Radon Testing in IL Daycare Centers
What is radon?
Radon is a colorless, odorless, tasteless, radioactive gas produced during the natural decay of uranium (an element that occurs in small amounts in rock and soil). As it decays, radon releases radioactive particles and energy into the air.
What health effects are associated with radon?
When radon and radon decay products are inhaled, they can cause damage to the cells and tissues of the lungs, which can lead to lung cancer over the course of a lifetime. Not everyone who is exposed to radon will get lung cancer. The time between exposure and cancer diagnosis may be many years.
Children’s lungs are smaller than adults and they have higher breathing rates; potentially exposing them to higher doses of radiation.
How can people be exposed to radon?
As radon is released from the decay of uranium, it moves through the soil and easily passes through small spaces in a foundation and enters a building. This includes, but is not limited to, floor drains, sump pits, crawl spaces, foundation cracks and gaps around pipes and wires. The type of foundation makes no difference – radon has been measured in buildings with varying foundation styles. Once radon has entered through the lower level spaces it can build up over time reaching harmful levels.
What Illinois law requires radon testing in daycare centers?
As a new addition to the Child Care Act of 1969 (225 ILCS 10), Section 5.8 concerns the regulation of radon testing in licensed daycare centers, daycare homes, and group daycare homes. The first part of this two part section went into effect January 1, 2013, and requires licensed daycare centers, daycare homes, and group daycare homes to test for radon at least once every three years according to the rules established by the Illinois Emergency Management Agency (IEMA).
The second part of Section 5.8 becomes effective January 1, 2014; this part states that all new applications or renewals for a daycare center, daycare home, or group daycare home license must require proof of radon testing within the last three years following the rules established by IEMA.
Section 5.8 also states that facilities must post their current radon measurement next to the Department issued license, and that copies must be provided to parents or guardians upon request.
How do I get my facility tested for radon?
If the daycare facility is a non-residential home, a licensed measurement professional is required to test the facility. A list of Licensed Professionals for Commercial Buildings can be found on the IEMA Division of Nuclear Safety’s radon page. For those who run a home daycare, there are two options for the required radon testing. The first is to use a licensed measurement professional just as the non-residential facilities. The second is to use a radon home test kit. A school has the option of hiring a licensed measurement professional for commercial buildings. If the daycare is licensed under the Illinois School Code, a district employee can complete and pass an online training course developed by IEMA, and perform the radon testing in the daycare within the school.
More information regarding test kits, licensed measurement professionals, and online training courses can be found at IEMA’s radon website,www.radon.illinois.gov, or by calling the radon information hotline at 800-325-1245.
How much will it cost to get my facility tested?
Radon testing with the use of a home test kit can range from $10 to $30 per test. When using a licensed measurement professional, it is estimated that the price can range from $125 to $150 for a residential daycare. Testing a non-residential facility with a licensed measurement professional can range from $500 to $1,500. The cost of testing may vary depending on the size of the facility. The daycare facility is responsible for the cost of testing.
What if the level of radon measured is 4.0 picocuries per liter (pCi/L) or above?
The Child Care Act of 1969 (225 ILCS10) Section 5.8 states that facilities must post their current radon measurement next to the Department issued license, and that copies must be provided to parents or guardians upon request. Mitigation, a process used to reduce radon concentrations, is not required of a daycare facility if levels are above the action level 4.0 pCi/L. However, mitigation is encouraged to reduce exposure to radon of those who occupy the facility. More information about radon mitigation in your county can be found at the Licensed Mitigation Professionals link on the IEMA webpage.