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High radon levels found at Charles F. Tigard Elementary

TTSD: Only one location of more than 950 tested above EPA 'action level.'

This story has been updated from its original version.

SUBMITTED PHOTO - High radon levels were detected in the cafeteria of Charles F. Tigard Elementary School (pictured here) this spring, the Tigard-Tualatin School District says.The Tigard-Tualatin School District reported this week that it conducted radon tests beginning in April and detected radon levels above the “action level” set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in one location across its campuses and facilities.

The highest individual test level for radon recorded as under the stage in the cafeteria of Charles F. Tigard Elementary School, which came in at 5.3 picocuries per liter (pCi/L) — above the EPA's 4 pCi/L threshold.

“The testing device in the C.F.T. cafeteria was placed under the stage in the storage area where chairs are kept,” TTSD spokeswoman Susan Stark Haydon told The Times in an email Tuesday. “We will be doing another short-term test in the cafeteria itself which should give us a better measure of the air quality where students are actually located.”

The district will also conduct a long-term follow-up test in the fall, Haydon said. Results of the long-term test will be reported next spring, according to a news release.

“We have also begun increasing the airflow into the cafeteria which is one of the recommended ways for mitigating radon,” Haydon added in her email.

The next-highest levels of radon reported were 3.1 pCi/L at James Templeton Elementary School and 2.9 pCi/L at Tualatin High School, according to the results. Both are below the EPA's action level.

Radon is an odorless, colorless gas belonging to the noble gas family of elements. It is a known carcinogen.

Portland Public Schools reported last week it found elevated levels of radon in some of its buildings when it conducted tests this spring.

Oregon law requires all districts to conduct radon testing by January 2021.

Haydon characterized the district's testing this spring as a voluntary measure. She said this was the first radon test that the school district has conducted.

More than 950 classrooms and other occupied spaces on the ground floor of TTSD buildings were tested for radon, according to the school district.

The district also referred community members to an EPA website with additional information about radon.

The full news release is available online.

Editor's note: This story has been updated with additional information from a Tigard-Tualatin School District spokeswoman.

By Mark Miller
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