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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.

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.”

Braley Proposes Radon Mitigation, Testing Bill

State and local officials applauded a bill introduced by an Iowa congressman Thursday aimed at detecting and ending the present problem of radon exposure in Iowa schools.

Rep. Bruce Braley, D-Iowa, introduced the End Radon in Schools Act Thursday. The bill, if passed, would “protect students, teachers, and school employees from high levels of radon in schools,” according to a press release from Braley’s office.

“We need to ensure that our schools are safe from unacceptable levels of this harmful gas,” he said in the press release. “You cannot see, taste, or smell radon, but it poses a real risk to Iowans. Iowa has one of the highest levels of radon radiation in the country, and I introduced this legislation to ensure that Iowa kids, teachers, and employees are safe from harmful levels of radon when they go to school.”

Radon is an odorless and tasteless gas that is produced by the decaying of uranium that occurs naturally in both water and soil.