Public health policy for testing of radon in Montana schools

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Montana State University - Bozeman, College of Nursing


Radon as a human carcinogen has been clearly documented (NTP, 2011; NCI, 2011; ATSDR, 2013; EPA, 2013). Radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer after smoking (NCI, 2011) and is found in every state in the U.S. (DEQ, 2013). As Hill, Butterfield, & Larsson (2006) have stated, children are a vulnerable population with consideration to radon exposure due to biophysical characteristics and duration and levels of exposure over time. As a nation responsible for its vulnerable youth, further investigation is necessary to determine that health policies exist to protect school children from this known carcinogen. This study inventoried the public health policies that exist at a federal, state, and local level and then compared and contrasted those policies for best practices. Results of the policy inventory were that nine states had state laws mandating radon testing in the schools. The Environmental Protection Agency zone risk designation demonstrated that 36 states had greater than 50% of counties in zones 1 and 2 (moderate to high risk for radon exposure) but only eight of those states had health policies for testing radon in schools. An analysis of the policies was conducted to identify best practices and a recommendation for a public health policy governing the testing of radon in Montana schools was developed. Research implications are that radon is a public health threat for which the regulatory environment to protect vulnerable children is lacking. The need for well written policy is evident and as states consider public health initiatives, radon testing in schools should be included in that discussion.




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