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Yesterday Cooperative Extension received confirmation that this next fiscal year’s (July 1, 2015- July 30 2016) has been provided by the EPA. There has been concern from year to year since 2012 of the funding being cut, but it is here. And so I will continue to work with various entities to get the word out on testing and mitigating). This month I’ve been available for the common phone calls to come in at my office (474-6366 or 1-800-478-8324) for residents. I’ve driven out to a tribal village about 500 miles there and back to drop off a group of radon tests, and have continued the planning/communication of mediating testing with Alaska’s school districts. 
 
It is the latter, training and helping with the testing schools which will take up a share of this year’s operating budget. Test kits are not cheap; even with an unbelievable deal from one of the few providers in the country, it costs $10-$20 per classroom to test. Count up the number of classrooms in all of your kids’ schools- then add the rooms where staff, teachers and students may be occupying for the majority of a day (such as libraries, gyms, cafeterias, secretary offices, etc…).  You can see where it easily costs several hundred dollars for small schools and can be up in the thousands for some of the larger schools in the state.  That is just for the test kits, as there obviously is expenditure of time and effort by district personnel.  
 
In many states that require testing in schools (Alaska does not), the rule of thumb of testing every five years is followed. Why twice a decade? There may be earthquakes, a changing of the water table or floods which can redistribute the routes which radon takes advantage of when escaping from the uranium that created it below in the ground. But generally with large ventilation systems which schools often have, someone changing the controls which may effect the air exchange rate can change the level of exposure in the building. If you have questions about radon in your local schools, call your local district’s environmental or safety health manager to see if your district has tested and when. The good news is that unlike homes that may have several factors effecting the escapement of radon out of the house or negative pressure causing the infilling of radon into the home, schools have a very large and sophisticated air handling system so that in this one rare venue, ‘diluting is the solution to pollution’. Any other questions about radon? Call Art at 1-800-478-8324.
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