Bolton Council has acted on the results of radon tests recently carried out at local schools, as part of routine health and safety assessments.
The Health Protection Agency (HPA) advised the council to install monitors to check radon levels last winter, as part of a national initiative promoted by the Department of Health and the Health and Safety Executive.
The HPA’s analysis of the results found that in one small area of a local school – Highfield Primary School in Farnworth – radon levels needed to be reduced.
As soon as these results were received, Bolton Council worked with the HPA to identify the best measures to take to reduce the radon levels in that area of the school. During the half term break the council carried out the work in line with normal national practice.
Monitoring will continue at the school to ensure radon levels have been reduced. The council has also sent letters to all parents and staff at the school, informing them of the results and the action taken.
Radon is present in all buildings, including homes, and so is breathed in by everyone during their lives. For most UK residents, radon accounts for about half of their total annual radiation dose.
Ruth Philp, Nurse Consultant from the HPA, said: “Radon is a natural, radioactive gas which you cannot see, smell or taste. It comes from a tiny amount of uranium that is found in all rocks and soils but there is nothing unusual about its presence in Bolton – it is present in all parts of the UK.”
Jan Hutchinson, Director of Public Health for Bolton said: “Similar radon levels to those found at this Bolton school have been found in many workplaces – including schools – elsewhere across the country. We are following well-established national procedures to limit risks to staff and pupils, and can assure people that any action needed has been taken.”
Margaret Asquith, Bolton Council’s Director of Children’s Services commented: “As soon as we received the results of these tests, we worked closely with the HPA to implement a programme of works to reduce the radon levels in that area of the school and will be undertaking further monitoring at the school to check that the works have been effective.”
“We’ve also written to all parents and staff explaining the results of the tests and what action we have taken. The HPA have advised us and the headteacher that the school routine should continue, so we would like to reassure parents that all work needed has been carried out and that they can continue to send their child to school as normal.”