Many people think radon is only an issue in our homes, but did you know kids, teachers, and staff can also be exposed to radon in their schools? When sending your child to school, the last thing on your mind should be exposure to radon gas. However, this may be more common in Utah than you think—nearly 1 in 5 classrooms have dangerous radon levels.
Radon is an odorless, invisible, radioactive gas created when uranium in soil decays. The gas rises from underground and gets trapped inside buildings, and those inside then breathe it in. Prolonged exposure to radon gas over time, such as inside a classroom, can lead to lung cancer and other lung-related diseases. In fact, radon is the leading cause of lung cancer in non-smokers in the United States.
Schools are not immune to high radon gas levels. Because children spend so much time inside their classrooms and daycare centers, they may be at risk if the building has high levels of radon. Additionally, because kids take more breaths per minute than adults, they may take in more radon over time.
The good news is that high radon levels can be reduced! Eleanor Divver, Radon Coordinator with the Utah Department of Environmental Quality, works closely with schools to test their radon levels and protect children in urban and rural areas. Even more, according to The Deseret News, “most [schools with high radon levels] can be remedied by adjusting HVAC systems to increase the airflow.”
We encourage concerned parents to contact their schools and daycares to ask if they have performed a radon test in the last five years or have a radon mitigation system. If they have not tested the building for radon, we encourage you to contact the Utah Department of Environmental Quality.
The lowest level of a home is at greatest risk for high radon levels, and this portion of a home is often where children’s bedrooms reside. If your child has a bedroom in the basement or the lowest inhabitable level of a home, we encourage you to order a free radon test today.