February 23, 2012

(Denver) – Republicans killed a bill today that would have protected more Coloradans from radon gas hazards in their homes.

The House State, Veterans & Military Affairs Committee voted 5-4 on party lines to kill the bill. Rep. Larry Liston (R-Colorado Springs) indicated that the recovery of the housing market trumped Coloradans’ health.

HB12-1165, sponsored by Rep. Sue Schafer (D-Wheat Ridge), would have required that the seller of a home conduct a test for radon – testing kits are free in some areas or cost only about $10 in retail stores — and disclose the results of that test to a prospective buyer. The bill would not mandate who is responsible for remediation, or even whether remediation must take place.

Existing Colorado law requires the seller of a property to disclose environmental hazards, but only if this information is known. Most homes sold in the state are not screened for radon.

“We want homebuyers to know what they’re buying,” Rep. Schafer said. “After that, it’s up to buyers and sellers to come to terms.”

Radon is a radioactive, cancer-causing gas occurring naturally from the decay of uranium in soil and bedrock across Colorado. It can collect in any enclosed space. Though radon can be found in all 64 Colorado counties, the state Department of Public Health and Environment estimates that only a third of homes have been tested.

The American Lung Association says radon is the No. 2 cause of lung cancer, and causes an estimated 500 Colorado lung cancer deaths annually. The ALA testified on behalf of the bill today, as did the Colorado Public Health Association, the state Association of Local Public Health Officials and the American Cancer Society.

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