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Dispatches from public radio's correspondent at the Oregon Legislature. This is a venue for political and policy coverage of the state government in Salem and its impact on the people of Oregon.

No Oregon School Districts Have Submitted Radon Testing Plans To State

Kevin Mooney
Northwest News Network
File photo of a radon fan on the exterior of a home in Portland. Radon is a naturally-occurring radioactive gas that is the leading cause of lung cancer among non-smokers.

Not a single school district has told the state of Oregon how it plans to test for radon gas. Every district in the state is required to do so by September 1.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency calls radon, a naturally-occurring radioactive gas, the leading cause of lung cancer among non-smokers. Recent tests in the Portland Public School District showed elevated levels of radon in more than a dozen schools.

In 2015 Oregon lawmakers approved a bill that requires all districts to tell the state by the end of this August how they plan to test for radon. One of the bill's sponsors, Democratic Representative Alissa Keny-Guyer, said she hopes the news of Portland's discovery will spur districts to take action.

"I'm counting on school districts to really hear the needs of parents in the community, and teachers and students, and submit their plans by September 1,” Keny-Guyer said.

The bill also requires districts to carry out the tests by 2021. But lawmakers did not approve any funds to help schools carry out those tests.

A spokesman for the Oregon Health Authority said several districts have reached out to the agency with questions, but none has so far submitted a testing plan as required by the law.

In April, the agency released a testing protocol that it says districts can use in developing their own plans.