is a big deal.

But here’s the million-dollar question: can air purifiers eliminate radon?

I decided to look into it, and here’s what I learned:

You can filter radon out using an Air purifier with activated carbon filters. They are designed to capture gases and remove radon. However, air filtration should not be your only method for radon mitigation.

In this guide, I’ll dive deeper into answering questions about whether radon can be filtered out of the air and how to eliminate radon in-house.

Do Air Purifiers Remove Radon?

Whether a model is capable depends upon if it is designed to remove particles or gases from the air. 

Most air purifiers are created to capture particles in the air, like dust or dander, that often cause allergies. 

Trapping pollen is very different from trapping a gas, though.

Air purifiers must have an activated carbon filter to trap radon gas in large enough quantities to dent the total amount. 

If you are wondering if there is an air purifier that removes radon?

Then I suggest you check out these five air purifiers that remove radon gas, I reviewed them and found the top 5 air purifiers that are the most effective.

What Is Radon Gas; Its Risks?

Radon is a radioactive gas naturally present in trace amounts within Earth’s atmosphere. 

This invisible element arises when radioactive metals like uranium, radium, or thorium break into rock, soil, and groundwater.

That means that radon is in the very dirt we walk on.  

There’s no need to panic, though. Radon naturally dissipates outdoors, so it usually is not a health risk outdoors. 

However, it can become dangerous if it builds up inside a building.

Radon gas can become trapped within buildings after it seeps through cracks and crannies in the foundations.

That’s why most radon exposure happens inside homes, schools, and workplaces. 

Unlike the radon we tread on each day we walk outside, the gas within the buildings expands to fill the enclosed space. 

When the rate or amount of radon coming through the cracks overtakes the rate it can dissipate, the radon concentration climbs.

Radon gas cannot be seen, tasted, or smelled but can still cause human health issues. The most serious of these is lung cancer.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), breathing in radon is estimated to be the second leading cause of lung cancer in the United States.

It may be hard to believe that inhaling an invisible gas you can’t even taste could cause cancer, but radon is responsible for over 20,000 lung cancer deaths each year. 

The good news is that radon is only potentially a problem indoors and can be controlled and prevented nowadays. 

How Do I Reduce Radon In My Home?

Similar to carbon monoxide, radon gas has no odor and is colorless.

The only way to determine the radon levels in your home, school, or workspace is to test them. 

This can be done by a hired professional or by ordering a home test kit. 

Folks who go the do-it-yourself route should contact a certified radon service professional if the radon levels are high.

You can find a certified professional by checking with your state radon office. 

Many states require radon professionals to maintain some license, certificate, or registration. 

This helps them stay current on appropriate radon tools, processes, and research updates.

Folks in states that lack these requirements can contact private radon proficiency programs for lists of certified professionals.

Follow EPA guidelines to assess your radon levels. They recommend the levels be mitigated if they are at or above 148 Bq/m3 (4 pCi/L)

1. Passive Radon Mitigation System

Remember that gas typically expands to fill the container holding it. 

That’s what causes the radon buildup problem to begin with. 

With that in mind, it makes sense that radon-density problems are usually fixed by changing the airflow rate in the building. 

Underground ventilation systems are often installed to make this adjustment that allows the radon to dissipate rather than continue packing the room.

These modifications are called radon mitigation systems, and several options are available to folks dealing with radon gas.

Radon mitigation systems are also known as radon reduction techniques. Some of them can reduce radon levels within a building by 99%

2. Diagnostic Tests

Radon professionals may use different techniques to determine which mitigation test is right for each unique situation. 

Sometimes the solution is as simple as sealing a few cracks.

  • One of the most common diagnostic tools is chemical smoke. This compound is introduced to cracks or holes in the foundation to make air flow routes visible. These indicate potential radon routes since radon gas goes where the air flows. 
  • Soil communication tests use the chemical smoke in combination with a vacuum cleaner to tell how easily the air flows between two points beneath the foundation. 

Contractors insert the vacuum hose in one hole and the chemical smoke in another. 

This tells them whether the airflow allows the smoke to be pulled across the underpart of the home with just the vacuum cleaner’s suction. 

3. Soil suction

Once the radon professional has determined the critical approach to your specific circumstances, soil suction techniques are commonly utilized. 

There are several different types, and their use varies based on the type of foundation the house was built upon.

This includes whether the home has a basement, crawl space, or slab-on-grade. 

The basic premise involves running one or more suction pipes beneath the house. This can be done through the foundation inside or outside the house.

One end of each pipe is inserted into the soil or rock. The other is connected to a suction pipe that draws the gas out from below the house like a drink through a straw. 

Other types of radon mitigation methods can be used in any house. 

4. Sealing

Sealing fractures and holes in the foundation is one of the most basic steps in radon reduction. 

This is a good first step towards radon-proofing the home, but it is quite a stop-gap measure. 

Research studies have shown that sealing does not significantly or consistently lower radon levels. It works best when used in combination with additional methods.

Sealing does reduce the loss of conditioned air, though, so it is still a solid move in addressing the big-picture issues associated with radon gas build-up.

5. House/room pressurization

House/room pressurization requires using a fan to route air from upstairs or outdoors to the areas where the radon gas comes through. 

It may initially seem that the fan is being used to disperse the gas.

However, the real goal is to prevent radon from entering the home through those gaps by pushing the gas back to the ground using air pressure from the fan.

This method has a trade-off when it comes to moisture content and energy consumption that come with bringing mass amounts of outdoor air inside.

Also, since this is about pressurization rather than just the presence, or the amount of outdoor air, ensure all other ground-floor windows and doors are closed. Doing otherwise could disrupt the air pressure and render this mitigation technique pointless.

6. Natural Ventilation

To that end, natural ventilation can also be used, but it is only recommended temporarily. 

While opening the ground floor windows and doors helps promote outdoor airflow, it also comes with moisture, discomfort, and economic and security concerns.

Additionally, radon concentrations tend to return to their previous higher values within 12 hours of all windows and doors being closed. 

7. Air Purifier With Activated Carbon Filter

While most air filtration systems are meant to capture solid particles, activated carbon filters are designed to capture gases. 

This makes them the ideal type for handling radon.

To put it in context, other air purifiers use filtration systems that are essentially nets meant to catch basketballs, while carbon filters can hold small molecules like water.

Can Radon Be Filtered Out Of Air?

Radon particles can essentially ride around on other particles. 

When they do so, HEPA filter air purifier systems can capture the radon by capturing the horse it rode in on.

However, HEPA filters are still meant for particles—dust, pollen, and other allergens—and not gases, so these are not a long-term solution.

Additionally, air filtration and ventilation work best when you know precisely where the radon enters the house.

Technically, the answer to this question is yes, but not to the degree that air filtration should be your only method for radon mitigation. 

If an air filter is your aim, you also want to make sure to get one with activated carbon.

Does Activated Carbon Remove Radon From The Air?

Carbon-activated filters are partly made of porous carbon that helps trap gases and odors. 

The activated carbon component helps these air purifiers remove gaseous radon from your home. 

How Can I Test My Home For Radon?

A Radon test can be a great option if you have radon issues. A radon test can be performed by a professional or homeowner using a radon detection kit.

These radon test kits can be purchased online or at local hardware stores. 

Most work by setting the kit in the house for certain days specified in the product instructions. 

Once the kit has collected enough data, you can mail it to a lab for analysis. 

When results are available, the company should let you know either way so you can proceed accordingly.

Products available range in price from $13 to $230 online at retailers like Amazon. Click To See On Amazon

How Much Does It Cost To Fix Radon?

The average cost of fixing a home is $1200 and ranges from $800 to $2500.The total cost varies depending on the size and construction of the home. 

These factors can also influence which radon reduction methods are required. 

Does Opening Windows Reduce Radon?

Opening up your windows can help lower your home’s radon levels. It allows the windows to bring in fresh, radon-free air from outside. (1.)(2.)

Plus, the fresh air will also improve air circulation and ventilation. However, keep in mind that this is only a temporary solution. Radon is not a gas that will leave your home.

Conclusion – Do Air Purifiers Help With Radon

If you want to remove radon from your home, an air purifier can help with radon if only using activated carbon filters.

Radon enters our respiratory system intermixed with minute dust particles when we usually breathe. 

If the air we breathe can be purified before we inhale it, we remove the risk of taking radon.

All other air filtration systems are made for trapping particles, not gases. 

Since radon is a gas, carbon-activated filters are the way to go!

Looking For Air Purifier Guides?

If you’re looking for more air purifier resources, consider checking out our other posts on air purifiers.

irene mills author of freshairdevices

(Author)

Irene Batres is eager to help others create an indoor allergen-free home. She has years of experience testing out air purifiers, dehumidifiers, and other products designed to help with indoor air quality. Learn more about me.