The American Association of Radon Scientists and Technologists (AARST) and Cancer Survivors Against Radon are protesting to Congressional budget committees about cuts proposed by EPA for the 2013 budget.
NBC's TODAY SHOW on February 29 featured an Investigative Report by Jeff Rossen that reveals a startling fact: 25 years after the passage of the Indoor Radon Abatement Act as many as 70,000 classrooms in United States may have high levels of the radioactive gas. The problem is that neither school officials nor EPA know which ones they are because no one has tested them. Additionally, many of our nation's schools are unwilling to test for this form of radioactivity because of funding concerns in case they have to fix the problem. Rossen reported that school systems in hot radon zones turned down offers to test their schools due to misinformation and budget concerns.
Radon is a naturally occurring, radioactive gas, and it is the second leading cause of lung cancer, after smoking, in the United States. Radon is the leading cause in nonsmokers. People who have never smoked make up approximately 2,900 of the estimated 21,000 radon-related lung cancer deaths each year.
Even as news of Rossen's report broke, the EPA's budget submission to Congress included cuts to radon awareness funding to our nation's schools, states, tribes and territories.
21,000 Americans die of radon induced lung cancer each year and many of them, similar to Gail Orcutt, a former Iowa school teacher and never-smoker who was featured in Jeff Rossen's story, barely knew about radon gas until they were diagnosed with lung cancer.
Despite authorization by Congress, EPA has never enacted rule making to achieve the primary goal of the Indoor Radon Abatement Act: to lower levels to the natural levels in the outdoor air.
AARST, a professional and scientific organization that receives no federal funding, issued the following statement concerning the budget cuts:
"The abrupt end of funding for the State Indoor Radon Grants and other technical radon support programs at the EPA needs to be re-examined by Congressional budget committees. Lung cancer prevention can save Americans over $200,000 for each illness. AARST protests that there was no forewarning whatsoever that radon awareness and outreach efforts were being turned over to the states and tribes.
There has been no funding for EPA's much touted New Federal Radon Action Plan produced in 2011. Funding for states, tribes, territories and schools needs to be reinstated for an interim period in order that transferring responsibility for the plan from a federal agency to states and tribes can occur on an orderly basis. "
Source: American Association of Radon Scientists & Technologists