The Fairfax County school system has released preliminary results of radon testing at West Springfield Elementary School that reaffirm the presence of potentially harmful levels of the naturally occurring gas.
"We know we've got a problem," school spokeswoman Dolores Bohen said yesterday. Bohen said further testing will be conducted to help develop a plan to combat the problem in the immediate future.
Environmental Protection Agency officials recommend that corrective action be taken if the radon level is over four picocuries, but they have said there is no cause for immediate action unless the level registers above 200 picocuries.
The results released last week show that in the classroom that registered the highest reading -- 21.9 picocuries -- in previous testing by the PTA, the school's monitor showed a range from 4.4 to 18.6 over a three-day period. The PTA tests last month found high levels of the radioactive gas in seven classrooms.
PTA President Judy Pensabene said yesterday that a group of parents will ask school officials next week to remove their children from the classrooms until the problem is solved.
Radon is considered by health officials to be the leading cause of lung cancer among nonsmokers. One classroom tested at levels equivalent to smoking about two packs of cigarettes a day, according to federal guidelines.
"I think I would be remiss as a parent if I let him go back into that room," said Joanne Swick, whose son is a sixth grader at West Springfield. "I wouldn't kiss him goodbye, give him a pack of cigarettes and say, 'Have a nice day.' "