DMPS Expands Radon Testing to All District Buildings

Placing a high priority on the importance of a quality environment for students, staff, and community, Des Moines Public Schools has taken one more step in achieving that goal by implementing a plan this year to test for radon in all district facilities. The proactive approach by the district goes above and beyond state and federal requirements.

“With more than 37,000 people coming and going from a DMPS building each day, we want to make sure that we are providing everyone with a safe place to be in every way possible,” said Bill Good, chief operations officer for Des Moines Public Schools. “While we are not required to do radon testing of every school, it is a small step for us to take to provide one more assurance of the environmental safety within our facilities, and to prevent issues before they become a problem.”

Current state and federal regulations require radon testing of school buildings with preschool classrooms. Des Moines Public Schools is now doing radon tests, conducted by professional and licensed testers, in each of its 67 schools and office buildings.

Tests will be performed at all buildings on a revolving three year schedule. This schedule replicates how the district monitors for asbestos. Air samples will be taken by State of Iowa certified radon measurement specialists and all samples will be analyzed by a State of Iowa certified radon laboratory.

If testing reveals radon levels near or above district standards, immediate steps will be taken to remediate the issue based on recommendations by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Minor elevation of levels will be resolved based upon recommendations of a licensed radon mitigation specialist and the district’s environmental consultants.

An example of this new plan in action occurred recently at Cowles Montessori School. When a routine test found levels at the school slightly above the state average, the district responded by ventilating the school and began work on a permanent ventilation system for a utility tunnel underneath the school. The result was an immediate reduction in radon levels with no interruption in classes or activities at the school.

The three-year radon testing schedule for Des Moines Public Schools is as follows:

Callanan, Casady, Central Nutrition Center, Cowles, Hanawalt, Harding, Greenwood, Hubbell, Howe, Lincoln, Park, Roosevelt, Ruby Van Meter, Scavo (Moore), Stowe, Windsor.

Brody, Brubaker, Cattell, Capitol View, Carver, Central Campus, Cowles, Downtown School, East, Edmunds, Findley, Garton, Hoover, Hoyt, Jackson, Jefferson, King, Lovejoy, Madison, McKee, McKinley, Meredith, Mitchell, Monroe, Morris, Moulton, Oak Park, Perkins, Phillips, Pleasant Hill, Smouse, Studebaker, Walker Street, Walnut Street, Weeks, Willard, Woodlawn, Wright. 

Central Academy, Goodrell, Hillis, Lincoln South (Kurtz), McComb, Merrill, North, Operations Center, Prospect Street building, River Woods, Samuelson, South Union.