Thursday, April 25, 2013
MY TESTIMONY TO U.S. Congress on 2014 EPA RADON BUDGET
My heart is crying. The EPA zero budget FY2014 for radon will stop the outreach by the states, close the state radon programs, and increase the risk of radon-induced lung cancer due to lack of knowledge by our citizens. I am asking for the previous budget of $12 million not only be reinstated but increased to $20 million because of the seriousness of radioactive radon gas exposure resulting in up to 22,000 deaths or greater each year.
The reasoning behind this elimination of funding to the radon program was based on redundant funding which is not true. The state programs cannot operate without the assistance from the federal government and get no other assistance. Effective and committed personnel who have been successful in educating the public are facing a loss of jobs, state programs are being closed, and ultimately lives will be lost because of the public’s ignorance of the danger of radioactive radon gas.
Since my husband’s death from radon-induced lung cancer, I’ve devoted my life to radon awareness, education, and action; and I’m asking you for help.
A few years before my husband’s lung cancer diagnosis, he asked me if we should check our home for radon gas. I said “No, our home is only 20 years old and we have a tight basement.” I was very confident in my ignorance, for I didn’t know that radioactive radon gas can be in any type of home, old, new, basement, no basement, crawl space or slab on grade. I didn’t know that the tighter the home, the greater the possibility of high levels of radon, so we didn’t test. My husband Joe lived only six weeks after his lung cancer diagnosis and never knew that we had been living with over four times the EPA action level of radon for 18 years.
According to a recent survey 88% of the nation’s population doesn’t know that radon gas is the leading cause of lung cancer in nonsmokers or the leading environmental cause of cancer mortality. Lung cancer is the leading cancer killer of all cancers. Most lung cancer patients are not diagnosed until this demon is in its final stages; there is only a 2-4% five-year survivor rate for late stage lung cancer.
Most people are completely unaware if there is a presence of elevated radioactive radon gas in their home or not. The only way to know is to test and few people have done that. What a simple life-saving solution—if we had only known.
The amount of funding to these programs is minuscule compared to other programs that don’t even have the public’s safety at stake. I ask you to change your direction and to think of the lives of our citizens before closing the door to a program that was saving lives.
Source: “Americans in the Dark About Lung Cancer.” National Lung Cancer Partnership. 2011. http://www.nationallungcancerpartnership.org/news-center/press-releases/in-the-dark.