SPRINGFIELD – Parents of children in day care will be better informed about levels of radon in their child’s facility under a new law that took effect Jan. 1, 2013. Licensed day care centers and day care homes are now required to test for the radioactive gas, and beginning Jan. 1, 2014, day care centers will need to show proof the facility has been tested for radon within the last three years as part of the initial application or license renewal process.
The Illinois Emergency Management Agency (IEMA) is highlighting the new law as part of Radon Action Month throughout January.
“Parents want to know their children in day care are as safe as possible throughout the day,” said IEMA Director Jonathon Monken. “This new law will give them information about radon levels in the day care, and hopefully will inspire them to also test their own homes if they haven’t already done so.”
Radon is a colorless, odorless, tasteless radioactive gas that comes from the radioactive decay of naturally occurring uranium in the soil. Radon is the second-leading cause of lung cancer in the U.S., and the leading cause among non-smokers. It’s estimated that nearly 1,200 radon-related lung cancer deaths occur each year in Illinois.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) has established 4.0 picocuries per liter of air (pCi/L) as the action level for radon.
Under the law, which was signed by Gov. Pat Quinn on Aug. 17, 2012, non-residential day care centers are required to hire an IEMA-licensed radon measurement professional to test the facility. Home day care centers may purchase a home test kit and conduct the test themselves or hire a licensed contractor to perform the test.
Day care facilities are required to post the most current radon measurement results next to the licenses issued by the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) and provide copies of the report to parents or guardians upon request.
The law does not require day care facilities to reduce radon levels if they exceed the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s action level of 4.0 pCi/L. IEMA recommends radon reduction actions be taken if radon levels are above 4.0 pCi/L and licenses contractors who install radon mitigation systems.
More information about radon, including lists of IEMA-licensed measurement and mitigation contractors, is available at www.radon.Illinois.gov or by calling the Radon Hotline at 800-325-1245.