Provides for radon testing in public and private schools.
BILL NUMBER: S2455A
TITLE OF BILL : An act to amend the education law, in relation to radon testing in schools
PURPOSE OR GENERAL IDEA OF BILL : This bill would require all school buildings to be tested at least once for radon. Further testing, if any, would be on a schedule to be determined by the Commissioner of Education.
SUMMARY OF SPECIFIC PROVISIONS : Section one of the bill would amend the Education Law by adding a new section 409-j to require radon testing in all public and private elementary and secondary school buildings (i.e., schools for children in kindergarten through 12th grade).
New section 409-j also requires test results and other information to be made publicly accessible, and provides, inter alia, for notice to parent.
Section two provides for an effective date of September 1, 2008.
JUSTIFICATION : A January 2005 Surgeon General's Health Advisory stated that "Indoor radon is the second-leading cause of lung cancer in the United States and breathing it over prolonged periods can present a significant risk to families all over the country," repeated at EPA website, HTTP://WWW.EPA.GOV/IAQ/RADON/PUBS/HMBYGUID.HTML, PAGE 4 OF HOME BUYER'S AND SELLER'S GUIDE TO RADON (LAST VISITED 5/1/07). SEE ALSO, New York State Department of Health website, HTTP://WWW.NYHEALTHHEALTH.GOV/NYSDOH/RADONHOM.HTM (last visited 5/1/07).
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has estimated that radon causes about 21,000 lung cancer deaths per year. (See EPA'S 2003 ASSESSMENT OF RISKS FROM RADON IN HOMES (EPA 402-R-03-003). It is a naturally occurring gas that, when it builds up indoors, can pose risks to human health.
The EPA recommends taking action to reduce indoor radon levels if the primary living areas of a home have radon concentrations above 4 pCi/L. The recommendation is repeated on the NYSDOH website as part of the explanation of how to use the radon maps of New York State by town and county. (See WWW.WADSWORTH.ORG/RADON; link from NYSDOH radon information citation above (last visited 1/15/07).
The EPA and the Surgeon General recommend testing all homes below the third floor for radon, and the EPA also recommends radon testing in schools. (See HTTP://WWW.EPA.GOV/IAQ/RADON/PUBS/CITGUIDE.HTML (Citizen's Guide to Radon, Overview, third bullet; site last visited 1/15/07). However, there is no explicit statutory requirement in New York for radon testing either in homes or other buildings, such as schools.
By contrast, Virginia has required radon testing, pursuant to procedures established by the EPA, in public schools since 1994.(See Virginia Code, §22.1-138.) Virginia does not require repeat testing of schools.
In New York, Education Law article 9 governs school buildings and sites. No section within article 9 deals explicitly with radon testing. Explicit references to radon testing appear only in 8 NYCRR 155.5(m), which merely requires school districts to "take responsibility" for being "aware of the geological potential for high levels of radon and to test and mitigate as appropriate," and 155.6(18)(iv), which requires school districts to report radon test results. Because radon exposure can be so harmful, especially at lower levels of a building, because many schools are only a few stories tall, and because children spend substantial parts of their days in schools during the school year, this bill would require radon testing in all public and private schools in the state.
While the manner and schedule for testing are to be established in rules promulgated by the Commissioner, it is the intent of this legislation that such testing be performed once following enactment, unless a school has already tested for radon prior to enactment, and such pre-enactment testing is sufficient based on the standards to be contained in the Commissioner's regulations. Radon testing is inexpensive; testing kits can be purchased from the Health Department for less than ten dollars.
This measure will, at relatively low cost, help protect the health of children in New York State.
PRIOR LEGISLATIVE HISTORY : 2007-2008: 5.3603 - Died in Education; A.3722 - Died in Education 2005-2006: A.11054 - Died in Education
FISCAL IMPLICATIONS : None to the state; minimal testing cost to local school districts.
EFFECTIVE DATE : This act shall take effect on September 1, 2010.
STATE OF NEW YORK ________________________________________________________________________ 2455--A 2009-2010 Regular Sessions IN SENATE February 20, 2009 ___________Introduced by Sens. PARKER, DUANE, KRUGER, ONORATO, PERKINS -- read twice and ordered printed, and when printed to be committed to the Committee on Education -- recommitted to the Committee on Education in accordance with Senate Rule 6, sec. 8 -- committee discharged, bill amended, ordered reprinted as amended and recommitted to said commit- tee AN ACT to amend the education law, in relation to radon testing in schools THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK, REPRESENTED IN SENATE AND ASSEM- BLY, DO ENACT AS FOLLOWS: Section 1. The education law is amended by adding a new section 409-k to read as follows: S 409-K. RADON TESTING IN SCHOOLS. 1. THE PROVISIONS OF THIS SECTION SHALL APPLY TO ALL PUBLIC AND PRIVATE SCHOOLS AND EDUCATIONAL INSTI- TUTIONS WITHIN THE STATE, SERVING STUDENTS AT ANY LEVEL FROM KINDERGAR- TEN THROUGH TWELFTH GRADE. 2. EVERY SCHOOL OR INSTITUTION SET FORTH IN SUBDIVISION ONE OF THIS SECTION SHALL CONDUCT RADON TESTS, MONITOR ACTIVITIES AND REMEDIATION IN THE MANNER AND WITH THE FREQUENCY PROVIDED BY RULES AND REGULATIONS PROMULGATED BY THE COMMISSIONER. 3. EVERY SCHOOL OR INSTITUTION SET FORTH IN SUBDIVISION ONE OF THIS SECTION SHALL MAKE AVAILABLE, IN A LOCATION EASILY ACCESSIBLE TO THE PUBLIC DURING ADMINISTRATIVE HOURS, THE FOLLOWING INFORMATION: (A) RESULTS OF ANY TESTS, MONITORING ACTIVITIES, REMEDIATION OR STUDIES PERFORMED, OR RECOMMENDATIONS WITH RESPECT TO RADON; AND (B) RECORDS OF ALL ACTIONS TAKEN OR AUTHORIZED BY THE SCHOOL OFFI- CIALS, SCHOOL EMPLOYEES OR SCHOOL DISTRICT. 4. (A) COPIES OF THE INFORMATION REQUIRED BY SUBDIVISION THREE OF THIS SECTION RELATING TO RADON SHALL BE MADE AVAILABLE AT A REASONABLE CHARGE AND SUCH DATA MAY ALSO BE AVAILABLE IN ELECTRONIC FORM IF ACCESS IS EASILY AVAILABLE AND INSTRUCTIONS ARE PROVIDED.EXPLANATION--Matter in ITALICS (underscored) is new; matter in brackets [ ] is old law to be omitted. LBD02386-02-0 S. 2455--A 2
(B) ANNUALLY, AS DETERMINED BY EACH SCHOOL, SUCH INFORMATION FILED DURING THE PREVIOUS TWELVE MONTHS SHALL BE STORED IN A LOCATION CONSIST- ENT WITH OTHER ENVIRONMENTAL AND BUILDING MAINTENANCE DOCUMENTS FOR A PERIOD OF TEN YEARS UNLESS SUCH DOCUMENTS ARE REQUIRED BY FEDERAL OR STATE LAW TO BE STORED FOR A LONGER PERIOD OF TIME. (C) AT LEAST ANNUALLY, PARENTS OF ALL STUDENTS SHALL RECEIVE PRINTED NOTICE FROM EITHER AN INDIVIDUAL SCHOOL OR THE SCHOOL DISTRICT THAT SUCH INFORMATION IS AVAILABLE. SUCH NOTICE MAY BE PART OF A SCHOOL'S OR SCHOOL DISTRICT'S PARENT INFORMATION PROGRAM, INCLUDING BUT NOT LIMITED TO NEWSLETTERS, LETTERS, FLYERS, AND OTHER PRINTED MEANS OF DISTRIBUTING INFORMATION. 5. NO SCHOOL OR EMPLOYEE OF A SCHOOL SHALL BE HELD CIVILLY OR CRIMI- NALLY LIABLE FOR ANY FAILURE TO COMPLY WITH THE REQUIREMENTS OF THIS SECTION, UNLESS SUCH FAILURE CONSTITUTES NEGLIGENCE, GROSS NEGLIGENCE, OR INTENTIONAL MISCONDUCT. NOTHING CONTAINED IN THIS SECTION SHALL BE CONSTRUED AS LIMITING ANY LEGAL CAUSE OF ACTION OR REMEDY AT LAW, IN STATUTE OR IN EQUITY THAT EXISTED PRIOR TO THE EFFECTIVE DATE OF THIS SECTION. S 2. This act shall take effect July 1, 2011.