Teachers Worry About Lack Of Radon Information - NewsChannel5.com | Nashville News, Weather & Sports

Teachers Worry About Lack Of Radon Information

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by Ben Hall
Investigative Reporter

NASHVILLE, Tenn. - Metro Nashville teachers are voicing new concerns to administrators about ongoing radon testing in the schools. 

The president of the Metro Nashville Education Association, Erick Huth, told NewsChannel 5 Investigates many teachers are concerned about radon in their schools, but some have been warned not to talk about it to the media.

"We've had some teachers call who said the principal told them they weren't allowed to speak with the press," Huth said.

It was one of the issues that MNEA brought to the attention of school administrators in a monthly meeting.

"Teachers do not shed their first amendment right to free speech just because there is radon in the school," Huth said.

He says administrators agreed that teachers should be able to talk to the media if they're interested. 

Huth believes one principal wrongly warned teachers to stay quiet and says the issue has now been corrected. 

But he says an even bigger concern is the overall lack of information.

"We've had several complaints from teachers expressing concerns that radon levels in their classrooms were high, and they didn't feel like the district was doing enough," Huth said.

He says teachers at Two Rivers Middle School have expressed some of the biggest concerns. 

Two Rivers has a history of high radon dating back to 1989. 

The district now says all classrooms are below the EPA action level after installing radon fans, but Huth says some teachers worry about how long they were exposed to high radon.

"We've had a number of teachers concerned there's been a high incidence of cancer at their schools," Huth added.

Fran Whaley is now retired after teaching in the same classroom at Charlotte Park Elementary for more than 25 years. 

Charlotte Park was a school that the EPA tested in 1989, and 17 classrooms had levels of radon above what the EPA considers acceptable.

"Two teachers that were in the rooms right across from me both died of cancer," Whaley said.  "There are so many that have died of some form of cancer. It's scary to me."

Whaley has no way to know whether the cancers had anything to do with radon. 

But she says other teachers share her concerns and are eager for more information from the district.

In an e-mail, a Metro schools spokesperson says there is nothing preventing teachers from talking to the media.

She says the district provides regular updates about radon testing on its web page. 

The teachers association hopes the district will allow the health department to come into schools and answer questions from teachers about the testing.

Metro just released new test results from inside 10 schools. The health department tested five schools for the first time and re-tested five others. 

Results show Cane Ridge High School with more than 20 classrooms above the EPA action level after the school was tested for a second time. 

Eight of the schools tested show no classrooms above levels at which EPA recommends taking action.

Email: bhall@newschannel5.com

Click here to view updated results from the 2011 radon tests

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