Do Air Purifiers Remove Radon? (With Facts)

  • By: Irene
  • Date: December 29, 2021
  • Time to read: 8 min.

Did you know that radon gas cannot be seen, tasted, or smelled?

In fact, it can cause serious health issues in humans.

But, do air purifiers remove radon?

Do Air Purifiers Remove Radon

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

Air purifiers that have an activated carbon filter are designed to capture gases and can remove radon.However, air filtration should not be your only method for radon mitigation.

In this guide, I’ll be diving deeper into answering questions about air purifiers and radon gas, along with the best ways to avoid it in your home.

Let’s take a closer look..

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.

In order to trap radon gas in large enough quantities to make a dent in the total amount, air purifiers must have an activated carbon filter. 

What Is Radon Gas ; Its Risks?

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

This invisible element arises when radioactive metals like uranium, radium, or thorium break down into the 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 when it is 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, then the radon concentration climbs.

Radon gas cannot be seen, tasted, or smelled, but it can still cause health issues in humans. 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 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 it 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 either be done by a hired professional or by ordering a home test kit. 

Folks who go the do-it-yourself route should reach out to a certified radon service professional if the radon levels turn out to be high.

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

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

This helps make sure they stay up to date 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)

Radon mitigation systems

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 rate of airflow 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 types of modifications are called radon mitigation systems and there are several options 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%

Diagnostic Tests

Radon professionals may use a few different techniques to narrow down 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. 

Soil suction

Once the radon professional has determined the necessary 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 what is called slab-on-grade. 

The basic premise involves running one or more suction pipes through the beneath the house.

This can be done either through the foundation inside the home or along the outside of 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 type of house. 

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 literally a stop-gap measure. 

Research studies have shown that sealing by itself does not lower radon levels significantly or consistently. 

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.

House/room pressurization

House/room pressurization requires using a fan to route air from the 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 even 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, make sure all other ground-floor windows and doors are closed.

Doing otherwise could disrupt the air pressure and effectively render this mitigation technique pointless.

Natural ventilation

To that end, natural ventilation can also be used, but it is only recommended as a temporary measure. 

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

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 types of air purifiers use filtration systems that are essentially nets meant to catch basketballs while carbon filters can hold small molecules like water.

Do Air Purifiers Help With Radon

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, other allergens—and not gases, so these are not a long-term solution.

Additionally, air filtration and ventilation work best when you already know precisely where the radon is entering 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 as well as odors. 

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

How Can I Test My Home For Radon?

Radon testing can be performed by a professional or by a homeowner using a radon detection kit.

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

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

Once the kit has been able to collect 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 such as Amazon. Click To See On Amazon

How Much Does It Cost To Fix Radon?

The average cost of fixing a home, specifically, is $1200 and ranges from $800 to $2500.

The total cost varies depending upon the size and construction of the home. 

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

Conclusion – Do Air Purifiers Help With Radon

Air purifiers can certainly help with radon if and only if they use filters made from activated carbon.

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 in taking radon.

All other types of air filtration systems are made for trapping particles and not gases. 

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

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