Braley: this program is a life or death matter for states like Iowa with high concentrations of radon
Washington, D.C. – After the Iowa legislature’s recent attempt to require radon testing in Iowa schools stalled, Rep. Bruce Braley (IA-01) today made an aggressive push to protect one of the last available federal programs that can help states test for the deadly gas. President Obama has singled out this program for elimination in his 2015 budget.
Braley is circulating a letter among his colleagues seeking support to preserve the State Indoor Radon Grant Program (SIRP). The program was created in 1988 to provide assistance to states to test and reduce radon exposure in schools and homes.
“Radon, behind smoking, is the leading cause of lung cancer in Iowa, and we’re not doing nearly enough to ensure our families and schoolchildren are protected,” Braley said. “This is a matter of life and death for Iowans and I’m going to do everything possible to save this program—it’s the only resource we have to help reduce this threat until Iowa lawmakers act.”
Braley has already rallied the support of over a dozen lawmakers and is making resources for radon testing a top priority during the appropriations process. The American Lung Association has also announced their support for Braley’s initiative.
“Eliminating the SIRG program would have a devastating effect on the work being done across the United States to educate the public about the dangers of radon and save lives by protecting people from lung cancer,” Braley’s letter reads.
Braley has spent years fighting at the federal level for the resources to allow testing in Iowa schools. In 2012, Braley introduced the End Radon in Schools Act to protect students, teachers, and school employees from high levels of radon in public schools and provide grants to test the radon levels in school buildings.
In July of 2013, Braley introduced an amendment to the Elementary and Secondary Education Act to end the threat of radon gas in America’s schools.
A copy of Braley’s letter is available immediately below:
March 26, 2014
The Honorable Ken Calvert The Honorable Jim Moran
Chairman Ranking Member
House Appropriations Subcommittee House Appropriations Subcommittee
on Interior, Environment, and Related on Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies
Dear Chairmen Calvert and Ranking Member Moran:
As you both work to craft your fiscal year 2015 appropriations bill, we would like to urge you to provided significant funding for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) State Indoor Radon Grant (SIRG) Program.
As you may know, Radon is a colorless, tasteless and odorless gas that causes lung cancer. Radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer in the United States, after smoking, responsible for thousands of deaths each year, according to the Surgeon General and the EPA. Because people spend much of their lives indoors, the quality of indoor air is a major concern. Radon has been found at elevated levels in homes in every state, and can also build up in schools and other buildings. The EPA estimates that nearly one out of every fifteen homes in the United States has unsafe indoor radon levels.
Exposure to radon causes no immediate symptoms, but the long-term threat of lung cancer is significant to everyone. Simple steps can reduce the threat through testing buildings for radon and fixing buildings where levels are dangerously high. Unfortunately, the President’s budget would eliminate an important program that prevents radon exposure.
The EPA’s State Indoor Radon Grant (SIRG) program was authorized in 1988 to provide financial assistance to states to develop, implement and enhance state capacity for reducing radon risk. Over the past two decades, the EPA’s Radon Program has helped reduce radon exposure in homes and schools and reduced radon-caused lung cancer. Eliminating the SIRG program would have a devastating effect on the work being done across the United States to educate the public about the dangers of radon and save lives by protecting people from lung cancer. Many states have indoor radon programs in place, but they need ongoing support as well as technical assistance, to make sure that states can reduce the health burden caused by radon exposure. Without the guidance and funding support from EPA, state programs will simply not be able to protect the public from the threat of radon. We ask that you provide $8 million in funding for the State Indoor Radon Grant Program as part of the Fiscal Year (FY) 2015 Interior and Environment Appropriations bill.
We appreciate your attention to our request. Please feel free to contact us if we can provide further assistance.
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