Parents told ‘no cause for concern’ after radioactive gas alert at five Sheffield schools

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PARENTS have been told not to panic after higher than acceptable levels of radon gas were found at five infant and primary schools.

Sheffield Council said extraction equipment would be fitted “as soon as possible” after tests were carried out across the city.

Officials said radon was “naturally occurring” but said steps were being taken to reduce high concentrations of the substance.

Radon, which is radioactive, poses a risk to health when people are exposed to high concentrations for extended periods.

According to the Health and Safety Executive, breathing in radon is the second largest cause of lung cancer in the UK resulting in up to 2,000 fatal cancers per year.

Sheffield Council said it had found problems at Ecclesall Infants, Totley Primary, Birley Primary, Birley Spa Primary and Westways Primary.

The radon issue was detected after the council undertook statutory tests under the Government’s Radon in Schools programme.

The extraction equipment is being installed at the request of the Health Protection Agency (HPA).

Its spokesman, Neil McColl, said: “Parts of South Yorkshire and Derbyshire are, like many other parts of the country, affected by higher than average levels of radon,

“The HPA believes the steps planned by Sheffield City Council to reduce levels will minimise risks from radon in these schools.”

The council said the risk from exposure in schools was “low overall” because of air circulation, doors opening regularly and the “relatively short amount of time children actually spend there”.

John Doyle, of Sheffield Council, said: “The HPA has advised us, and the head teachers, that the school routine should and will continue as normal.

“We are working closely with head teachers to make sure all families affected have access to the right information, and there is no need for concern.”

Coun Jackie Drayton, Sheffield Council’s cabinet member for children, young people and families, added: “The wellbeing of our pupils and staff is vital.

“The decision to install extraction equipment has been taken in line with established and national best practice, for the continued safety of our schools.”