Best Radon Test Kits
Radon is a naturally occurring radioactive element found in soil and rocks. It is present at levels ranging from very low (0.1 parts per million) up to thousands of times higher than normal background radiation levels (10 rem).
The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), part of the U.S. Department of Labor, defines radon as “a chemical element with atomic number 87 and one neutron.” 
Radium is a rare earth metal which occurs only in two places: China and North America. There are approximately 1 billion pounds of radium ore reserves worldwide. About 20% of these are located in Canada. Most of the rest is found in Russia, Australia, Mongolia, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan.
In Canada, radium is mined primarily in Saskatchewan, Alberta and Montana. The ore is extracted by blasting or underground mining methods. The radium ore is then processed into a variety of products including radiocarbon dating, medical diagnostic devices and industrial uses such as welding irons.
Radium is a silvery-white metal, but it will burn and turn black when exposed to air. It has a half life of approximately 1,600 years and decays into radon gas. Its most stable isotope, 226Ra (with a half life of 1,600 years), decays into the gas radon (which is one of the least dense gases). The most common isotope, 224Ra (with a half life of about 2.6 years), decays into other elements until it reaches lead.
Radium is very similar to barium and is found in the same minerals, including barite, pitchblende (a mineral that contains uranium and other metals such as silver), fluorspar (a mineral that contains fluorine and calcium) and baryta (barium is also called baryta).
The primary use of radium in America has been for the treatment of cancer with radiation therapy. In cancer treatment, the patient is given a controlled amount of radium, and the affected area is targeted with radiation. This destroys the diseased cells.
The main hazard from exposure to radium is getting a burn on the skin from direct contact with it. It can also be inhaled or ingested if it is in powder form (such as with the ingestion of radium water). If ingested, it will quickly burn and destroy the esophagus and stomach.
How is it used in consumer products?
We do not use radium or its compounds in any consumer products. All of our radium-226 calibration sources are made for us at one of three national or international labs. Consumers would never come into direct contact with them.
How can I tell if I have a product that contains radium?
The word radium or a symbol representing it, such as Ra, would appear somewhere on a package with the product. You would also be able to identify it by its radioactivity. It glows in the dark under the effects of a black light; its activity can be detected using an electronic geiger counter; and it can damage photographic film and cause burns if it is handled without proper safety precautions.
Is all radium the same?
No. There are different forms of radium, such as radium-226 and radium-228. These different types of radium decay at different rates and have different isotopes. Each form of radium has its own specific uses in the medical and industrial fields.
Why is it sometimes found in paint products?
Radium was used in the production of luminous paints for watch, clock and instrument dials, and aircraft instrument panels throughout the first half of the 20th Century.
Radium is no longer used in paint because the goal of these dials was to make them visible in the dark. However, they are still popular collectibles. If you find one, don’t lick it to see if it will glow in the dark. It probably does not contain radium and licking it would be a health hazard.
Is the current US limit for radium in paint set at 0.1 microcuries of
Ra-226 per gram of dry paint?
No. The current limit is much lower than that, at 0.44 nanocuries of Ra-226 per gram of dry paint. A nanocurie is equal to one billionth of a curie.
Why was this stricter limit imposed?
Sources & references used in this article:
Communicating the risk from radon by A Fisher, GH McClelland, WD Schulze… – Journal of the Air & …, 1991 – Taylor & Francis
Predictors of home radon testing and implications for testing promotion programs by PM Sandman, ND Weinstein – Health education quarterly, 1993 – journals.sagepub.com
Dual home screening and tailored environmental feedback to reduce radon and secondhand smoke: An exploratory study by EJ Hahn, MK Rayens, SE Kercsmar, SM Adkins… – … of Environmental Health, 2014 – JSTOR
A randomized trial to test personalized environmental report back to reduce lung cancer risk by EJ Hahn, L Huntington-Moskos… – Health Education & …, 2019 – journals.sagepub.com
Perceived susceptibility and self-protective behavior: A field experiment to encourage home radon testing. by ND Weinstein, PM Sandman, NE Roberts – Health Psychology, 1991 – psycnet.apa.org
Determinants of self‐protective behavior: Home radon testing by ND Weinstein, PM Sandman… – Journal of Applied …, 1990 – Wiley Online Library
Relationship of perception of radon as a health risk and willingness to engage in radon testing and mitigation. by Minnesota Dept. of Health – 2004
A model of the precaution adoption process: evidence from home radon testing. by Minnesota Dept. of Health – 2011