Radon Is Recognized as an Indoor Air Hazard (Great Events from History II: Ecology and the Environment Series)
Article abstract: Recognition of the radioactive gas radon as a dangerous indoor air pollutant led to legislation and calls for widespread testing.
Summary of Event
Radon is a radioactive gas that is naturally occurring, colorless, odorless, and almost inert. Wherever uranium exists in rocks and soil, radium (its first decay product), radon gas, and decay products from radon will also be found. In October of 1986, Congress passed Public Law 99-499, the Superfund Amendments and Reauthorization Act (SARA), which included title 4, the Radon Gas and Indoor Air Quality Research Act. That act directed the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to undertake a comprehensive indoor-air research program.
In the mid-1980’s, governmental studies indicated that radon levels in homes and other buildings were typically four times higher than comparable outdoor levels and in some cases ten or more times higher. The high radon levels presented a serious threat to public health, far surpassing the danger from such better-known hazards as chemical wastes or nuclear power plants. Some indoor radon levels were said to be the radiation equivalent of having a Three Mile Island accident in the neighborhood once a week; some people were receiving more radiation exposure from their homes than uranium miners received in their jobs. The EPA estimated that indoor radon was responsible for as many as twenty thousand cancer deaths every...
(The entire section is 2143 words.)
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