One in five schools can not show sound radon levels

child school radon levelsChildren.Schools.Photo:

One in five schools can not document sound radon levels

A total of 470 schools in 103 municipalities have checked the radon level indoors this winter. Every fifth school can not prove that they have a satisfactory low radon levels.


Radon is an odorless and invisible radioactive gas that is associated with increased lung cancer risk when it occurs in indoor air. There has been a limit for radon in schools since 2014, and in winter conducted Network for environmental health services (NEMFO) a campaign to find out how things are.

The results show that every fifth school can not show a satisfactory levels, but only in few cases it is because the schools had high measurements without doing anything about it.

Insufficient measurements

– Many schools have measured radon, but there are too many who have not measured or have not measured in a good enough manner. The survey gives us a good indication of the radon situation in school, says senior counselor Bård Olsen in the Norwegian Radiation Protection Authority.

There is much that indicates lack of competence, systematic and overview when it comes to performing radon measurements and what should be done. It is the municipalities that are responsible for following up the limits for radon in indoor air in children’s, youth and upper secondary schools.

Facts about Radon (Wikipedia)

Radon is a chemical element with symbol Rn and atomic number 86. It is a radioactive, colorless, odorless, tasteless noble gas. It occurs naturally as an intermediate step in the normal radioactive decay chains through which thorium and uranium slowly decay into lead; radon, itself, is a decay product of radium. Its most stable isotope, 222Rn, has a half-life of 3.8 days. Since thorium and uranium are two of the most common radioactive elements on Earth, and since their isotopes have very long half-lives, on the order of billions of years, radon will be present in nature long into the future in spite of its short half-life as it is continually being regenerated.

Unlike all the other intermediate elements in the aforementioned decay chains, radon is, under normal conditions, gaseous and easily inhaled. The gas is a health hazard. It is often the single largest contributor to an individual’s background radiation dose, but due to local differences in geology, the level of the radon-gas hazard differs from location to location. Despite its short lifetime, radon-gas from natural sources can accumulate in buildings, especially, due to its high density, in low areas such as basements and crawl spaces. Radon can also occur in ground water – for example, in some spring waters and hot springs.

Epidemiological studies have shown a clear link between breathing high concentrations of radon and incidence of lung cancer. Radon is a contaminant that affects indoor air quality worldwide. According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency, it is the second most frequent cause of lung cancer, after cigarette smoking, causing 21,000 lung cancer deaths per year in the United States. About 2,900 of these deaths occur among people who have never smoked. While radon is the second most frequent cause of lung cancer, it is the number one cause among non-smokers, according to EPA estimates. As the matter itself decays, it produces other radioactive elements called radon daughters (also known as r. progeny) or decay products. Unlike the gaseous radon itself, the daughters are solids and stick to surfaces, such as dust particles in the air. If such contaminated dust is inhaled, these particles can also cause lung cancer.

© NTB Scanpix / Norway Today