Bill requires radon reduction systems in new home construction

DES MOINES — The Iowa House has unanimously passed a bill that would require radon mitigation systems in newly constructed homes in Iowa.

Representative Hans Wilz of Ottumwa says radon is a leading cause of lung cancer among non-smokers and the move could help reduce Iowa’s rising cancer rate.  “Iowa’s cancer rate now ranks number two in the nation. It is the only state where the cancer rate is actually rising,” Wilz said. “An estimated 1440 additional Iowans are diagnosed with cancer each year, not to mention radon is responsible for nearly 21,000 deaths in these United States and approximately 400 of those deaths happen in the state of Iowa.”

Wilz says it’s far less expensive to install what are called passive radon control systems in a home as it’s built rather than putting one in an existing home. “Iowa and North Dakota are the only states in the country in which every county is rated radon zone one — the highest risk,” Wilz says. “The EPA recommends that all homes built in zone one should be built with radon resistant features.”

According to Wilz, good home builders are already meeting this requirement. “Basically this is a preventative method to help save lives,” Wilz says.

Representative Austin Baeth of Des Moines is a doctor of internal medicine.  “Radon is responsible for about 400 cancer deaths in Iowa per year, more than car accidents,” Baeth says. “In fact, 70% of our homes have a radon level above EPA recommended levels, yet only have been checked for radon in the last decade.”

In 2022, lawmakers passed a requirement that schools do frequent and thorough testing of radon gas levels in all Iowa school buildings and develop radon reduction plans.