Proposed bill would require landlords to do more frequent radon testing and mitigation

Radon testing
Radon testing(Kaylie Crowe)
Published: Apr. 13, 2021 at 5:50 PM EDT
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AUGUSTA, Maine (WABI) - Radon is a colorless, odorless, and tasteless gas that can seep out of the ground and water and collect in indoor spaces.

It is known to cause lung cancer when radon levels are high for a prolonged period.

”I know the urgency of this. I am the face of a radon lung cancer patient.”

Diagnosed with lung cancer in 1998, Debra Violette says doctors suggested radon in her home as the likely culprit. She has since dedicated much of her time to fighting lung cancer and radon. She’s the President and CEO of Free ME from Lung Cancer.

“I don’t want anyone else to deal with this disease.”

“Radon is considered the second leading cause of lung cancer after tobacco.”

Senator Joe Baldacci recently helped introduce a bill to reduce lung cancer rates by requiring landlords to test for radon each year and work to mitigate radon levels if they are too high. It follows a bill in 2014 that addressed radon in rental units.

“The 2014 law that was passed by the legislature had no requirement for mitigation in it and required tests only once every ten years.”

The Maine Association of Realtors is opposed to the bill as written, saying annual testing is unnecessarily frequent.

“We believe in testing.” said MAR President Aaron Bolster. “We believe that it is very healthy to provide good accurate data for these tenants, but it’s such a drastic alteration of testing.”

“The United States Environmental Protection agency recommends tests once every two years.” says Senator Baldacci.

Currently tenants in Maine are able to terminate their lease without penalty if radon levels are high.

“But if you have a family that might not always be easy.” says Violette.

The Maine Association of realtors points out that radon tests can vary significantly depending on environmental conditions, making a single test unreliable as proof of a need for costly mitigation.

“It’s just not a reasonable task, it’s a burden onto these landlords.” says Bolster.

“Certainly going to listen to their constructive suggestions to see if we can make it a better bill but we need to keep moving forward.” said Senator Baldacci. “Radon needs to be addressed, lung cancer needs to be combatted.”

Written testimony on LD 819 is still being accepted on the Maine legislature’s website.

A workshop is expected to take place within a few weeks to make any adjustments.

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