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.
The End Radon in Schools Act would give states in high-risk radon areas grants to fund tests of radon levels in school buildings. If a school is found to have an unhealthy level of radon, the school would be given funding to remove the threat. Schools awarded grant funding would conduct testing with the assistance of a qualified radon mitigation specialist. Schools would work with a specialist to determine the best way to mitigate possible radon threats.
"Many people don't realize how big the threat from radon gas is here in Iowa," Braley said. "That's why it's critical we do more to ensure students, teachers, and school employees are protected from harmful levels of this dangerous gas. The End Radon in Schools Act will help schools test for radon and remove it from the school environment. These steps will help reduce serious health complications from radon exposure."
Radon is an invisible, tasteless, and odorless gas that is produced by the decay of naturally occurring uranium in soil and water. It is a form of ionizing radiation, a proven carcinogen, and it is the leading cause of lung cancer among non-smokers in the United States. The gas can leak through cracks or holes in foundations or walls of buildings if not properly controlled.
All of Iowa's 99 counties are classified in the "Zone 1" risk level by the Environmental Protection Agency, the highest risk level assigned by the agency. Iowa is the only state other than North Dakota to have the "Zone 1" risk level for all of its counties.
Braley was joined at the state capitol by Justin Huck, member of the American Cancer Society, Gail Orcutt, a lung cancer survivor and former teacher who traces her illness to radon exposure, and Stephanie Langstraad, principal at Prairie City Middle School who is currently battling lung cancer.