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Virginia’s Work on Radon in Schools

by Margaret Henderson

Virginia’s Office of Radiological Health has conducted several activities regarding radon in schools. Due to testing in the Franklin County School District which had 24 areas confirmed to have radon levels in excess of 4pCi/L, the EPA recommended action level, several activities were conducted to assist the district. (Results were from testing done in schools and administration buildings.) Virginia code requires testing schools. According to the department website, Virginia’s General Assembly passed legislation that requires all schools in the Commonwealth to be tested for radon after July 1, 1994, as well as any new school buildings. Each school is required to maintain files of radon test results.

In response to the results, HVAC systems of the classrooms were adjusted by personnel to increase ventilation by introducing more outside air and other actions included correcting improperly functioning ventilation systems. A video radon training was given to school personnel via webinar. See https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j-KBkxkWMFw&feature=youtu.be. Parents were notified by letter.Classrooms were retested, conditions continued to be monitored and the school worked with a certified mitigator.

The Department of Education previously has notified school superintendents via memorandum reminding of requirements for testing and reporting. Additional recommendations included:

• Test new buildings/additions within 18 months of occupancy.
• Trained school personnel may perform the tests, or schools may hire currently certified testers.
• Test in all classrooms contacting the ground.
• Test when school is in session while ventilation systems are operating normally.
• Test between November 1 and March 31.
• Retest when results are equal to or greater than 4.0 pCi/L to confirm levels; mitigate if levels remain elevated.

The Department of Education also has a website with information about radon, http://www.pen.k12.va.us/support/facility_construction/healthy_buildings/index.shtml directing inquiries to the Virginia Department of Health.

For more information about radon in Virginia, contact:
Ryan Paris, Radon Coordinator
Telephone: (804) 864-8161
Email: Ryan.Paris@vdh.virginia.gov