The average public high school in the US has a student body of 526. Beyond being conducive to success, these environments must keep children safe. Some threats that might oppose this, like radon, are invisible. Emerging from radioactive decay in the soil, this gas can become trapped in buildings and put individuals at risk for lung cancer. An American National Standard, ANSI/AARST MALB-2014, outlines a protocol for conducting radon measurements in schools, as well as large buildings.
Radon in Schools
Radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer, contributing to 21,000 deaths each year. In the 1950s, studies confirmed these effects in mineworkers, and, by the 1980s, experts knew that nearly everyone is susceptible to radon exposure through the entry of the soil gas into homes. This led to the Indoor Radon Abatement Act of 1988 and corresponding recommendation by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Surgeon General that all homes be tested for radon.
Radon exposure, whether at home, work, or school, compounds over time to increase one’s risk to lung cancer. Therefore, it is essential to measure radon in commonly frequented places outside of the home. The EPA has advised all US schools to test for radon and to reduce levels to below 4 pCi/L.
About the MALB Standard
ANSI/AARST MALB-2014 is designated “MALB” for Measurement of Air in School and Buildings. The American National Standard specifies procedures and minimum requirements when measuring radon concentrations of schools and large commercial buildings.
It is applicable to occupancies for religious and educational purposes through the 12th grade, day care facilities, university facilities, high-hazard occupancies, institutional occupancies, mercantile occupancies, factory occupancies, and assembly occupancies for civic, social, or religious functions. The MALB standard also applies to some residential occupancies, such as dormitories.
ANSI/AARST MALB-2014 addresses procedures that can be used to test entire low-rise and high-rise buildings, but it also addresses testing for one or several individual rooms or dwellings. It outlines numerous testing locations, such as upper floors and ground-contact locations. The document also addresses what to consider before you test, the testing requirements themselves, test conditions, test reports, and extensive supporting information and guidance.
2021 Revision to ANSI/AARST MALB-2014
The current edition of the standard for radon testing in schools was released in 2014, but a revision was made to the document in January 2021, hence its current designation as ANSI/AARST MALB-2014 rev.1-21. This update better harmonizes provisions between ANSI/AARST MALB and another standard, ANSI/AARST MAMF. It features an attached Companion Guidance document, which can be found at the end of ANSI/AARST MALB-2014 rev.1-21. The Companion Guidance features five informative sections:
- Introduction to Radon
- Guidance for Building Managers
- Descriptions of Test Devices
- Chain of Custody
- Calculating Average Building Operating Conditions
ANSI/AARST MALB-2014 rev.1-21: Protocol For Conducting Measurements Of Radon And Radon Decay Products In Schools And Large Buildings is available on the ANSI Webstore.
Radon Mitigation Standards
Of course, radon exposure is a threat in all buildings, so it is essential to test for radon in homes and multifamily buildings. These tests are the focus of American National Standards published by the American Association of Radon Scientists and Technologists (AARST), an ANSI-accredited standards developing organization. AARST standards cover a range of protocols and requirements for radon mitigation and testing, including installing radon and soil gas control systems in new buildings and quality assurance of radon measurement systems.