The ABCs of the EPA's National Radon Action Month

January 17, 2014- The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has named January 2014 as National Radon Action Month (NRAM), issuing a call to protect students and staff from radon and encouraging schools to test their facilities for radon.

The EPA announcement, "Take Action: Protect Students and Staff From Radon," names the colorless, odorless, radioactive gas one of the most hazardous indoor pollutants.

Among non-smokers, radon is the leading cause of lung cancer. Radon can enter school facilities from the soil via cracks in the foundations of buildings.

The only way to determine radon exposure is by testing. Thus far, thousands of classrooms in America have radon levels above the EPA's action level of 4 pCi/l (picocuries per liter), posing a serious health risk to students and teachers.

In support of their effort, the EPA has developed online Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) Tools for Schools on its website, which includes a Framework for Effective School Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) Management, with the following key drivers:


The EPA makes developing a district-wide systematic approach easy with their IAQ Tools for Schools Action Kit. The kit helps schools tie radon testing goals to their overarching IAQ, health and environmental goals.


- Include radon awareness in IAQ management training and education.
- Share radon test results, mitigation plans and follow-up testing plans.
- Where elevated radon is found, ensure a mitigation plan and communicate those plans to staff and parents.


The EPA recommends radon testing be done in conjunction with regular IAQ walkthroughs. "If elevated radon levels are found, survey your building for potential radon entry points and mitigate," they write.


- Identify action steps with your IAQ team and set schedules for your testing plan.
- Determine kits and the rooms to be tested.
- Include state radon programs as you identify the next steps and seek guidance as you test for radon and mitigate.


- Test according to your IAQ management plan.
- Initially, the EPA suggests that you do short-term testing in all frequently occupied, ground contact rooms.
- Empower school maintenance and facilities staff to become "radon champions," so that school district staff may refer to them for answers about the testing plan and any mitigation actions.
- Learn more about radon and how to test, mitigate and maintain radon reduction efforts.


- With any HVAC modifications/upgrades, be sure to consider radon intrusion. 
- Determine additional testing needs and follow up.
- Re-test for radon after any major renovations.

The EPA's announcement is available here. The EPA's IAQ Tools for Schools page is available here.

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