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Radon laws lacking in Kentuckiana

Although several surrounding states have laws to require testing in schools, where children and their teachers and staff gather and breathe in the air several hours per day, Kentucky and Indiana have nothing on the books.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WHAS11) —Despite being an odorless, tasteless, and invisible radioactive gas, the majority of Kentuckiana lawmakers have yet to see the need to require testing for it.

Both Kentucky and Indiana are considered hotbeds for radon due to the high-risk potential coming from the bedrock right beneath our feet.

Radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer.

“It’s radiation that people are breathing,” Dr. Ellen Hahn of the University of Kentucky’s Breathe research team said.

Although several surrounding states have laws to require testing in schools, where children and their teachers and staff gather and breathe in the air several hours per day, Kentucky and Indiana have nothing on the books.

“To me, it’s a slam dunk,” State Rep. Steve Riggs (D) said.

Find a test kit.

Riggs identifies himself as the forefather of radon legislation in Kentucky, but concedes little to nothing has been done to pass a law requiring testing in schools.

RELATED | Kentuckiana schools failing to test for radon

“The fear on their mind evidently that they don’t want to go through that expense,” Riggs said. “And that’s why government needs to require it.”

Perhaps baby-steps toward a school law is a proposal for daycares.

“We’ve actually had a daycare bill for the last two sessions,” State Senator Julie Raque Adams (R) pointed out.

RELATED | Interactive Radon Map

The bill hasn’t gotten very far, not even making it out of committee.

“The bottom line really is cost, how much does this cost?” Raque Adams said.

It’s been less than two years since Baker’s Learning Center opened in Louisville and its owner and operator says she finally feels like the business is succeeding.

Brittany Baker can see why other owners would be resistant to a law requiring daycares to test for radon.

QUIZ: What do you know about radon?

“People to come out of their pocket for stuff, there’s always going to be pushback,” Baker said.

She, like so many others, never heard of radon until the iTeam made her aware.

Baker said she would be willing to test voluntarily and she did last week.

“I’m afraid, but I’d rather know about it.”

If there are high levels, at or above the EPA’s action level of 4 pCi/L, Baker pledges to put in a mitigation system, which for her sized daycare would run around $1500.

But if it ever becomes law to require testing, Baker says the state should make a mitigation system affordable for daycares.

“Do a payment plan,” Baker suggested. “It should be a tax write off.”

UPDATE: The results came back and Baker says the number is just .7 picocuries which is well below the EPA’s 4 picocuries action level (ie. to install a radon mitigation system).

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Investigative Reporter, John Charlton can be reached at 502-582-7263 and jcharlton@whas11.com.

Investigative Researcher, Andrea Ash can be reached at 502-582-7297 and aash@whas11.com.

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