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Watchdog Report: Is your school free of radon?

Only a test can find it, yet schools go untested

Radon, an invisible killer, has gone undetected in more than half of New York’s school buildings because testing for the naturally occurring gas is not required.

A analysis by Central New York Media Group of the most recent school building condition reports at the state Education Department found the reports indicate that 1,832 school buildings have not been tested for radon.

More than 400 of those buildings are in 34 counties designated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency as having high potential for elevated indoor radon levels, according to the newspaper’s analysis of the condition reports for 3,136 public school buildings outside of New York City.

The presence of untested school buildings in potentially high-radon areas runs counter to long-standing advice of public health experts and the EPA.

“Definitely, schools should be tested,” said William Angell, a University of Minnesota professor who chairs the World Health Organization’s Radon Prevention and Mitigation Working Group. “For more than 20 years, there has been a clear recommendation for schools to test for radon.”

Radon is the nation’s second-leading cause of lung cancer deaths after smoking. The gas is odorless, tasteless and invisible – it can be detected only by testing.

Unlike other states with high-radon areas, New York laws and regulations do not require testing in schools.

Under New York’s education regulations, the only responsibility school districts have is “to be aware of the geological potential for high levels of radon and to test and mitigate as appropriate. "In the absence of a legal requirement, many school districts — even in EPA-designated high-potential radon areas like the Southern Tier — are not taking responsibility for testing, according to the reports filed with the state.

Read the full article online: http://www.pressconnects.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2014303300039&nclick_check=1