As many of you are aware, January is Radon awareness month. Here in upper Michigan, levels that require mitigation are found on 3-25% (depending on county) of homes professionally tested and levels vary throughout the UP.
The first question your customer might ask, is: should I do the testing myself? Here's a quote from the Michigan DEQ: "Testing can be done with a do-it-yourself kit that you send back to a laboratory for analysis, or you can hire a professional to test for you. If you are willing to read and follow instructions, a do-it-yourself kit may be adequate. However, if you're involved in a real estate transaction, you may wish to hire a professional tester."
Why would they say that? Several reasons really. First, a prosective home buyer is more likely to want an independant unbiased evaluation of all potential problems, including possible high concentrations of Radon gas, particularly in the living areas of the home.
Second, to get accurate results, there are specific steps that must be adheared to. The "condition of the home" before and during the testing is one of them. Also, depending on the testing method, there are ways of determining the potential for outside interference as well as radom error (internal and external). Trained professionals have ways of ensuring the accuracy (blank samples, calibration) and will run control tests where applicable, to verify precision.
Another potential concern with the "free" charcoal bags that you can get from the local health deparments is that the protocal for testing these "blue bags" appears to be more laxed, and the results questionable. I recently spoke with a home inspector who picked up a couple of these as he was out of his professional kits and was in a bind. When he noticed they had been expired for 6 months, he called the testing lab and they told him they would still run the test as there is a different protocal for those kits. In other words, since it's not for a rela estate transaction, accuracy is considered less important.
One more thing. homes are more closed up in winter months and tend to have the highest Radon levels. This is the time to get those homes tested.