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Radon levels in Hamilton schools not known, resident says

A Waterdown resident is urging the local school board and provincial government introduce mandatory testing in high risk areas for radon — the second leading cause of lung cancer among Canadians.

A colourless and odourless gas that is naturally produced by the breakdown of uranium in soil, radon can seep through a crack in a building’s foundation.

Robert Graham has been in a two-year long battle with government officials to have testing done at school sites.

“I think the fear is if they test a few of the schools, especially the one-level schools, that if they found that they have high levels that everybody is going to panic,” he said. “It’s not to cause panic it’s just to see are kids still going to schools that may have this radon leakage problem - you don’t know unless you test.”

A grandfather to four children, Graham said the Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board has so far been mum on whether it will test some of its facilities.

“I kind of gave up on it because I thought nobody really wants to test,” he said, crediting school board trustee Karen Turkstra for being receptive to his concerns.

Health Canada recommends that long-term radon detectors be placed in schools, where possible, for an optimal period of 10 months during the school year.

Radon not a 'required test' for school board, trustee says

​The agency recommends that the long-term average of radon concentration during school hours stay below 200 Bq/m3 – the recommended upper level for detection.

Turkstra told CBC Hamilton that the school board is compliant with all provincial Ministry standards and “at this time it is not a required test that Boards must undergo.”

“I am not opposed to testing specific sites if that is what Facilities Management and the Health and Safety Committee are recommending,” she said, adding such an initiative has not come before the school board.

“The Board and staff always put student and staff safety and well being in the forefront of all decision making,” Turkstra said.

A Cross Canada Radon Survey conducted in 2009/2010 shows that 4.4 per cent of homes in Hamilton were above that level.

Read the full article online: http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/hamilton/news/radon-levels-in-hamilton-schools-not-known-resident-says-1.2606976