Radon, a naturally occurring, invisible and odorless radioactive gas, is the second leading cause of lung cancer. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that radon is the number one cause of lung cancer among non-smokers. Avoiding exposure is key to reducing cancer risks.
The EPA has designated many New York counties as high risk for elevated radon levels. A recent Gannett news analysis of K-12 school building condition reports in New York state revealed that close to 2,000 school buildings have not been tested for radon. State, local or neighborhood radon test results cannot predict radon levels in individual buildings. Each building needs its own testing.
The state health department recommends buildings be tested every few years. Unlike in states that require testing of all buildings, public school districts in New York are expected to know whether buildings are located in high risk areas and test accordingly.
NYSUT advises members to contact their local union president or the school health and safety committee to request a radon test or ask about radon testing.
For more information, including where to get radon test kits, visit www.health.ny.gov/environmental/radiological/radon/radon.htm.
— Wendy Hord