Prison Radon Testing Reveals Exposure 5x EPA’s Safe Levels

When it comes to radon, homeowners have a choice: they can test for radon to ensure their family is living in healthy conditions. Prisoners, on the other hand, just have to accept whatever environment the state or federal authorities institutionalize them in. Last summer, prisoners at the Garner Correctional Institution (GCI) in Newtown, Connecticut filed a Class Action lawsuit stating their living facilities are radon contaminated. In 2014, radon testing revealed parts of the facility to be more than five times the acceptable EPA levels of radon, an odorless, colorless radioactive gas that is the second largest cause of lung cancer, behind smoking.

“The lawsuit was filed in August 2016 on behalf of nine named plaintiffs and other GCI prisoners who were exposed to excessive indoor radon gas, a recognized carcinogen,” the Prison Legal News reported on the lawsuit. “According to the complaint, exposing prisoners to high levels of radon gas, ‘far in excess of any published safe level for more than 20 years,’ constitutes deliberate indifference by prison officials.”

Radon Exposure Equivalent to 2.5 Packs of Cigarettes

State tests indicated that 58 of 117 test locations at GCI had radon levels at or above the EPA’s action level of 4.0 pCi/L (picocuries per liter of air). The highest level of radon at 23.7 – the equivalent of smoking 2½ packs of cigarettes a day, pretty ironic, as today’s prisoners are denied access to tobacco products out of health concerns, yet they can’t breathe the cafeteria air safely. Whether you are institutionalized or not, radon poisoning is definitely not something you want to mess with.

A Blast from the Past: Dangers of Radon and the Need for Radon Detection Highlighted in 1980s Newsletter

Here’s one from the archives, going back to the days before the Internet when folks were just beginning to discover the dangers of household radon and the need for radon detection. It’s an Ohio Genealogy Newsletter from 1986 that discusses the dangers of radon. “It was not until recently … that both geologists and public health officials were aware that radon was widespread in the natural environment, accumulating in buildings in potentially harmful concentrations…,” the newsletter notes.

Like Smoking Hundreds of Packs of Cigarettes Every Day…

The article points out that it was only in 1984, two years prior to its publication, that the danger of radon in private homes became evident after an engineer working in a nuclear power plant triggered radiation alarms. Most assumed it came from his work environment, but further examination revealed his home to be the real source. Health officials compared the radon contamination in his home to the harmful equivalent of smoking 135 packs of cigarettes a day.

The article further notes that areas like Ohio and Dayton may not exhibit the potential for radon as some other states, but “the extent of the problem is just as speculative as the rest of the country.”

So yeah, your living room could be giving you the radioactive contamination of smoking hundreds of packs of cigarettes a day and you might not even know it. Have you had your home tested for radon lately? It just might be a good idea.