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Radon found in Rand Hall

On Wednesday, Feb. 21, Associate Dean of Students and Director of Residence Life Pamela McDowell issued an email statement to residents of Rand Hall regarding a radon test recently conducted in the dormitory.

“Per the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the test result indicates additional testing [must] be performed,” McDowell wrote.

According to the EPA’s help desk website, radon is “an extremely toxic, colorless gas.” McDowell also added that it is a “naturally occurring gas that can be harmful if a person has long-term exposure over a lifetime.”

The EPA also stresses that “radon is the number one cause of lung cancer among non-smokers, according to EPA estimates. Overall, radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer.”

McDowell elaborated on the situation for Rand.

“​The radon levels of the test we received data about indicate that by [EPA] standards we should continue to monitor and do additional testing,” McDowell wrote. “We will be doing additional testing over spring break and the summer.” Director of Environmental Health and Safety Elisabeth Haase reiterated the need for further testing.

“We won’t have a full understanding of the radon levels in Rand Hall until we complete testing at multiple locations around the building,” Haase wrote.

McDowell also detailed the work of the firm hired by the school and the subject of its investigation.

“The firm we are working with explained that multiple dwelling units – like residence halls – have not been the target of testing around radon like single family homes because people only live in them for the school year,” McDowell wrote. “Rand is unique in that it is built more into the side of the hill than other buildings, allowing more contact with the soil. At this time there is not a recommendation to test other buildings on campus. Over spring break we will also be testing a few houses we own where there are bedrooms in the basement. We take our students’ and employees’ safety very seriously and will continue to monitor the situation and review recommendations from the EPA and our consulting firm.”

Haase also provided insight on the weeks ahead regarding Rand residence.

“Prior to spring break, residents of Rand Hall may be contacted regarding procedures to take during the testing phase,” Haase wrote. She also made it clear that although “the testing strategy will follow EPA guidelines for sampling, the EPA will not conduct the tests.”