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Iowa

National Radon Action Month

PLANE CRASHES; 400 IOWANS KILLED. This headline would cause an investigation, yet every year approximately 400 Iowans die from radon-induced lung cancer, and few seem to notice.

Radon is a colorless, odorless, radioactive gas. It comes from the natural breakdown (radioactive decay) of uranium in the soil left behind by glaciers. Iowa has the highest incidence of radon in the country.

The Surgeon General warns that radon is the second-leading cause of lung cancer. According to the Iowa Department of Public Health, five out of seven homes have an unacceptable level of radon.

The average radon concentration in every Iowa county is above the EPA action level of 4.0pCi/L. Since radon levels aren’t constant, every home (no matter the kind of foundation or age of the home) should be tested at least every two years. Testing is the only way to know a radon level. There is no immediate symptom that will alert you to the presence of radon.

Radon: A Silent Threat in Iowa—Free Workshop

QUASQUETON – Buchanan County ISU Extension and Outreach has partnered with Buchanan County Environmental Health and Zoning, and Midwest Systems to offer a FREE public RADON workshop.

Did you know 71.6% of Iowa tested homes have radon above the US Environmental Protection Agency’s action level? This is the highest in the US (5 out of 7).

To learn about RADON, how to test your home, and what to do once your results are in; attend the FREE RADON Workshop on Wednesday, Feb. 7, from 7 to 8:30 p.m. at the Quasqueton City Hall (113 Water St N, Quasqueton). Speakers are Matt Even (Buchanan County Environmental Health and Zoning), Roxanne Fuller (Buchanan County ISU Extension and Outreach), and RADON Mitigation Contractor, Matt Griswold.

Learn more and continue reading here.

High radon levels in Iowa homes 'surprise' University of Iowa researchers

IOWA CITY, Iowa — You can't see it, you can't smell it, but it causes cancer. It's radon, and a recent study by the University of Iowa suggests it can be found at higher than recommended levels in many Iowa homes.

Radon is a naturally-occurring radioactive gas caused by the uranium in the Earth's crust. It can be found in concentrated levels, often in the lower levels of homes. According to state officials, it's the second leading cause of lung cancer in the nation.

The UI study was conducted in 2013 and published last month. Researchers tested more than 350 homes in the small northwest Iowa town of Akron.

Learn more here.

Senate panel OKs plan for more radon prevention in new homes

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Builders in Iowa would be required to install radon mitigation systems in new homes under legislation that has won approval in an Iowa Senate committee.

The bill moved out of the State Government Committee on Wednesday. Under the proposal, new homes must be built with radon mitigation pipes. If the homeowner discovers radon, they can add a fan to use the system.

Radon is a colorless, odorless gas that can leak through cracks in building foundations. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency calls radon the second-leading cause of lung cancer in the U.S. The agency also says Iowa's 99 counties are in the agency's highest risk zone for exposure.

A similar bill was approved by the Democratic-majority Senate two years ago but failed to advance in the Republican-controlled House.

Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

On the Ground in Warren County, IA

We are wrapping up Warren County's three-month long Radon Grant by distributing 180 short term radon kits to the general public to Warren County residents. We then received the results from most of those radon kits and sent follow-up letters to those with high results over 4 picocuries per liter. Some called and discussed the next step in the process and then directed to procedures of the Iowa Department of Public Health and a list of certified radon mitigators.

Networking for Radon Awareness in Winnebago County

Winnebago County, Iowa does a lot to make the public aware of the hidden dangers of radon. Each year we print articles in the local newspapers and distribute public service announcements to the local radio station. Last year we partnered with a local farmers coop to give out 300 free radon test kits. This year we obtained a radon grant to give out 180 free radon test kits. We gave them to county schools and their staff. We also tested Waldorf College dorms, Day care centers, Public Health staff, and Mosaic. We also partnered with the local YMCA and the 3M manufacturing company to make employees aware of the risks posed by radon. 3M is also giving employees free radon kits.

I have held informational meetings with the public, Public Health staff, YMCA, 3M employees and people who have high radon levels in their homes.

Iowa legislation requiring radon testing in schools advances

Public school districts would be required to test buildings for radon and mitigate any high levels under pending House legislation.

The bill approved Thursday by a House Education subcommittee would require schools test their facilities for radon by 2025 and once every 10 years after or following any construction, renovations or repairs.

If levels of the cancer-causing gas are found at or above 4 picocuries per liter, schools would have to conduct a second round of testing with a person certified to test and determine mitigation efforts to bring levels below EPA recommended levels. The legislation allows plant and physical equipment levy funds to be used for radon testing and mitigation.

Radon is a naturally occurring gas found in soil, and Iowa is known to have high levels of the gas. Gail Orcutt, 60, a retired teacher from Pleasant Hill and radon-induced lung cancer survivor, said the bill addresses a serious problem that has a simple solution.

Iowa Senate Says Schools Should Test for Radon

Schools would be required to test for radon, a colorless, odorless gas that can leak through cracks in building foundations, under legislation that passed the Iowa Senate on Wednesday.

The measure won bipartisan support, passing through Senate 37-13. It now moves to the House.

The bill would require public and private schools to test for the gas and install a system to expel it from buildings. It also would require residential construction companies to install pipes to extract the gas from homes built after Jan. 1, 2015.

Bill sponsor Sen. Matt McCoy, D-Des Moines, said it would be negligent for lawmakers to do nothing to protect Iowa residents from radon.

Hubbell to Put Radon Mitigation System in Homes

Hubbell’s new homes will come standard with a passive radon mitigation system to help protect families threatened by the deadly gas.

The West Des Moines developer’s move could push other homebuilders to provide the system that’s used to rid homes of the naturally occurring radioactive gas, said Rick Welke, a radon program manager at the Iowa Department of Public Health.

Radon — a colorless, odorless gas that’s produced from the breakdown of uranium in the earth — is the leading cause of lung cancer among nonsmokers, Welke said. Radon is prevalent in the state, “where over half of Iowa homes test above the EPA action level,” he said.

Building the mitigation system into Hubbell homes will help reduce costs for families that find radon is occurring above federally accepted standards, Welke said. Fans are added to existing mitigation systems to actively eliminate radon from a home.

Iowa Lacks Guidelines to Track Radon in Schools

Iowa Lacks Guidelines to Track Radon in Schools

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa - Look both ways before you cross the street. Tell a teacher if someone bullies you. Sit quietly while you ride the bus. There’s a long list of warnings out there to help kids protect themselves from potential school dangers.

One that is far less common is, “Be careful, you might be inhaling radon.” After all, how do you protect people from something that has no smell, color or taste?

“It’s a gas that’s going to take the route of least resistance,” said Dr. Chuck Lynch, a professor in the department of epidemiology in the University of Iowa’s College of Public Health.

The Environmental Protection Agency has classified all 99 of Iowa’s counties in Zone 1, meaning they have the highest potential for indoor radon concentrations above 4 picocuries per liter, even though the agency maintains that “there is no known safe level of exposure to radon.”