SD20 to test for radon in facilities

Tests will verify if levels remain normal since last done six years ago.

Radon gas is colourless, odourless and tasteless, so the only way to know if levels are high is to conduct testing.

This is reason enough to check into levels at facilities in School District 20.

The Board of Education decided at a recent regular meeting that it will ask Interior Health (IH) to set up test kits to verify that results remain normal since its was last done about six years ago.

“Sometimes results may vary,” said Natalie Verigin, board secretary-treasurer. “Though there is no reason to believe that something has changed.”

Radon is an indirect decay product of uranium, and radon gas comes from the breakdown of uranium in soil, rock and water. Radon is a naturally occurring gas found in the ground and only becomes a concern when it reaches high levels, such as the “hot spots” found in the B.C. Interior, according to Health Canada.

Radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer with Health Canada estimating as many as 16 per cent of lung cancer deaths attributed to radon exposure.

Testing involves placing a small puck-like kit within the lowest area of a building for a minimum of three months before it’s mailed to a laboratory for results.

The District Occupational Health and Safety Committee is overseeing the testing in the school district, which should occur over the winter.

The health authority encourages everyone to test their homes or buildings as it is the only way to confirm radon levels, said Karl Hardt, IH communications officer.

“IH has been working with schools and school districts for a number of years, and a radon awareness initiative has enabled Interior Health to provide free testing kits for public buildings, including schools,” he said.

Home kits are inexpensive, easy-to-use, and available at the Trail Health and Environment Community office at 1319 Bay Ave. Testing services, including analysis, are available with a $15 donation, or free, courtesy of the Donna Schmidt Lung Cancer Prevention Society.

Residents can also test their home environment with a test kit (about $30) through www.radonaware.ca. Testing is best during cold months when homes or buildings are closed up, and the risk of radon gas accumulating in indoor spaces is highest.