Metro Vows To Continue Testing Schools For Radon - | Nashville News, Weather & Sports

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Metro Vows To Continue Testing Schools For Radon


By Ben Hall
Investigative Reporter

Metro school officials are using the summer to lower levels of radon gas in classrooms across Davidson County. 

Maintenance crews have installed radon fans at three schools and the health department is working to test every school.

The testing came after a NewsChannel 5 investigation revealed that Metro forgot about or ignored a law passed by the Metro council in the late 1980's.

The law requires radon testing at all Metro schools and has now been added to the Metro Code of Laws.

Just this month, the federal government launched a new effort to warn people about the dangers of the odorless, invisible gas that is the second leading cause of lung cancer. 

Gloria Linnertz knows how deadly the gas can be. 

She was by her husband's side when he was diagnosed with lung cancer.

"We were devastated, how could this happen?" Linnertz recalled.

They immediately questioned how a healthy man who hadn't smoked in more than 20 years could get lung cancer.

"Joe told me, he said, 'I'm not afraid to die,'" Linnertz said.

Sadly, it did not take long.  Just six weeks later, Joe died. 

Doctors were the first to tell Gloria that her husband's cancer might have been the result of the naturally occurring gas called radon.

"I tested the house.  It was high.  I tested again, and it came back even higher," Linnertz remembers.

Their home of 18 years had radon levels four times higher than the EPA action level. 

She's now convinced radon killed her husband, and the EPA believes it kills more than 20,000 people every year. 

That's more than the number of people killed in drunk driving accidents.

"I had no idea what radon was, or what it could do.  I was very confident in my ignorance," Linnertz said.

She is now part of an organization called CANSAR which seeks to warn people about the dangers of radon. 

She travels the country with pictures of people who died from lung cancer and who were exposed to high levels.

"Tennessee has some of the highest, Middle Tennessee has some of the highest levels in the country," Linnertz said.

She has family in our area, and was surprised when she saw our series of reports that revealed Metro schools knew it had a serious radon problem in 1989, but hadn't tested in more than 20 years.

"The EPA has suggested this many years ago that all schools need to be tested," Linnertz said.

In fact just this month, the EPA launched a new nationwide effort to protect people from radon gas asserting once again that all schools should be tested.

Metro School Board Chair Gracie Porter says after NewsChannel 5 Investigates revealed an apparently overlooked law that required radon testing, more than a third of all Metro schools have now been tested. 

Many of the schools have high levels. 

Forty one schools have rooms above the EPA action level.

Tests show 21 other schools in which every classroom tested, meets the EPA standard.

Metro has put in seven radon fans at three schools.  They cost about $1,000 each to install.

"The cost concerns me, but also safety concerns me," said School Board Chair Gracie Porter.

"As we move forward with the testing, I think it's a good thing I really do."

Porter said Metro will find the money to make sure schools are safe, and they will all be tested.

It makes Gloria Linnertz happy. 

She said too often people ignore a gas you can't see or smell -- despite what it can do.

"There are people all over the country who didn't know they were living with high levels of radon until they were diagnosed with lung cancer," Linnertz said.

NewsChannel 5 has arranged it so people in our viewing area can get half price radon test kits mailed to directly to their homes. 
Tennessee Radon Test Kit Specials

It has agreed to sell test kits to people in our viewing area for $7.95. 

Here in Nashville, the health department sells them for $5. 

Local hardware stores sell them for $15 or more.


Click here to view updated results from the 2011 radon tests

Back to NC5 Investigates: Radon

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