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radon mitigation in Iowa

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.

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'No one should get lung cancer from radon'

'No one should get lung cancer from radon'

A two-year lung cancer survivor, Gail Orcutt has shared her story many times, with one unexpected detail — she’s never smoked. Her cancer was attributed to prolonged exposure to radon — a colorless, odorless, tasteless radioactive gas produced from the decay of naturally occurring uranium in the soil.

“Iowans are in so much danger, and they don’t know it,” Orcutt said. “This has got to be the most preventable type of cancer there is. No one should get lung cancer from radon.”

Orcutt was diagnosed in May 2010 after suffering a cough and wheeze believed to be from allergies. Secondhand smoke was one cause physicians considered until Orcutt read a magazine article about radon. That led her to test her Pleasant Hill home.

The results came back at 6.9 pCi/L. The Environmental Protection Agency recommends homes with levels above 4 install radon-mitigation systems. In Iowa, seven of 10 homes have levels above that — the highest in the U.S.

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.