Common Sense: Radon Testing and Remediation in PA Schools

West Virginia tests their schools for radon, why not Pennsylvania?

Reporters Deb Erdley and Megan Tomasic wrote a story in the TRIB on Sunday October 9, 2022, Some say radon legislation in Pa. comes down to politics; others say it’s the money. That story was backed up by a TRIB editorial the same day, Editorial: Pennsylvania needs to test schools for radon.

An October 9th feature story was also written, RADON RISKS – For children, the concern over the odorless gas outweigh that for adults.

Fontana said he is frustrated that, year after year, bills mandating school testing gain no support despite federal warnings that Pennsylvania has the nation’s third-highest level of the radioactive gas in its soil. In the past decade, at least five bills requiring testing in schools have been introduced in the state House and then shifted to committee, where they languished without a hearing or committee vote, records show. Hesitation to pass those bills comes as an estimated 21,000 Americans — 1,400 in Pennsylvania — die each year because of exposure to the naturally occurring colorless, odorless gas that makes its way into basements through virtually any opening, according to the American Lung Association.

Some say radon legislation in Pa. comes down to politics; others say it’s the money | TRIBLive | October 9, 2022

“Great legislation means nothing when the majority party blocks Democratic bills left and right.”

William Gelgot, Spokesman for Sen. Christine Tartaglione
Republicans have controlled the PA Legislature for 23 of the past 27 years
BACKGROUND: Radon is the second-leading cause of lung cancer worldwide.

Most indoor exposure occurs by diffusion of soil gas.
Radon is also found in well water, natural gas and ambient air.
Pennsylvania has high indoor radon concentrations;
buildings are often tested during real estate transactions
with results reported to the Department of Environmental Protection

The development of unconventional natural gas in the Marcellus shale in Pennsylvania has the potential to exacerbate several pathways for entry of radon into buildings.

“The last time I checked this year, 0% of bills introduced by Democrats had passed.”

Carol Kuniholm, activist with Pennsylvania’s League of Women Voters
only about 1.5% of Democratic bills introduced in the House have passed in recent years
Pennsylvania Senate Bill 205

“For 13 years, 180 days a year, your kids can be in a government building that the state doesn’t require to be tested for something deadly. Pennsylvania finds things to do with money every year that might seem important to the people lobbying for the funds. They are, no doubt, good ideas and valuable projects. But are any of them as important as not giving kids cancer? The state Legislature needs to pass the requirement and find the funding.”

Editorial: Pennsylvania needs to test schools for radon | TRIBLive | October 9, 2022
Pennsylvania House Bill 790

“The way radon works when it gets in the body is it damages DNA, and so that’s why radon is associated with cancer, especially lung cancer. “It takes many years and even decades for that cancer to occur and for those people to be diagnosed.”

Dr. Ned Ketyer, pediatrician with the Allegheny Health Network




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