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Panel Endorses Radon Testing

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WASHINGTON--A Senate committee last week approved a bill that would earmark $1.5 million for radon testing and abatement in schools.

The one-time, one-year program is part of an omnibus radon bill adopted by the Environment and Public Works Committee. The main clause of the bill would authorize the Environmental Protection Agency to grant up to $10 million to states in each of the next three years for identifying and reducing levels of radon.

Prolonged exposure to the odorless, colorless, naturally occurring gas is believed to heighten the risk of developing lung cancer. The gas can seep into buildings through holes and cracks in their foundations.

Most environmental experts believe that schools are less likely to have high levels of radon than homes. Many scientists fear, however, that children may be more susceptible than adults to the effects of the gas. (See Education Week, March 4, 1987.)

The Senate measure would allot $1 million to the E.P.A. to conduct a survey of radon levels in schools across the country. The bill's sponsors said such an assessment is necessary because most previous studies have concentrated on private residences. An additional $500,000 would go toward model abatement efforts.

No date has been set for debate by the full Senate on the bill. A similar measure is currently under consideration in the House.--E.F.

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