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Schools Testing for Radon

Testing for radon is under way in the Ozark and Nixa school districts.

In Ozark, testing is under way in buildings across the district. About 60 percent of school districts statewide have undergone radon testing.

Ozark was scheduled to be tested during the 2013-14 school year. Randy Maley of the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services and Kevin Patterson, associate superintendent of Ozark schools, were able to move the time frame up to this year.

On Aug. 27, Maley began placing radon testing kits across the district. The kits will remain on location until after MAP testing is complete at the end of April. The lab results will be available early next summer.

Radon is a naturally occurring radioactive gas. Soils contain trace amounts of uranium that decay over time. The decay process produces radon, which is highly toxic when exposure occurs, especially small amounts of radon exposure over a long period of time. According to the EPA, radon can cause lung damage and is the second-leading cause of lung cancer behind tobacco.

In Nixa, a 2011 report showed elevated levels at the John Thomas School of Discovery campus during overnight hours. However, according to school district spokesman Zac Rantz, the high radon levels did not occur during the day when students and staff were in the building. Rantz stressed that there was no danger to students but that the school district heeded advice from the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services and continued testing.

“We have consulted with experts, and there is no immediate danger to our students and there was no immediate danger in the past,” Rantz said.

Construction work over the summer at the John Thomas campus could change radon levels. The district retested the building in August and awaits the results of that test to see what actions, if any, need to be taken. Changes could be as simple as a minor adjustment to the ventilation system.

Rantz adds that anyone with questions is welcome to contact him at the district’s central office.

See full article: http://www.news-leader.com/article/20120905/NEWS01/309050014/Schools-testing-for-radon