Your children may be exposed to radon in their schools. In Ohio, it is estimated that 62.5% of schools have a potential for at least one room in excess of the US EPA action level (4 pCi/l) compared to 19.3% nationwide. If your child's school has not been tested, ask the school administrator to contact the Ohio Department of Health to arrange for a test.



School Radon Hazard in Winter
School radon hazards increase in winter when the school heating system is operating to keep the building warm. As heated air escapes, the stack effect created by this process draws radon gas from the soil beneath the building foundation into the indoor air. In winter, schools try to cut down on heating costs by closing off the fresh-air intake vents. This makes the problem worse as the fresh air can dilute the radon-laden air and reduce the stack effect that pulls radon into the building. In order to reduce this radon hazard, school staff should strive to maintain about at least 20 cubic feet per minute fresh air delivery to the classroom for each person in that room.



Strategies for Mitigation
  To solve many indoor air quality problems, including radon, you have to understand how the building heating, ventilating and air conditioning (HVAC) system works and operate it with the improvement of air quality in mind. The HVAC system cannot only be used to increase ventilation in order to dilute the radon gas with outdoor air, it can also be used to pressurize the building in order to keep radon out. US EPA investigations indicate following two effective strategies for mitigation:


Solving Problems Using School Staff Skills 


Many problems can be solved by using the already available skills of the school's staff. The school staff can adjust the HVAC system as described in the US Environmental Protection Agency's publication "Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) Tools For Schools Action Kit." It provides clear and easily applied guidance to resolve indoor air quality problems, including a problem-solving wheel to suggest solutions to various symptoms. One of the resources in the kit is a ventilation checklist that can be useful in achieving radon reduction.

Sometimes the greatest challenge to reducing radon in schools is getting the school administration to decide that they need to fix the problem and provide the resources to do it. Your participation is needed to ensure that the school board and school administration makes it happen. Parents and students have a stake in getting a healthy outcome; but so do teachers and other school employees. After all, school staff spends more time in the school buildings and therefore have a greater exposure to radon. All interested individuals should voice their concern to the school board through either the Parent-Teachers Association (PTA) or their school employee professional association.

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