Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Schools need to protect students and staff from radon

This January,U.S. EPA encourages you to test your school facilities for radon

Children may be exposed to radon
at school.
Radon — a colorless, odorless, radioactive gas — is one of the most hazardous indoor pollutants.

It is the leading cause of lung cancer among non-smokers. And it might be affecting your children.

Without proper mitigation, radon can enter school facilities from the soil through cracks and openings in building foundations.

Thousands of classrooms nationwide have radon levels above EPA's action level of 4 pCi/l (picocuries per liter), exposing occupants to this serious health risk. The only way to determine if your school building has elevated radon levels is to test.

Using the Framework for Effective School IAQ Management: Key Drivers can help you address radon risk as part of a comprehensive IAQ management program:

  • Organize: Develop a systematic approach by using the IAQ Tools for Schools Action Kit to tie your goals for radon testing to your overarching IAQ, health and environmental program goals. Establish a multidisciplinary team to plan for radon testing and mitigation, and develop district-wide radon management procedures.

  • Communicate: Include radon awareness as part of your overall IAQ management training and education efforts. Share your testing results, mitigation plans and follow-up testing plans. In cases of elevated radon levels, ensure that your mitigation plan is in place so you can communicate those plans to parents and staff.

  • Assess: Perform radon testing in conjunction with your regular IAQ walkthroughs. If elevated radon levels are found, survey your building for potential radon entry points and mitigate.

  • Plan: Working with your IAQ team, identify your action steps and set a schedule for your testing plan. Determine what type of test kits to use and which rooms will be tested. Your state radon program can help identify next steps and offer other guidance throughout the process of testing and mitigation.

  • Act: Test according to your IAQ management plan. EPA suggests initial short-term testing in all frequently-occupied, ground contact rooms. Attend radon training to learn about radon and how to effectively test, mitigate and maintain radon reduction. Empower maintenance and facilities staff to become radon champions, school district staff will likely refer to them for answers about the testing plan and mitigation actions.

  • Evaluate: Determine additional testing needs and follow-up. Schedule re-testing after all major renovations, and consider how HVAC modifications or upgrades may affect radon intrusion.

Learn more about radon testing and mitigation in your school district by visiting EPA's radon home page, or contact your state radon office for local information about radon, and for state-specific recommendations for testing and mitigation.

Source: EPA

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