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Wednesday, June 17th
An annual air-quality check on City Hall in Camas, Washington, revealed elevated levels of radon in an exercise room in the basement of the building. The room was the only one in the building with an actionable level of radon, which the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) defines as 4.0 pCi/L (picocuries of radiation per liter of air).
The exercise room was found to have an average reading of 8.0 pCi/L, double the actionable level. According to the Camas-Washougal Post Record, the room was closed for 11 days in order to allow for improvements to the HVAC system and secondary testing.
The exercise room is primarily used by members of the Camas-Washougal Fire Department, which has a fire station that’s staffed 24/7 attached to the municipal center. Other city employees are also allowed access.
“From the union perspective, our concern has been getting an answer to how long has this been going on, and our potential risk of exposure,” said Michael Coyle, a CWFD Firefighter-Paramedic and the President of the IAFF Local 2444 East Clark Professional Fire Fighters. “At this time, we’re waiting for results on questions about test frequency and risk factors.”
Camas City Hall began radon testing in 2010, and 18 of the 31 areas tested have come back with actionable levels at some point during the testing period. The building underwent a $20,000 ventilation upgrade in 2010, but the system has not completely mitigated radon risks in City Hall.
The EPA recommends annual testing of all rooms in public facilities to ensure that any actionable radon levels are addressed. According to the National Cancer Institute, radon gas is the second leading cause of lung cancer among non-smokers.