Radon remediation for SD 20

Radon tests show some SD 20 schools including some in Castlegar have unacceptable levels.

Kootenay-Columbia School District 20

School District 20 has recently released a letter summarizing the results of radon testing throughout the district. The testing and plans for remediation were done in consultation with Interior Health (IHA), which is reflected in the fact that the letter is co-signed by Dr. Sue Pollock, the medical health officer for IHA, and SD 20 superintendent Greg Luterbach.

The testing was done in every school in the district from November 2015 through March 2016. “We did the longer term tests and did it over the winter and early spring because that is when radon levels are the highest,” said Luterbach. Testing units were placed in multiple locations within each school, mostly in basement and first floor areas as this is where readings will be the highest.

Previous radon testing was done in 2009, but was done in the summer/fall which doesn’t reflect the current recommendations for testing.

The West Kootenay region is known to have high radon levels, with Castlegar being especially of concern. “Not surprisingly, given what we know in the community, the Castlegar areas were probably the ones where if we were going to see high results, where we would expect to see them,” said Luterbach.

The Canadian guideline for radon is a maximum of 200 becquerels per cubic metre (Bq/m3). Health Canada recommends that areas with readings between 200 and 600 Bq/m3 be remediated within two years and areas above 600 Bq/m3 within one year. Nine schools had no readings above the 200 Bq/m3 level. Health effects associated with radon are cumulative over the long-term, with an increased risk of lung cancer being the only known effect.

Stanley Humphries Secondary School had only one reading over 200 Bq/m3, but it was the highest reading in the district. The reading of 408 Bq/m3 was found in the basement storage area, a location where neither students nor staff spend time. Two basement classrooms had readings of 176 and 178 Bq/m3.

The school with the most concerning numbers is Kinnaird Elementary School. Tests were placed in six locations and the results were 88, 138, 204, 231, 231 and 250 Bq/m3. Even though the Kootenay-Columbia Learning Centre – Castlegar Campus didn’t have readings over 200 Bq/m3, it had several results close so it is also of concern. The majority of the readings at the remaining Castlegar schools were all under 50 Bq/m3.

For areas above the guideline, SD 20 is implementing temporary measures such as opening windows and increasing ventilation to lower the radon levels. The district also has a goal of reducing radon amounts in schools that were below the 200 Bq/m3 level.The district has also engaged a certified expert to evaluate the buildings for longer term mitigation. The consultant was recommended by Interior Health and lives and works in the area. An action plan is currently being developed; once the action plan is in place, it will be shared on the SD 20 website.

As time at school only makes up a portion of a child’s potential exposure to radon, IHA recommends that everyone test their homes. The summer is not the best time to test however, as open doors and windows increase ventilation in a home. Free testing kits can be obtained in numerous locations across the region, but you should wait until fall to do the test. In Castlegar the best place to obtain a kit is at Golder Associates, 201 Columbia Ave. To find out other locations throughout the region where testing kits can be obtained, visit ddschmidt.shawwebspace.ca.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Comments are closed

Just Posted

Lost dog swims Columbia River multiple times searching for home

The dog was missing from his Castlegar home for three days.

Traffic finally eases along Arrow Lakes ferry routes

Motorists were stuck for up to six hours in ferry lineups over the weekend

Nelson climbers raise racism awareness with video

Tula and Tosh Sherkat and Rossland director Liam Barnes collaborated on the video

Horrifying video shows near head-on collision on Trans Canada

The video was captured on dash cam along Highway 1

Fraser Valley woman complains of violent RCMP takedown during wellness check

Mounties respond that she was not co-operating during Mental Health Act apprehension

B.C. sees 12 new COVID-19 cases, no new deaths

Three outbreaks exist in health-care settings

COVID-19: B.C. promotes video-activated services card

Mobile app allows easier video identity verification

ICBC to resume road tests in July with priority for rebookings, health-care workers

Tests have been on hold for four months due to COVID-19

Would you take a COVID-19 vaccine? Poll suggests most Canadians say yes

75 per cent of Canadians would agree to take a novel coronavirus vaccine

Budget officer pegs cost of basic income as calls for it grow due to COVID-19

Planned federal spending to date on pandemic-related aid now tops about $174 billion

Sexologist likens face mask debate to condom debate: What can we learn from it?

Society’s approach to condom usage since the 1980s can be applied to face masks today, one expert says

Most Read