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Radon Gas in U.S. Classrooms

Health officials warn that thousands of the nation's classrooms are filled with high levels of radioactive radon gas. Chronic exposure could lead to lung cancer, but many school districts aren't doing anything about it.

Watch a video of Dr. David Sanderson, Professor of Medicine Emeritus and learn more about radon.

WEDNESDAY, Feb. 29, 2012 -- Imagine your child is smoking a half a pack of cigarettes per day at school. Inhaling radon, even at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's action level, the level at which it recommends schools take action to mitigate radon exposure, yields just about the same result as that half-pack-a-day habit. That's what radon expert Bill Field told the Today show in a new investigative report.

NBC correspondent Jeff Rosen explored radon gas exposure -- a big -- and invisible -- problem facing schools across the country:

Exposure to high levels of radioactive radon gas is the leading cause of lung cancer after smoking, according to the EPA, which links radon to more than 20,000 lung cancer deaths per year. In addition to lung cancer, a recent study published in the European Respiratory Journal linked radon to death from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

"Of all the environmental exposures you get, this is the one that causes the most deaths," Field told the Today show.

But the even bigger problem is that school districts aren't testing their buildings radon levels.

A nationwide survey of radon levels in schools found that nearly one in five has at least one classroom with a short-term radon level above the EPA action level (4 picoCuries per liter), according to the EPA. They round that out to about 70,000 classrooms.

Despite the numbers, the NBC news team noticed a trend when asking schools across the country, specifically ones in radon "hot zones," if they were interested in free radon testing. They're not. Out of 60 schools contacted, 40 declined or failed to respond.

There's no federal regulation requiring radon testing in schools. Many states also require it. According to Rosen's report, only five states currently mandate radon testing in schools.

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The first step to help ensure the safety of you and your family’s health and safety is to have your home tested for radon. At St. Louis Radon, our professional testers deploy the latest in computerized electronic real-time radon monitoring technology to provide you with a comprehensive report, including a complete visual graph of radon level data points as recorded over a 48-hour sampling period.

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If testing indicates levels of radon that require action, our team of engineers and technicians will design and install a custom radon mitigation system to safely and effectively redirect radon and other soil gasses out of your home. We also take additional measures to seal and close other possible breaches in the foundation that could let soil gasses into the through cracks or drain tiles systems.

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New Construction

With new home construction projects, it is crucial to determine the level of radon that may be present in the soil before the home is built. It’s also critical to have the new home retested for potential radon concentrations immediately following occupancy. We also highly recommend installing an Active Dampness Control System (ADC) with every new build.

Learn More About New Construction