On January 1, a new law regarding radon testing went into effect. The new legislation amends the Child Care Act of 1969 to require radon testing of licensed daycare centers, daycare homes, and group day care homes. Last year, the Illinois Poison Center (IPC) posted a blog about radon in response to a law requiring radon testing in rental spaces. There is an existing law in Illinois requiring radon testing in schools and residential buildings.
Provisions of the new legislation include:
– Daycares must test their facilities once every 3 years pursuant to rules by the Illinois Emergency Management Agency (IEMA)
- Non-residential daycare centers require professional testing from an IEMA-licensed entity.
- Residential daycare centers may use a home testing kit.
– By January 2014, new applications or renewals of daycare licenses must provide proof of radon testing within 3 years
– Report of radon testing must be posted in the daycare centers.
– The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) action level is set at 4.0 PicoCuries per liter (pCi/L). This means that at this level, IEMA recommends that the facility take radon reduction precautions (although this is not required by law). To put this into perspective, the average indoor radon level is 1.3 pCi/L according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
Why is radon so worrisome?
Radon, a radioactive gas, is released from naturally occurring elements found in soil. (Click here for information about how radon gets into our homes, and how to test for it.)
When radon gas breaks down into radioactive particles, the particles can attach to dust and get inhaled into the lungs. Once in the lungs, the high-energy radon partical can damage tissue. According to the American Cancer Society, radon has been identified as a carcinogen, or a cancer-causing substance. Radon-induced lung cancer is the leading cause of lung cancer in non-smokers and the second leading cause of lung cancer in smokers. In a report from 2003, there were 21,000 lung cancer deaths related to radon nationally, and estimates for Illinois approach 1,200 deaths.
Given the information to support the link between radon and lung cancer, it is important to keep children safe by monitoring and reporting radon levels at daycare facilities. For more information, please visit the following websites:
For those in home daycare centers, radon test-kits are available online, and at most hardware stores for approximately $10-$30. We encourage compliance with this important public health issue.
Additionally, as a part of Radon Action Month during January, the Illinois Emergency Management Agency (IEMA) and the American Lung Association in Illinois (ALA-IL) are offering two opportunities for Illinois students to use their creativity to help increase awareness of radon’s health hazard. High school students can compete for prizes by producing creative 60-second YouTube videos about radon for the fourth annual Illinois High School Radon Video Contest. Students ages 9-14 can use their artistic abilities to create posters depicting the radon message in the annual Illinois Radon Poster Contest. For more information, click here.
Remember no problem is too big or too small, just call the IPC at 1-800-222-1222!
-Michelle and Tony