Illinois Daycare Centers and Radon

Radon testing in a daycare center is important for knowing how safe the indoor environment is for the children.  When you drop off your kids, the natural assumption is that the facility is safe. We presume that the workers are properly trained. We assume that all measures are in place to ensure the protection of your children.  Daycares in Illinois are licensed by the state. It is assumed that every precaution has been made to make sure the children are in a safe and healthy environment.

But what if they are not?

New Radon Requirements in 2013

As recently as 2013, there was an addition to the Child Care Act of 1969 (Section 5.8). This requires licensed daycare centers, daycare homes, and group daycare homes to have radon testing once every three years.  This must be in accordance with the rules set down by the Illinois Emergency Management Agency (IEMA).

The second part of Section 5.8 became effective as of January 1, 2014. This stated that all applicants for new or those renewing old licenses for daycare centers, home daycares, or group daycare homes have proof of radon testing within the last three years.

Who can do the radon testing of daycares in Illinois?

If the daycare in Illinois is located in a commercial building (i.e. a non-residential property), the state requires that only a licensed measurement professional can perform a radon test.  In order to test a daycare, the IEMA (Illinois Emergency Management Agency) requires a special commercial building endorsement for professionals to perform the measurement.   These individuals must provide their license applications to the state in accordance with 32 Illinois Administrative Code 422 for the performance of school and commercial building radon measurements.   Be sure to verify that the measurement professional is approved by the State of Illinois to test the radon. 1

What happens after the radon test of a daycare?

The goal for the daycare is to have their radon levels below 4.0 Picocuries.  Interestingly, if a daycare in Illinois has results that exceed this number, it doesn’t mean that they have to shut down.  They don’t even have to install a mitigation system! What it does mean is that they need to report to the State of Illinois that testing was performed.  The daycare must also post the results of their current test next to their state-issued license. This is important because children have smaller lungs and higher breathing rates than adults. This could expose them to greater doses of radiation.2

When interviewing a prospective daycare, we recommend verifying that the radon levels are publicly posted. This is required by state law.  If you don’t see anything posted, be certain to ask for a copy of the report. Radon levels can fluctuate from season to season. As a building ages, cracks can develop which could allow for this gas to more easily enter into a building.  Keep in mind that just because a daycare passed five years ago, does not necessarily mean that it is safe now.  

Where radon testing of daycares must be performed

Daycares must test individual classrooms and collect one sample for every 2,000 square feet of open area.  Bathrooms, closets, and kitchens don’t need to be tested. Testing in a basement must be performed if that area is a part of the daycare where children or workers will be present.  If the daycare has two stories, testing must be performed in all classrooms and work areas.

Conclusion 

The health and safety of children are a high priority for any parent.  Make certain that their daycare is safe. Also, if you are the operator of a daycare, be sure to use a radon professional who has the training, equipment, and correct licensing to ensure that the measurements are performed correctly.

  1. https://www2.illinois.gov/iema/NRS/Radon/Pages/RealEstate.aspx
  2. http://dph.illinois.gov/topics-services/environmental-health-protection/toxicology/radon-testing
Scott Wieringa

Scott Wieringa

Scott Wieringa is a Senior Project Manager that performs indoor air quality assessments with a specialty in radon and odors. Mr. Wieringa holds a Bachelors of Arts degree from Calvin College. He is an ACAC Council-Certified Indoor Environmentalist (CIE) and Illinois Licensed Radon Professional with residential and commercial building endorsements. Prior to working at Indoor Science, Scott was a residential real estate appraiser with over 23 years of experience inspecting properties in varying capacities. In his words… “I have a special interest in helping clients track down how their homes or businesses might be making them sick. In my spare time, I’m involved in song writing, sketching and spending time with my family.”

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