Radon Testing Schools and Other Large Buildings
The Truth About Health Risks Going Unchecked
By Ed Buckley & Mike Myers
Bethlehem PA – August 4, 2006. You may have heard recent news stories about the link between radon and lung cancer. Many of these studies focus on radon in the home – where we spend much of our time. But the fact is that any building that comes in contact with the ground can have an indoor radon problem. One area that often gets overlooked as a significant and unmistakable radon health risk is our schools.
Radon is the #1 cause of lung cancer in non-smokers
According to the EPA www.epa.gov/radiation/radionuclides/radon.htm, “In two 1999 reports, the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) concluded after an exhaustive review, that radon in indoor air is the second leading cause of lung cancer in the U.S. after cigarette smoking. The NAS estimated that 15,000-22,000 Americans die every year from radon-related lung cancer.”
These reports also show that radon is the leading cause of lung cancer in non-smokers. This should be concerning to everyone. It is important that students, teachers, and parents be aware that a radon problem could potentially exist in their school. A nationwide EPA school radon survey estimates that nearly 1 in 5 schools have high radon levels. The key to determine if your school has a radon problem is to test for it.
Guidelines for Radon Testing Schools
Decide if the radon testing will be done by qualified professionals or school personnel.
If school personnel are to be used, will they be properly trained and certified? Is funding available to pay for training?
Estimate the number of test devices required by counting all rooms and offices at or below grade. For large open areas, such as gymnasiums and cafeterias, figure 1 detector for every 2000 sq. feet.
Multiply the number of radon test devices counted in Step 3 by 15% for QA/QC samples. Add this number to the total in Step 3.
The exact number of test devices required should be determined by a trained professional. The totals above can be used, however, by administrative staff to help determine the budget for the radon testing project. Download this helpful form to aid in this task: School Test Form. Remember to also budget for follow-up testing.
If funding is not available to properly test all of the buildings in the school district, then set up a multi-year schedule and budget accordingly. Do not partially test any given building or try to test only 1 or 2 classrooms. You must properly test the entire building or don’t test at all.
To find out more about radon testing in schools, including more about health risks, how schools are tested, testing strategies, what happens if your school fails the test. Find out more information at radon tests for schools.
In conclusion, whether you or your family are at school or at home, the risks of radon exposure are very real. The key to understanding the severity of this threat is knowing your radon level. The only way to know your level is to test. Don’t wait – test today.