Schools contain radon levels above EPA recommendations

Friday, April 1, 2011 at 1:59pm
Staff reports

Radon tests conducted in March at Metro schools revealed several classrooms have amounts of the natural gas in excess of the Environmental Protection Agency’s recommended levels.

Tests were conducted in 35 schools. Of 1,239 tests completed, 331, or 27 percent, demonstrated levels above 4 picocuries per liter, the EPA’s action threshold. 

The test breakdowns can be viewed here

“While elevated radon levels need to be taken seriously, they do not pose an immediate danger,” Metro Nashville Public Schools (MNPS) said in a statement. “Radon levels can fluctuate over time, and the EPA does not recommend taking action to reduce radon levels based on one single test unless follow-up testing confirms high levels.”

According to the MNPS website, the school district and Metro Public Health Department are working together on continued tests and will follow expert guidance to address concerns.

“Lung cancer is not a risk for our schoolchildren, but we want to follow the EPA recommendations to provide the best protection for children and staff to reduce their lifetime exposure,” Bill Paul, health department director, said in a statement. “Radon is an important risk, and it is found throughout Middle Tennessee. This testing in schools can serve as a reminder to all of us to have our homes tested.”

Results from initial testing over the next several weeks will determine the number of follow-up tests that will be required. The cost for the initial testing in all Metro school buildings is expected to be $25,000. 

Radon testing began in Metro schools after health officials learned of a board of health regulation and a Metro ordinance that were both adopted in the late 1980s. The local regulation requires radon testing in Metro schools and all Metro government owned and leased buildings every five years.