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On Radon Testing

September 25, 1988

I read with interest your story, "Test Homes for Radon, EPA Says," of Sept. 13. It is a story that deserves the front-page attention given, but it is also a story that is long overdue.

The scientific and public health community has known for some time that radon causes 5,000 to 20,000 preventable lung cancer deaths every year. Prevention is often simply a matter of detection.

To determine if California has a health problem related to radon, I pushed to triple a state-funded study of 360 homes across the state. That effort was vetoed, and a study that may be too small to be a valid indicator is in progress. Meanwhile, the state director of the Department of Health Services this week dismissed the potential danger, even before the study has been completed.

The fact is, we haven't done enough research to know if California has a major problem. The EPA's test-every-home recommendation is clearly too broad. But the warning brings forth questions: Where are the areas in which homes are most likely to contain high radon levels? What, exactly, are the dangers of radon exposure?

I asked those questions last year. I will ask them again this fall, with a package of legislation directing an investigation into radon and other indoor air pollution hazards. Our residents deserve an answer.



San Diego

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