EcoQube named to TIME’s Best Inventions List of 2021
Insoo Park went years without giving much thought to radon. Though everyone is exposed to radon, many people go years without realizing their homes contain dangerous levels of this carcinogenic invisible gas. Park’s company, EcoSense, developed the EcoQube to alert consumers to this invisible danger. The EcoQube ranked among TIME’s list of 2021’s top 100 inventions, but unlike the other fun tech on the list, this real-time radon detector is saving lives.
What is radon gas?
Radon gas seeps out of the soil and rocks as uranium decays. Uranium is unstable, constantly releasing small amounts of radon and ionizing radiation into the environment. Radon gas is odorless, colorless, tasteless, and radioactive.
Radon exposure is the leading cause of lung cancer among nonsmokers and claims over 21,000 lives in the United States each year. Young children are more sensitive to the harmful effects of the gas, not because as children they develop lung cancer, but because cumulative effects are important and they have so much life ahead of them. Radon seeps silently into homes, schools, daycares, and offices. Fortunately, taking the initiative to become educated about this harmful gas enables people to prevent, control, and mitigate it.
Measuring radon levels with a radon detector
Radon gas is measured in picocuries per liter of air (pCi/L). One curie equals the radioactivity of 1 gram of radium. A picocurie equals a trillionth of a curie.
The most desirable level of radon gas would be zero, but even with the best ventilation, there may always be small trace amounts of radon. Outdoors, average levels of radon hover between 0.1 and 0.4 pCi/L. Radon gas tends to accumulate indoors due to indoor/outdoor temperature and pressure differential effects. The higher the level, the higher the health risk.
When radon levels reach 4.0 pCi/L, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) advises action. The EPA believes at least 15% of U.S. homes have radon exceeding this level. Furthermore, they estimate reducing levels below this amount would cut lung cancer deaths caused by radon in half.
Acceptable levels of radon vary by country. The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends levels lower than 2.7 pCi/L. The WHO also advises radon levels never exceed 8.0pCi/L.
The EcoQube sets new standards for delivering results that are fast and easy to understand
Traditionally, home inspectors or consumers tested a home’s radon level using plastic track detection chips or activated carbon packets. It was necessary to expose these to the environment for weeks before sending them to a lab for analysis. Today, the EcoQube is capable of measuring the presence of radon in minutes rather than weeks.
Testing homes for radon with the EcoQube is quick, easy, and affordable. After a three-minute setup, the detector is ready to plug in. The EcoQube provides an initial test result just 10 minutes after it is powered on. Results come straight into an app installed on smartphone devices.
Ten-minute updates on radon levels enable users to track the benefits of steps such as opening windows and doors to increase ventilation. A professional can help mitigate radon if levels consistently measure near or over EPA action levels.
Smartphone graphics, Wi-Fi communications, and embedded links to helpful resources enable users to track radon levels easily. The EcoQube’s Android and iOS compatible app provides trending data on a home’s radon levels spanning a day or even a year. Wi-Fi capability allows users to share results with other family members. If radon levels exceed an acceptable threshold, notifications alert homeowners. The app also provides educational links to explain the readings.
The EcoQube sets new standards for accurate and consistent monitoring
The EcoQube is also highly accurate. This palm-sized radon detector from Ecosense offers 15 times the sensitivity of other devices on the market. Ecosense’s patented ion chamber detectors rival the accuracy of research-grade instruments.Because radon levels fluctuate, accurate monitoring needs to be long-term and continuous. Levels change daily but tend to be highest in the fall and winter when most people are indoors. To combat this constant fluctuation, the EcoQube continuously monitors homes much like a smoke detector. It delivers reliable data on trends over short-term and long-term periods. For more information on the device, readers can visit the website.