Do you have radon in your home? In Canada, the answer is going to be yes. The question isn’t whether your home has radon or not, it’s whether the colourless, odourless, radioactive gas is present in dangerous levels. November is National Radon Awareness Month, and the reason for the timing is pretty Canadian: with the cold winter on its way, homes that have been sealed to keep cold air out also keep radon in. Now is the time to find out if your home is affected by elevated radon levels, and if so, to take action to prevent this from causing health problems, including an increased risk for lung cancer. Just in time for National Radon Awareness Month, Airthings has a series of new devices that let you accurately measure and track your home’s radon levels.
The 2018 Best Buy blogging team’s radon detection project
Last year I reviewed the Airthings Wave Smart Radon Detector with the assistance of my fellow Best Buy Blog editors. We each set up the Wave radon detector in our homes and took readings. With locations spread across Canada and homes that ranged in age and style, there was a real variation in results. My lower basement scored the worst of all, with a measurement of 190 Bq/m3. What was interesting is that the upper basement (which is still three quarters below grade, but equipped with multiple windows) saw the radon levels drop to 59 Bq/m3.
Clearly, having less soil against the walls, and the Windows providing more opportunity for air to leach out, has a significant effect on radon levels.
Both readings were within Health Canada’s recommended under 200 Bq/m3 level, but I had no idea radon levels were even an issue, let alone as high as they were in my basement. That’s the value of detectors like the Airthings Wave. No need to have an independent lab come in every time you want a reading, you just check the monitor—or your smartphone—for a real time reading.
The original Wave has since been updated with the Wave 2, but Airthings also released a trio of new products in 2019 that are also worth looking at if you’re interested in the indoor air quality of your home.
Airthings Corentium Home Digital Radon Monitor
This is an interesting one. It looks nothing like the Wave, and it’s not connected to your smartphone.
Instead, the Airthings Corentium Home is designed more like a traditional, portable detector. Frankly, it looks like something from a few decades ago—and that’s intentional. Powered by three AAA batteries (included), it has a built-in LCD display that shows the current radon gas levels (within 24 hours of being placed), along with long-term average levels. It can be set on a flat surface or hung on the wall, and the batteries last for two-years.
There’s no setup, no account required, and no flashy LEDs—simply insert the batteries, place it, and wait. If you want to check and accurately monitor the radon levels in your home with no fuss, the Airthings Corentium Home was made for you.
Airthings Wave Mini Indoor Air Quality Detector
Next up is the Airthings Wave Mini Indoor Air Quality Monitor. This one doesn’t measure radon, but it does monitor other important components of air quality: humidity, air temperature, and TVOC. The first two are easy, but what is TVOC? This is an acronym for Total Volatile Organic Compounds, chemicals, and gasses released into the air by a wide variety of sources, including cooking, furniture, carpet, candles, cleaning products, and paint. Short term effects of elevated TVOC levels include symptoms like headaches and eye or throat irritation, but long term exposure has the potential to have more serious consequences, including kidney and liver damage.
I’ve evaluated a number of similar monitors, but the Airthings Wave Mini stands out for its compact size and user friendly design. Just wave your hand in front to get a simple LED reading of the total air quality in a room: green for good, yellow for average, and red if it’s poor.
The Wave Mini runs on three AA batteries (included), and it can be wall mounted using its magnetic plate or set upright with an included stand. It connects to your smartphone via Bluetooth, and from there you can use the Airthings Wave App for detailed information, including individual readings for humidity, air temperature, and TVOC, along with historical data.
Finally, there is the new Airthings Wave Plus. This looks very much like the familiar Wave, and it is a smart radon detector. The “plus” is additional sensors that also measure carbon dioxide, airborne chemicals (TVOCs), humidity, temperature, and air pressure.
In other words, virtually every factor that affects the air you breathe on a daily basis is accurately measured and tracked.
This one is a CES 2019 Innovation Award honoree. Bluetooth connectivity to your smartphone is powered by a pair of AA batteries (included) that should last 16 months. The data is displayed on a dashboard that shows readings for each of the variables, and you can access data plotted for the past week, month, or year to look for trends. Like the Wave and Wave Mini, you can also wave your hand in front of the Wave Plus to get a visual indicator of overall air quality via a green, yellow, or red LED ring.
Investing in your health
It is easier to make the case for a smoke detector or a carbon monoxide detector, because those alert you to an immediate life-threatening condition. Air quality and radon can be dangerous, but the primary risk is with long-term exposure. A detector and monitor, like the Airthings Wave Plus, is an investment in your health. It provides an immediate visual indicator of the air quality in your home, but because it’s constantly taking measurements (and the app is tracking that data), you get very useful trend information that can be invaluable in troubleshooting. For example, if your CO2 levels increase whenever the furnace fires up, that’s a pretty good indicator that the furnace needs servicing.
And if there are parts of your home with elevated radon levels, you can take measures to limit exposure in the short term and address the problem in the long term.
Best Buy has a comprehensive selection of smart home sensors and detectors to protect you and your family, including security alarms, smoke detectors, carbon monoxide detectors, water leak sensors, air quality monitors—and radon detectors.