Health authority checking Okanagan schools for radon gas – Vernon News

Valleywide radon tests

Schools across the Okanagan are being checked for a silent killer.

In the North Okanagan, School District 22 parents are being informed of radon testing happening in schools across the district.

Interior Health is performing a pilot project to find out how much of the naturally occurring dangerous gas is present in schools all over the Valley.

While Interior Health is supplying more than 200 radon testing pucks to SD 22 alone, “this isn’t the first time we’ve tested our schools for radon,” says director of facilities Archie Stogianos.

Area schools were first tested by a third party back in 2015. No areas were over the limit, and all levels were considered safe, says Stogianos.

In this latest round of testing, radon pucks were placed in every school building in the North Okanagan before Christmas, including the maintenance building and district office.

The pucks are what Stogianos calls passive testers, which simply sit on shelves or the floor.

“They are harmless and pose no threat to anyone. The air simply flows through them for three to four months, and then they will be shipped off for testing,” likely in the spring.

Interior Health’s letter to parents is being distributed by schools.

It explains that radon is a radioactive gas that is formed naturally in the ground and is the second leading cause of lung cancer in Canada after smoking.

While the project focuses on schools, IH says school exposure only accounts for a small amount of radon a person could be exposed to. Radon can be present in community buildings or homes, and the only way of knowing what radon levels are, is by testing.

Additional information and resources about radon are available through Interior Health, BC Center for Disease Control and the BC Lung Foundation.

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