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Many Indiana schools skip testing for cancer-causing gas but lawmaker aims to require radon testing

State Rep. Mike Andrade, D-Munster, filed House Bill 1252 which would require public schools to test the lowest level of their buildings for radon by 2027
Posted at 5:01 PM, Jan 22, 2024
and last updated 2024-01-22 18:15:12-05

INDIANAPOLIS— For the fourth year in a row, a state lawmaker is pushing the state to require Indiana schools to test for a cancer-causing gas called radon.

Radon is the number one cause of lung cancer among nonsmokers.

WRTV Investigates has been tracking radon in schools since 2018 and found most schools have not tested for radon in the last decade, despite EPA recommendations to test at least every five years.

State Rep. Mike Andrade, D-Munster, filed House Bill 1252 which would require public schools to test the lowest level of their buildings for radon by 2027 and report the results to the Indiana Department of Health.

Currently, Indiana does not require schools to test for radon.

 “That should be concerning to all of us,” said Andrade.

Rep. Mike Andrade
Rep. Mike Andrade

This is the 4th year he’s filed this bill.

Part of the problem is radon is odorless, colorless, and tasteless and most people don’t know they’ve been exposed until later in life.

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Also, Andrade is a Democrat in a legislature that has a Republican majority.

“This bill is to find solutions when it comes to radon gas,” said Andrade. “This should be a bipartisan issue that affects all of us because we all have children or family members that we send to the schools."

Right now, at least nine states have some sort of requirement for schools to test for radon—Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Iowa, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia and West Virginia, according to the American Association of Radon Scientists & Technologists 2022 Radon Report Card.

Andrade said federal funds are available to help Indiana schools pay for testing and remediation.

WRTV Investigates has been covering this issue for six years.

In 2018, we spoke with Annie Cacciato who had stage four lung cancer from radon.

Annie Cacciato died in 2021 from lung cancer

"You can prevent this for your family and that's why I’m here to talk about it,” said Cacciato. “It’s preventable."

Following her diagnosis, Cacciato learned her workplace and high school contained toxic levels of radon.

The EPA estimates one in five schools has a classroom with dangerous levels of the gas.

“There are thousands of children in schools right now breathing in air day after day that is damaging their lungs,” said Cacciato.

Cacciato continued to advocate for radon testing until she succumbed to cancer in 2021.

Rep. Mike Andrade says his legislation would save lives, including children and teachers who spend more than seven hours a day inside schools.

"It has to do with the health of our children and our educators,” said Andrade. “When it comes to that, it shouldn't be something we should think about. It should be a priority.”

The bill has been assigned to the House Education Committee.

The Indiana Statehouse in Downtown Indianapolis

It has not yet received a hearing.

The average indoor radon level in Marion County is 4.6 pCi/L – that is equal to more than 200 chest X-rays a year or smoking 9 cigarettes daily.

If you want to test your home, many health departments are giving out tests for free.

In Marion County, call 317-221-2266 or visit here.

To purchase a low-cost radon short term or long term test kit, visit the American Lung Association