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2011 State Test Shows High Levels of Radon in Nixa Elementary School

According to the CDC radon gas is the second leading cause of lung cancer in the United States. The first is smoking. It’s an odorless, colorless radioactive gas.

Recently Nixa School officials found out there may have been dangerous levels of the gas in an elementary school.

But officials say there is no reason to panic, and the children are in no immediate danger.

The CDC says radon is responsible for more than 20,000 lung cancer deaths each year. It's a gas that comes from the breakdown of soil and rocks and is lethal when exposed to over an extended period of time.

So when high levels show up in a school, people get concerned; none more so than school officials.

“We take pride in providing safe and secure learning environments for our kids,” said Nixa Superintendent Stephen Kleinsmith.

That's why Kleinsmith took immediate action when he learned there could be high levels of radon in one of his schools.

“If there are problems we'll address them. It’s not difficult to fix,” he said.

The State tested John Thomas School of Discovery in 2011 and 2012 for radon. Recently a concerned parent, who is reportedly in the radon industry, emailed school officials with concerns about possible high radon readings.

“That was news to me. So I checked with the maintenance and facilities guys. No one knew about the radon readings,” Kleinsmith said.

When school officials started looking they noticed they didn't have or couldn't find any results from the State.

“We have no recollection of receiving these radon readings,” said Kleinsmith.

That's when officials asked the State for a copy of the radon test results. They got a letter back that says radon is a concern at John Thomas but only at night when the ventilation system wasn't in use.

At night the levels spiked to more than three times the EPA’s recommendation of safe levels. During the day, the radon levels were not dangerous.

“When I found out it was only at night it didn’t concern me. If during the day the levels are fine and they have plenty of ventilation then it won’t harm them,” said parent Sue McConnell.

Officials say the school underwent major renovations in the summer, including the ventilation system and hope that will alleviate those night spikes.

“We don't expect any problems but if there is there should be plenty of time to address and take care of them,” Kleinsmith said.

They have since ordered a new test which was done before school started and are waiting to hear back the results.

Radon testing in schools isn't required by any State or federal law, the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services offers it as a courtesy as part of a grant from the EPA.

But even if a school tests high for the deadly gas, there are no regulations that say a school has to fix it.

Nixa school officials say they are pro-active and will fix any high levels immediately. They are just waiting on the latest results. They should get the results of the latest radon test in about a week.

See full article: http://www.kspr.com/news/kspr-2011-state-test-show-high-levels-of-radon-in-nixa-elementary-school-20120820,0,5399583.story