Protecting Iowa Children from Radon Poisoning in Schools
On May 19th, 2020 at the age of 67, Gail Orcutt died of lung cancer. Ms. Orcutt never smoked. This raised some red flags. She learned that radon was most likely the cause of her cancer and ultimate death. For over a decade, Gail championed a bill that would require schools to test for radon and develop a mitigation plan if unsafe levels were found. In May of 2022, close to exactly 2 years later, House File 2412, better known as the Gail Orcutt School Radon Safety bill, was signed into law this week by Governor Reynolds. Read the bill here.
Gail Orcutt was a teacher and the school in which she taught carried extraordinarily high levels of radon.
Gails obituary read, “She worked as a teacher for 33 years in the communities of Waterloo, Norwalk, and Des Moines, Iowa and retired in 2008…
In 2010, Gail was diagnosed with lung cancer. She never smoked and she did not work in a smoking environment. She soon learned from her doctors that radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer. At this time, Gail, being a true educator, began her journey in teaching the public, health care providers, and state legislators about radon and was an advocate for radon testing and mitigation to prevent lung cancer. It’s been Gail’s hope that every Iowan would know that radon is the second-leading cause of lung cancer and that testing and mitigating is a simple home improvement. Dealing with radon is cancer prevention. 5 out of 7 homes in Iowa have an unacceptable level of radon. An acceptable level is 2.0 pC/L or less. A mitigation system can often be paid for with pretax dollars from a flex or HSA account. Test your home with a DIY kit every two years. ”
High-Levels of Radon in Iowa
Zone One Radon Level State by EPA
Iowa leads the nation in the presence of radon. Radon is a colorless, odorless gas produced as radioactive materials, like uranium, breakdown deep beneath the soil.
“The total average indoor radon level in Iowa is 8.5 picocuries per liter (pCi/L) of air, and in the United States it is 1.3 pCi/L of air. Average radon levels of 4 pCi/L are considered elevated, and remediation is recommended. than 50-70%) across Iowa have elevated radon levels.” – EPA / American Lung Association.
Read what the American Lung Association says about the passing of the Gail Orcutt School Radon Safety Bill.
Gail Orcutt was not alone in her story. Maria Steele, front-line health care provider/nurse for 40-plus years, did not smoke either.
“Why my newfound interest in radon? A week before Christmas in 2019, I was diagnosed with Stage 4 lung cancer as a never smoker. Since then, I’ve gone through radiation treatments and take daily medication. I have an amazing health care and oncology team as well as the unending support of family and friends.” ~ Maria Steele
High-Levels of Radon in Kansas & Missouri
Predominately Zone One Radon Level States by EPA
“n abnormally high amount of radioactive gas discovered in a Kansas City elementary school terrified parents who were not alerted to their children’s possible exposure to radon—a chemical linked to lung cancer.” – Newsweek, January, 2018.
In October of 2017, Warford Elementary School was inspected by the Missouri Department of Health. They discovered elevated levels of radon in 27 out of 465 tested rooms. Missouri is a state that offer free radon testing to schools but does not mandate it.
The Kansas Radon Program website states, “A nationwide survey of radon levels in schools estimates that nearly one in five has at least one schoolroom with a short-term radon level above the action level of 4 pCi/L (picoCuries per liter) – the level at which EPA recommends that schools take action to reduce the level. EPA estimates that more than 70,000 schoolrooms in use today have high short-term radon levels.”
There are five states that require radon testing in schools: Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Rhode Island and Virginia…and now Iowa. Radon testing is not presently required in the states of Kansas & Missouri.
Radon Testing is Simple & Inexpensive
The only way to determine if a radon problem exists is to test for it. Having your children’s school tested for radon is something you may want to discuss with your school officials.
Certified Radon offers both long-term and short-term radon testing solutions conducted by a skilled Certified Radon Technician to ensure accuracy. Contact one of our radon measurement technicians today for more information about radon testing and get more information about getting your school tested for radon.