In our continued efforts to provide safe and healthy schools for our students and staff, the Medford School District is beginning to test for radon in schools. A new state law requires that all districts in Oregon test schools for radon before January 1, 2021.
Radon is a naturally occurring gas that comes from deposits in the soil. It is colorless, odorless, and tasteless and can work its way into buildings through cracks in the ground and openings in foundations or under structures.
According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), radon is the number one cause of lung cancer among people who do not smoke. The threat of elevated radon levels in Southern Oregon is considered low; however, testing is the only definitive way to determine actual radon levels.
Testing is non-invasive and poses no danger to staff or students. It consists of placing a small container (test kit) in all rooms that people typically occupy and leaving it there for several days. The kits are then sent to a lab for analysis and results are posted on our test results page.
There are three types of test results as part of the quality assurance process:
Duplicates: Duplicates provide an indication of the precision of the measurement. Duplicates are test kits that are placed in the same location alongside the kits used as detectors for the same measurement period. They should have test results close to the primary detector.
Blanks: Blanks can be used to determine whether the manufacturing, shipping, storage or processing of the test kit has affected the accuracy of the measurements. They are called blanks because they are placed alongside opened detectors but then immediately resealed. As a result, blanks should have results at or close to 0.0 pCi/L.
Spikes: Spikes evaluate how accurately the detectors supplied by a radon testing laboratory measure radon and the accuracy of that lab’s kit processing. Spike testing involves exposing kits to known levels of radon in a certified performance test chamber. Those spikes are returned to the School Radon Measurement Team, which sends them (unidentified) to the radon testing laboratory. Spikes are intentionally infused at high levels, are labeled with fictitious room numbers and have never been on site.
While people may be exposed to elevated radon levels in schools, EPA data shows exposure at home is the number one source of radon exposure for most people. The EPA and Oregon Health Authority (OHA) recommend that all homes be tested for radon.
For more information about radon, visit the OHA’s website: www.healthoregon.org/radon.
For questions or concerns about testing, contact the district Facilities Department at (541) 842-3646.
Please remember that the health and well-being of our students and staff are our top priority.
Thank you for your cooperation.
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