Fans Will Be Used To Combat Radon In Schools - NewsChannel5.com | Nashville News, Weather & Sports

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Fans Will Be Used To Combat Radon In Schools

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By Ben Hall
Investigative Reporter

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Metro is taking steps to lower radon levels inside schools following a NewsChannel 5 investigation.

Initial tests for the cancer causing gas showed high levels of radon at several schools.

On Wednesday, the Health Department released its latest round of tests, including re-tests from three schools. The tests reveal Metro has lowered radon levels at some schools, but other schools are still testing high.

Parents and employees at Two Rivers Middle have been concerned ever since the first round of tests showed some classrooms were more than 10 times higher than what the Environmental Protection Agency recommends.

"People are on edge," said PTO President Kelly Cooper after seeing the first test results. "Until we get those results back, I'm sure we'll have a lot worries about it."

The results from the second round of testing are now back and officials think they found why levels were so high the first time.

Two radon fans that were installed years ago to lower radon levels had stopped working.

Metro fixed the fans and re-tested. The new results show acceptable levels in all the classrooms.

"If you don't test you won't know there is a problem. If you test, you fix the problem and I'm pretty happy about that," said Sanmi Areola an environmental toxicologist helping with the testing at the Metro Health Department.

Metro stopped testing for radon in 1989, the same year the EPA installed fans at Two Rivers after finding extremely high levels for radon.

No one is sure how long the fans have been broken.

But the latest round of tests showed problems at another Metro school.

Fifteen rooms at Goodlettsville Elementary had radon levels above the EPA action level. The school was also tested back in 1989, and it had high levels back then as well.

Metro is promising to fix the problem.

"This is the first week after the testing, and we'll be going back into the schools this week to figure out what's going on and look at how to best bring these numbers down," said Areola.

Metro is also changing the conditions in which it tests schools. It is now leaving air conditioning units on over the weekends when the tests are put up.

In some schools with high levels, it is increasing the amount of outside air coming in which will lower radon levels but raise utility costs.

Metro is also installing radon fans in at least 10 schools.

Many new schools were built with the option of installing fans, but it may take more than installing fans at some of the older schools.

Metro schools will pay all costs associated with lowering radon levels, but so far the district has not said how much it will cost.

Email: bhall@newschannel5.com

Click here to view updated results from the 2011 radon tests

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