Harmful Radon Gas on Radar of 'Proactive' Warrick County Commissioners
Commissioners are taking steps to mitigate the effects of radon in their building at 107 W. Locust St. in Boonville; includes increased air circulation in building at $15,000 in monitoring equipment
Radon is a naturally occurring radioactive gas expelled from the soil that can accumulate in buildings and cause harm after exposure over a lifetime. It’s produced from the decay of uranium in the soil and bedrock.
The Warrick County Commissioners first tested their building for both mold and radon January of 2021, but with delayed action due to no-show contractors.
Now, they’re taking steps to reduce radon exposure for employees and customers. They’ve begun constantly recirculating the air inside the building — prior to this, the air circulator ran for half the day during business hours.
They’re investing about $30,000 in radon-detecting equipment, and new concrete floors downstairs. Radon gas filtures up through the soil, and can accumulate in different levels in different rooms. So, they’re buying 20 radon measuring devices and pouring concrete and sealing the remaining dirt floors.
Commissioner Terry Phillippe estimates the floors will cost $14,000.
After receiving the measurements of radon from through their building, they hired EnviroForensics, an Indianapolis based consulting firm.
“It's not that anybody feels like the employees here are unsafe, far from it,” said Mathew Bono, vice president for the firm. “In fact, they just want to make sure that not only are things Okay, right now they're gonna do everything they can to keep it from becoming a higher level.”
The Commissioners will test the air in each room weekly for the next year, and investigate improvements to air circulation in certain areas of the basement.
Bono said OSHA sets safe working conditions standards for radon.
“But it's all based on as much data as they can collect,” he said. “So for radon in particular, a lot of the data is based on miners who were working underground and actually exposed to a lot of radon and then being able to look back and say how many of these folks actually were developing lung cancer.”
He said there are several factors for contracting lung cancer.
He said radon can occur in new or old buildings, but newer buildings are designed to keep radon out. He added that there’s no requirement for the commission to take steps against radon.
The Warrick County Courthouse which houses the commission and other agencies, was built in 1904.
Bono spoke at a series of meetings to educate county employees and residents Thursday afternoon.
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