Update: Radon expert says schools should test more often
One local radon expert reached out to us after our 11 Call for Action team uncovered that many of our local schools tested high for radon years ago. We have been reporting that some schools have not been tested since then, and they are not breaking any laws.
Radon is a deadly, odorless gas. Since the early 1990s, school districts in Colorado have been required to test for radon, but there is no law requiring them to fix high levels. You can read our full, original 11 Call for Action Investigation
We submitted open records requests and found several schools tested high for the deadly gas. The EPA's guideline is four picocuries per liter of air (pCi/L). In 2002, a crawl space at School District 20's Timberview Middle School tested nearly 40 times higher than that. After we reached out to District 20, they retested and it came back okay now. The levels were less than one. The district said everything is safe and there is no need for concern.
One local radon expert says all schools should test more often. "Children being in schools with high radon levels over a long period of time would have a detrimental health effect," said Brent Ulbert, Owner of Radon Professional Discount Supply in Colorado Springs. "There’s no way to know exactly what that effect would be."
Ulbert said his company ships radon supplies all across the country. “We’re one of the largest suppliers of radon fans and mitigation accessories for anything and everything radon," said Ulbert. “We probably are one of the top three suppliers in the entire United States."
He knows just how dangerous radon can be. "If you were to breathe in 6.2 pCi/L in radioactivity, in radon gas, what that would be the equivalent to is 200 extra chest x-rays in terms of radiation in your lungs," said Ulbert.
Ulbert said the EPA recommends testing every two years. “It would be nice if everybody tested more regularly, especially schools," said Ulbert. "The EPA recommends testing every two years because soil conditions do change, building conditions change. A building is not an air-tight vessel so even if you’ve installed a radon system in a school or in a home, it is still recommended that you test every two years so it would be nice if everybody abiding by those rules and tested. It’s just a cheap, easy way to have peace of mind.”
"Not enough homes are tested, not enough schools are tested," he added. "Awareness just needs to be up overall and it’s really simple to fix.”
If you want a radon test kit, you can reach out to Professional Discount Supply. They have kits for sale for about $15.
to find more information on their website.
to find more information, including how to get a test kit, through the El Paso County Health Department.