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Radon mitigation nearing completion at St. Anthony school, retests to be done

White Hills Academy in St. Anthony. STEPHEN ROBERTS/THE NORTHERN PEN
White Hills Academy in St. Anthony. STEPHEN ROBERTS/THE NORTHERN PEN - Stephen Roberts

Parent says NLESD has been responsive to concerns

ST. ANTHONY, N.L. —

The Newfoundland and Labrador English School District (NLESD) is continuing efforts to test and reduce radon levels at the school in St. Anthony.

In September, parents received a letter informing them radon levels were found to be above the recommended maximum in three rooms at White Hills Academy.

Room 106 (the vice principal’s office), 107 (the principal’s office) and 147 (kindergarten classroom) tested above the 200 Bq/m3 threshold, requiring mitigation within two years.

When the NLESD contacted the Northern Pen on Oct. 31, it said mitigation was expected to be completed by the end of the week.

The rooms will be retested to ensure radon levels have been successfully reduced.

NLESD confirmed the retesting process will take about three months, with additional time before the district gets the results.

The district said once this second round of testing is complete, all ground-level rooms at White Hills Academy will have been tested.

NLESD also supplied The Northern Pen a list of results for each room. 

While some rooms weren’t on the list, the district clarified it is because some rooms open into others and those results were included together.

These rooms have operable walls that open into adjacent classrooms.

Room 149, for example, was not on the list because it opens into Room 150.

Therefore, the results were included together under Room 150.

Kindergarten parent Gail Sexton, who brought her concerns to The Northern Pen in September, still had concerns about one of the rooms that was tested.

Room 233, which is the music room on the second floor, tested just below the threshold at 199 Bq/m3.

Sexton felt this was cause for concern and believed mitigation should occur in this room as well.

NLESD confirmed that Room 233 will also be mitigated in the near future as a proactive measure.

Mitigation for Room 233 is scheduled after all required provincial mitigation is complete.

NLESD says its efforts have surpassed Health Canada guidelines, which only suggest testing ground level rooms occupied continuously, by the same individuals, for at least four hours a day.

Meanwhile, Sexton says she’s not as concerned about radon levels at the school as she was in September, because she believes NLESD staff has been responsive to their concerns and has acted on them. 

But she says parents will continue to keep pressure on them to ensure the school is safe for their children.

About radon
Health Canada states radon is an invisible, odourless and tasteless radioactive gas produced from the breakdown of uranium in soil and rock.

When radon is released from the ground into the outdoor air, it is diluted and not a concern.

However, Health Canada says in enclosed spaces, radon can accumulate to high levels and become a health risk.

Long-term exposure to high levels of radon can cause cancer.

Health Canada estimates about 16 per cent of lung cancer deaths are related to radon exposure. 

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