Buying an air purifier for radon

Radon, one of the world’s major causes of lung cancer, is responsible for upwards of 14% of all cases of lung cancer1. Exposure of any duration poses a health risk. What, exactly, is radon? Where is it found? Can an air purifier for radon help protect you from its dangers? Read on to learn more.

Danger radon symbol

All about radon

What is radon?

Radon is a radioactive noble gas. It is released naturally from soil, rocks, and water.

Where does radon come from?

Odourless and colourless, radon comes from the decay of uranium and radium and produces radioactive elements (alpha and beta radioactive isotopes from radon gas) as a result. These isotopes, also referred to as ‘radon daughters’ or ‘radon progeny’, combine with airborne pollutants like dust and aerosols. This makes it easy for radioactive gas and particles to gain entry into the human respiratory system once inhaled. This is especially true given their small size - radon particles typically measure between 0.5 to 300 nm. Once these radioactive particles begin decaying inside the body, they become a source of radiological exposure.

Radon is naturally-occurring and comes from the soil (it is found in the Earth’s crust), water, natural gas, and building materials. Certain locations have higher concentrations of radon present in the soil due to geological formations and atmospheric conditions1. Outdoor radon concentrations are low, meaning that most of human exposure to radon occurs indoors (via concrete ground or basement floors, from the soil through cracks in foundation, walls, connection joints, etc)2.

Main sources of radon

Source 3

Is radon dangerous?

There is no safe level of radon. Radon is the main source of natural radiation to which humans are exposed, responsible for around 40% of all human radiation1.

The World Health Organization places radon as second on the list of the most dangerous carcinogens. It accounts for 3 to 14% of all human lung cancers, higher in places with a more significant population of smokers since smoking and radon exposure work synergistically4. The Environmental Protection Agency declares radon as the number one cause of lung cancer amongst non-smokers5.

Factors that increase lung cancer risk from radon include:

  • High radon levels in your home, building, or part of the home or building where you spend the most time
  • Smoking cigarettes
  • Burning wood or coal that emit fine particles into your indoor air6

As we spend more and more time in our homes (it is estimated that humans spend 90% of their time indoors), this increases our indoor radon exposure. Unfortunately, there are no immediate health effects from indoor radon exposure. Inhaling radioactive radon particles leads to these particles accumulating in the lungs, ultimately damaging cell DNA in the cells lining your airways. The impact of indoor radon exposure may only become a problem years later.

How to make a house safe from radon gas?

Testing for radon

The only way to ensure, control, and maintain safe levels of radon in your home or building is to perform radon testing. Radon test kits are easy to find online or at your local hardware store. Perform the test in the lowest-level room of your indoor space, like a basement or bedroom, where you spend the most of your time. Keep windows and doors closed for 12 hours prior to and during testing. Avoid testing during periods of extreme weather events.

If the test kit indicates high radon levels in your home or building, it is important to employ a professional to perform repairs as it is highly specialised work.

A radon test kit

Source 7

Natural and mechanical ventilation

Ventilation, both natural and mechanical, is always recommended for air pollution control in an indoor space. Natural ventilation involves increasing airflow in your home or building by opening windows and doors. Mechanical ventilation includes using fans and vents to encourage air circulation. Studies have shown that opening a window for one hour per day reduces indoor radon concentrations and radiation hazards by 67%2.

Unfortunately, ventilation may not be possible in your space for multiple reasons. Natural ventilation is heavily dependent upon the outdoor climate. High levels of outdoor air pollution, extreme temperatures (in winter and/or summer), and/or security concerns may all pose deterrents from leaving windows and doors open.

Buying an air purifier for radon and basements

Although they make an excellent supplement to existing radon mitigation methods in your indoor space, air purifiers should never be used as the only method of reducing radon levels in an indoor space. Radon source control should be used first and foremost.

However, a 2021 study found that a high-quality air purifier effectively reduces concentrations of attached radon decay products (DaRn) and unattached radon decay products (DuRn)8. Radon decay products, electrostatic in nature, become attached to aerosols present in the air. Aerosols bound to radon decay products then emit radiation when inhaled. Another study determined that high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) air purifiers reduce radon radiation concentrations by 40 to 60%2.

How to choose the best air purifier for radon removal?

HEPA air purifiers

As mentioned above, studies show that HEPA air purifiers are extremely effective for controlling radon radiation concentrations. HEPA filters are guaranteed to remove 99.97% of all air pollutants down to 0.01 microns in a single pass. Eoleaf’s devices all come equipped with medical-grade HEPA H13 filters, meaning that they fight even the smallest of air pollutants.

Activated carbon filters

Activated carbon filters have been shown as one of the most effective anti-radon strategies in radon control, radon prevention, and the removal of airborne radon gases and particles from indoor air. Using charcoal (carbon) as a radon mitigation method has been described as ‘cost-effective and easy-to-handle’ based on a 2021 study. The study found that using charcoal-based methods may help reduce indoor radon concentrations by up to 94%9.

All of Eoleaf’s devices come with activated carbon filters as part of its 8-step air filtration method.

Clean Air Delivery Rate (CADR) and the size of the room you wish to treat

Seeking out an air purifier with the highest possible Clean Air Delivery Rate (CADR) is essential. CADR considers both airflow and efficiency at removing air pollutants. The higher the CADR, the better! That said, when considering CADR, it is crucial to keep in mind the size of the room you wish to treat. Air purifiers are sized to properly filter the air in a room of a maximum size. Find the ideal room sizes for each of Eoleaf’s devices and their respective CADRs below:

Filter life and replacement frequency/cost

This is a factor that varies drastically between air purifier brands and models. One thing must be made clear: replacing filters in an air purifier at regular intervals is essential to both your health and regular maintenance of the device.

Some devices offer one filter, some offer multiple filters, each of which require changing. Some Dyson air purifiers, for example, require changing of both their HEPA filters and activated carbon filters multiple times per year. This, unfortunately, is an indication of a lower-quality filter. This can really add up in terms of budget and maintenance costs!

Eoleaf air purifiers, on the other hand, only require changing one filter block (despite having 8 different technologies contained within), once per year.

Let Eoleaf help you combat radon in your indoor spaces

We are here to help you in your efforts to rid your home of airborne pollutants whether that be radon, fine particles from smoke or pollen, allergens (dust, dust mites, mould and its spores, pet hair and dander), viruses and bacteria, or chemical pollution (volatile organic compounds or VOCs). Do not hesitate to reach out to our team of air pollution experts anytime or refer to our in-depth Buying Guide for more information on choosing the best air purifier for your needs.

A woman sitting on her laptop next to Eoleaf's AEROPRO 40 air purifier

Frequently asked questions (FAQs)

Can an air purifier effectively remove radon gas from indoor air?

According to some above-mentioned studies8,9, air purifiers may remove anywhere from 40 to 60% of airborne radon in your indoor spaces. Note that treatment of radon at the source is always recommended above any other form of mitigation, but air purifiers make an excellent supplement.

What types of air purifiers are recommended for radon removal?

Air purifiers containing HEPA (high-efficiency particulate air)-certified filters and activated carbon filters are best recommended for radon removal. These filter types are the only two that have been tested on radon.

Can air purifiers alone eliminate the need for other radon mitigation measures?

No. Though they make an excellent supplement to your radon mitigation measures, do not rely solely on an air purifier for eliminating radon from your home or office building. We always recommend treating radon at the source and hiring a professional to do so.

What is the recommended placement of air purifiers for radon removal?

The best place for an air purifier for radon removal is as close to the radon source as possible. This means the lowest, lived-in location in your home like a basement or bedroom. Be sure not to place it where it will be blocked by obstacles like furniture or corners, and avoid placing it anywhere with a high humidity level.

What is the coverage area of air purifiers for radon, and how many units may be needed in a home?

This varies from device to device. Eoleaf offers three different sizes of air purifier: AEROPRO 40 for rooms from 0 to 40 m2, AEROPRO 100 for rooms from 0 to 80 m2, and AEROPRO 150 for rooms from 0 to 120 m2. It is essential to purchase an air purifier properly sized for your room’s volume.

Can air purifiers for radon be used in both residential and commercial settings?

Absolutely! Eoleaf air purifiers are designed to fight air pollution in spaces of all sizes. For residential spaces, we typically recommend our AEROPRO 40 and AEROPRO 100 air purifiers. For commercial spaces, the AEROPRO 150 is our professional model designed to filter the air in indoor spaces of a larger size.

Are there any ongoing maintenance requirements for air purifiers used for radon mitigation?

All air purifiers require regular filter changes. This is absolutely crucial in the proper maintenance of your device. Eoleaf devices only require changing one filter block once per year.


Resources

1 Grzywa-Celińska A, Krusiński A, Mazur J, Szewczyk K, Kozak K. Radon-The Element of Risk. The Impact of Radon Exposure on Human Health. Toxics. 2020 Dec 14;8(4):120. doi: 10.3390/toxics8040120. PMID: 33327615; PMCID: PMC7765099.

2 Wang, C., Liu, J., Yu, C. W., & Xie, D. (2022). Numerical Analysis for the optimization of multi-parameters stratum ventilation and the effect on radon dispersion. Journal of Building Engineering, 62, 105375. doi:10.1016/j.jobe.2022.105375

3 What is radon?. UKradon. (n.d.). https://www.ukradon.org/information/whatisradon

4 World Health Organization. (2023, January 25). Radon. World Health Organization. https://www.who.int/en/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/radon-and-health

5 Environmental Protection Agency. (2024, January 9). Health Risk of Radon. EPA. https://www.epa.gov/radon/health-risk-radon

6 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2023, December 21). Get the Facts on Radon. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/radon/radon-facts.html

7 10 Day radon test kit: Order for Quick Radon Test results. PropertECO Radon Test Kits & Mitigation Equipment. (2024). https://www.radonshop.co.uk/10-day-radon-screening-test-kit-2-detectors-12-p.asp

8 Yanchao S, Bing S, Hongxing C, Yunyun W. Study on the effect of air purifier for reducing indoor radon exposure. Appl Radiat Isot. 2021 Jul;173:109706. doi: 10.1016/j.apradiso.2021.109706. Epub 2021 Apr 7. PMID: 33862311.

9 Maier A, Jones J, Sternkopf S, Friedrich E, Fournier C, Kraft G. Radon Adsorption in Charcoal. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2021 Apr 22;18(9):4454. doi: 10.3390/ijerph18094454. PMID: 33922246; PMCID: PMC8122700.

Eoleaf's range of air purifiers

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