News: Officials address indoor air quality
KADENA AIR BASE, Japan - The Kadena Housing Office provided information and addressed military family questions about indoor air quality and radon gas at a meeting at the Schilling Community Center Jan. 13. The meeting was the first of a series of planned open house discussions with military housing families at installations across Okinawa.
During the meeting, Col. Brian Duffy, 18th Civil Engineer Group commander; Col. Richard Baker, 18th Aerospace Medicine Squadron commander; and military health and environmental professionals on-island shared facts about radon, a naturally-emitted gas, and details on the surveys that have been performed in on-base military family homes in Okinawa over the past two decades.
“We’ve had a very active radon surveying, screening, and response program in Okinawa Military Family Housing for a very long time. While radon gas occurs naturally, we sample indoor radon gas because high levels can impact our health over time. We are committed to continuing our education campaign and ensuring residents are informed about how we protect the air quality within their homes,” Duffy said.
The colonel said the Kadena Housing Office has conducted more than 14,000 radon gas samples in 8,325 homes island-wide since 1991. Most recently, in Nov. 2011, contractors hired by the 718th Civil Engineer Squadron tested 667 base homes island-wide for the naturally-emitted gas.
Approximately 100 homes require response actions.
The 718th CES officials delivered memos to affected residents, describing the process to reduce indoor radon levels. The three-step process includes sampling air quality within the home; actions to reduce radon gas, most likely through the installation of a home ventilation system; and a reassessment to ensure the actions are protective. Additionally, officials offered each resident the option to relocate within 30 days after the notification.
“My family and I live in base housing, and I want to assure all our on-base housing families that we are committed to protecting indoor air quality, listening to their comments, and keeping them informed,” said Baker.
The 718th CES, which manages more than 8,000 housing units for all U.S. military branches on island, is working hand-in-hand with its sister service counterparts to educate all military base families in Okinawa.
“We want to educate all housing residents so that they understand our actions and can assist us,” said Lt. Col. Ann Birchard, 718th CES commander.
The Kadena Housing Office is also working to schedule discussions at other installations with military family housing. Residents are encouraged to attend the meetings if they have any questions about air quality within their homes.
Base residents who have questions regarding radon health risks can contact the 18th AMDS Bioenvironmental Engineering office at DSN 634-4752.