JEFFERSON COUNTY, Ind. — In 2018, we sent open records requests to districts in our area. The Southwestern Consolidated Schools Superintendent at the time said in an email, "we do not currently test for radon."
In 2019, we checked with the district again to see if it is doing anything differently. With a new Superintendent, a new standard as the district told us they have tested for the radioactive gas. Superintendent Jeffrey Bates said in an email, "All radon tests that Southwestern Jefferson County Schools submitted came back well below the minimum acceptable rating."
INFORMATION FROM THE EXPERTS:
Indiana schools are not required to test for radon but being exposed to the average levels in Jefferson County (2 to 4 pCi/L) could be equivalent to smoking a half a pack of cigarettes a day, according to the EPA.
Approximately 21,000 Americans die annually from radon-induced lung cancer, including people who have quit smoking or never smoked.
The EPA recommended action level is at 4 pCi/L, while the World Health Organization recommends action at 2.7 pCi/L. Both organizations are clear, no level of radon exposure is safe, especially long-term.
Changes in the building and environment could cause changes in radon exposure levels, therefore the EPA recommends retesting every building at least every other year to make sure levels do not reach dangerous levels.
The only way to know if levels of radon gas are dangerous is to test and retest.
- Find a test kit.
- Indiana Radon Map from the EPA
- State resources and information from the Indiana Department of Environmental Management
This is part of a WHAS11 investigation into radon exposure in schools. Read the full 2018 report.