Five of 38 Lowrie Primary School spaces tested by the West Linn-Wilsonville School District exceeded radon thresholds established by the Environmental Protection Agency, according to a release to the school community.
With HVAC renovations completed last summer — and to comply with the Oregon Health Authority's Healthy and Safe Schools Plan — the district placed canisters at the school Feb. 6 and picked them up Feb. 9.
Five of the 38 canisters exceeded 4.0 picocuries per liter of air, a threshold determined by the EPA.
Jeff Chambers, the facilities manager for the department of operations, said in the release that there is not an immediate risk to building occupants and that the district will address the issue deliberately.
“As recommended by the EPA, OHA, and the District's Radon Testing and Protocol Plan, the District will proceed with a two-step approach, beginning with placing 90-day radon tests throughout the building. Additionally, the District is consulting with an engineering firm to discuss the design for a robust radon mitigation system to be installed. Consultations and site reviews are scheduled with the engineering firm for March 2023,” Chambers wrote.
Chambers added that radon had previously been tested at Lowrie in 2020 and the HVAC renovations had improved in seven of the eight rooms where radon levels had exceeded standards then.
“However, as air pressure is adjusted in a building, and ground naturally settles under a building, radon can be displaced underground and enter a building through new routes. The District's plan to place 90-day radon tests will help inform the design for the radon mitigation system,” Chambers wrote.
According to the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, radon is the second-leading environmental cause of lung cancer deaths.
“Everyone is exposed to radon, but some populations described in the literature are at higher risk of exposure to increased radon levels. In addition, some populations are more at risk of adverse health effects from radon exposure,” its website reads.