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Iowa House passes school radon bill with no testing

An Iowa House turned legislation mandating schools test for radon gas, which is believed to be a leading cause of lung cancer, into a “toothless tiger” Wednesday, according to the bill’s Senate floor manager.

An amendment unanimously approved by the House Local Government Committee makes the bill “virtually meaningless,” Sen. Matt McCoy, D-Des Moines, said.

The amendment stripped provisions that would require schools to perform a short-term test for radon gas at each school by June 30, 2025, and at least once every 10 years thereafter. The Legislative Services Agency estimated that cost to be $1.9 million, which House floor manager Rep. Matt Windschitl, R-Missouri Valley, said was based on “educated guesses.”

McCoy’s bill, approved by the Senate 37-10 a year ago, also proscribed a course of remediation if the tests showed radon gas at or above four picocuries per liter and further testing.

Iowa Poll: Iowans think school districts should test for radon gas

Iowans sounded off on a range of issues under discussion by lawmakers this year for The Des Moines Register’s latest Iowa Poll, revealing widely shared views on several matters. Substantial majorities, for instance, support enhanced enforcement of the state’s ban on texting while driving and favor expanded access to state-funded preschool. Iowans are more divided about ending dog racing at casinos in the state.

Radon testing

RESULTS: Seventy-one percent of Iowans favor requiring schools to test for radon and take steps to reduce it if necessary.

ISSUE: Radon, a radioactive gas that occurs naturally in soil, is believed to be the No.2 cause of lung cancer behind smoking. Lawmakers are considering requiring school districts to test their buildings for the gas and to take action to reduce levels in structures with high concentrations.

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.

Study of Environmental Exposure to Cancer-Causing Agents in West Salem Almost Ready for Release

Did environmental exposure cause bone cancer in at least five West Salem children?

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is completing a preliminary site assessment at five locations in West Salem to try to answer that question.

Officials expect to release their report in the first or second week of December, EPA spokesman Mark MacIntyre said.

The study is in response to demands from the public after 17-year-old West Salem High School student Lisa Harder died in November 2012. She was diagnosed with osteosarcoma in 2009.

At least four other West Salem youths have been diagnosed with the same type of bone cancer in recent years.

Last November, residents gathered more than a thousand signatures on two petitions asking the EPA to investigate the string of cancer cases. In December the agency agreed.

Bill Would Require Iowa Schools to Test for Radon

Bill Would Require Iowa Schools to Test for Radon

DES MOINES -- A Des Moines legislator is backing a bill requiring all Iowa school districts to test for the cancer-causing gas radon and make buildings safe if the gas is found.

Democratic Sen. Matt McCoy filed the bill this week, noting the prevalence of radon in Iowa. All of Iowa's 99 counties lie in the EPA's highest risk zone for exposure to the colorless, odorless gas that leaks through cracks in building foundations.

Radon is the second-leading cause of lung cancer in the United States.

"We have to get serious that Iowa is a high-risk state," McCoy said. "We can't ignore it any longer."

The bill is similar to national legislation filed recently by Iowa Democratic U.S. Rep. Bruce Braley.

McCoy's proposal would require all public and nonpublic districts to test every room of each school. If high levels of radon are found, districts would have to hire a state-certified specialist who would install a ventilation system to make buildings safe.

Briggs Wants Testing for Radon Gas in Schools

State Rep. Tim Briggs, D-Montgomery, is reintroducing legislation that would require radon testing in schools, as well as educate and inform parents and guardians of the levels of radon gas in their child’s classroom.

Briggs said the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection is doing public outreach this month as part of National Radon Action Month, warning residents about the dangers of radon gas. He said his legislation calling for school testing matches DEP Secretary Mike Krancer’s message to homeowners – that radon gas is present in nearly half of all Pennsylvania homes; that it can be deadly; that everyone needs to test their homes for radon; and that a radon problem can be "easily and inexpensively" fixed.

Braley Announces Renewal of Effort to End Radon in America’s Schools

Braley Announces Renewal of Effort to End Radon in America’s Schools

Des Moines, IA – Rep. Bruce Braley (IA-01) today joined members of the American Cancer Society and the Iowa-based Radon Coalition at the Iowa State Capitol to announce the renewal of a legislative effort to end the threat of radon gas in America’s schools.

Last September, Braley introduced the End Radon in Schools Act, legislation that will protect students, teachers, and school employees from dangerous levels of radiation in schools. Braley will re-introduce the legislation in the US House on Tuesday morning – the first bill Braley will introduce in the newly convened 113th Congress.

Iowa Homes at Higher Risk for Elevated Radon Levels

Iowa Homes at Higher Risk for Elevated Radon Levels

It's silent. It's invisible. It sneaks into homes, often through basements, and kills hundreds of Iowans each year. But it's not some mythical predator; it's a gas.

As uranium deposits in the soil breakdown, they produce radon. When inhaled, particles of the colorless, odorless, tasteless gas continue their radioactive decay, which can cause lung cancer and other health problems.

January is National Radon Action Month.

William Field, a University of Iowa Public Health professor who specializes in radon, said the gas is the leading environmental cause of cancer death in the United States.

"Most homes are not built radon resistant," Field said. "It can move into the home through cracks in the foundation."

Dr. Joseph Merchant, an oncologist with the McFarland Clinic and Marshalltown Medical & Surgical Center, said he has no doubt that many non-smokers who develop lung cancer do so because of radon exposure.

NC Makes New Push for Radon Testing in Schools

Radon Tests Mandatory in Illinois Daycares

FOX 18 : KLJB/KGCW – Quad Cities: Davenport, Bettendorf,

As part of many new Illinois laws, radon testing is now required in daycare centers.

It's only required once every three years and the cost of the test depends on the size of the day care center.

"there are some good things about it," P & J Tender Care administrative director Debbie Case. "we are going to have that done and people will feel more secure knowing that it's not a health risk that we have in our centers."