DES MOINES – The Iowa Senate passed a bill last week by a vote of 35-14 that would require Iowa schools to test for the silent killer, radon gas.
Radon is a natural radioactive gas that can cause cancer. Even though you cannot see, smell or taste it, radon is the leading cause of lung cancer in nonsmokers, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.
Senator Amanda Ragan said that the bill is an “effort to keep kids safe”.
“Radon is an especially big problem in Iowa,” Senator Ragan said. “Our state leads the nation in the amount of radon in our soil. The average indoor radon concentration in Iowa is more than six times the national average. Radon-induced cancer causes an estimated 400 deaths per year in Iowa.”
The bill would require school districts to test for the presence of radon and report radon levels to the Iowa Department of Public Health, and then post those results to its website.
“Currently, childcare centers in Iowa must test for radon within one year of licensing or renewal and every two years following the initial test,” Sen. Ragan explained.
Sentor Matt McCoy of Des Moines called the bill “weak” because it does not require schools to repair buildings with high levels of radon.
Sen. McCoy said that the cost for radon testing in a typical school building ranges from $500 to $1,500.
“It is a price worth paying for the health and safety of our kids,” he said.