Radon, a leading cause of lung cancer, can easily be prevented

SPRINGFIELD, IL – State Senator Jacqueline Y. Collins (D-16th) hailed the governor’s signing of a law she sponsored to protect people from an often undetected danger lurking in more than one-third of Illinois homes. Radon, a colorless and odorless gas, can accumulate in houses, schools and other buildings and is the leading cause of lung cancer among non-smokers.


“The bad news is that radon is potentially deadly, and unacceptable levels are found in an estimated 36 percent of homes in our state; the good news is that preventing radon build-up in the construction phase is relatively easy and inexpensive,” Sen. Collins said. “In 2009 the legislature convened a task force of experts to research best practices for radon-resistant new construction, and this year legislators asked them to finish the job and produce standards the building industry can implement promptly before anyone else needlessly develops cancer from radon build-up.”





The new law (introduced as House Bill 4665) states that all new homes built in Illinois must include passive radon-resistant construction. The Illinois Emergency Management Agency (IEMA), after receiving a report from the Task Force on Radon-Resistant Building Codes, will develop guidelines for radon-resistant construction; local governments may pass their own ordinances on the subject if they are at least as strict as the IEMA guidelines. The task force must report its findings by January 1, 2013. Passive radon-resistant techniques typically involve installing a pipe that runs from the foundation to the outdoors to vent radon from the structure. Preventing radon from building up inside a new home is cheaper, safer, and less unsightly than mitigation done after a high radon level has been found inside an existing building.


Sen. Collins also co-sponsored a measure requiring daycare facilities to test for radon every three years and post the results for parents to see. HB 4606 still awaits the governor’s signature.


“One of the state’s most basic public health priorities should be to ensure people have safe housing,” Sen. Collins said. “No one should have to battle cancer because of radon that could have been vented safely and easily from the home.”


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