Two bills addressing radon-associated cancer risks on Guam were recently introduced by Senator Sabina Perez.
Bill 168 aims to protect children by requiring radon testing and mitigation in school and child care facilities while Bill 169 requires that information about radon, including testing results, be provided upon the sale of residential real property.
Radon is a naturally occurring radioactive gas and a known carcinogen, considered by USEPA as the second leading cause of lung cancer in the United States.
Historically, dangerous levels of radon have been measured on Guam. In fact, the accumulation of indoor radon gas is associated with karstic limestone formations on the island.
Roland Gutierrez, Guam EPA environmental health specialist, mentioned areas on Guam where high concentrations of radon gas have been detected.
“Predominantly, mostly the northern end of the island and the coastal areas going to the south, we do have a radon map that was made by the United States Environmental Protection Agency. So there have been extensive studies on Guam since the 1990s to determine where radon is most predominant in the substrate on the island,” Gutierrez said.
Buildings that are constructed in these areas are susceptible to increased concentrations of radon, as the gas may enter homes and buildings through structural pores and cracks.
If Bill 168 becomes law, all schools and childcare facilities would have to go through regular radon testing and mitigation.
“I think that it is a great idea The problem is the capability on island for radon testing. I don’t think that we will be able to meet that demand and especially if it is a mandate that comes through. We were having this class and we are trying to teach some people to be certified in radon measurement and there are like 3 or 4 people in the class. I think if we bring in greater awareness about radon and its health effects then there will be more people willing to get into the industry and people that are certified to test for radon,” Gutierrez said.
According to Perez, the potential health effects of radon poses a major concern for the island and the two bills will help protect Guam’s citizens, especially children, from the consequences of continuous exposure to high levels of radon.