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State launches program to test day cares for radon gas

Child care facilities can get free assessment
Posted: 6:09 AM, Oct 22, 2018
Updated: 2018-10-22 10:03:33-04

INDIANAPOLIS -- When you send your children to day care or school, you expect them to breathe in healthy air.

But a Call 6 Investigation into our children’s indoor air quality found that might not be the case.

The federal Environmental Protection Agency estimates one in five schools has a classroom with dangerous levels of radon--- a carcinogen you can’t see or smell.

Radon is gas that occurs naturally in the soil, but it gets trapped in buildings.

It’s also the number one cause of lung cancer in non-smokers, killing an estimated 600 people a year in Indiana.

Yet, Indiana does not require schools or day cares to test for radon.

While the EPA does not have any guidance specific to childcare facilities, it recommends all homes and schools be tested for radon. 

The Indiana State Department of Health and the American Lung Association are partnering to offer free radon tests to child care facilities in Indiana.

Kyle Hoylman with Protect Environmental, the vendor for the pilot program, tested Purpose of Life Academy child care near 38th and Kessler.

Hoylman placed tests in several classrooms at Purpose of Life, one of half a dozen child care facilities that agreed to be tested for radon.

“It’s for the safety and the environment,” said Ashley Hogue, academy director. “We are all about the environment here and we want to make sure the environment is safe for our children.”

Hogue pointed out some children are there 12 hours a day, and she was surprised Indiana does not require day cares to test for radon.

“It’s very much surprising, but I think we should as facilities,” Hogue said. “I have two kids that are going to school here and I want to know what is in this building.”

Hoylman lost his father to lung cancer, and he’s battled testicular cancer.

The house he grew up in tested for high levels of radon.

“It’s the reason why I do this.” Hoylman said. “Here in Indiana, approximately 800 people are diagnosed with radon-induced lung cancer every year and approximately 600 of them will die. That's the equivalent of 3 jumbo jet airliners falling out of the sky every single year here in our state.”

Three days after placing the tests, Hoylman picked them up and found low levels of radon, well within acceptable levels.

Purpose of Life Academy plans to keep radon on her radar.

“If we find something, let’s get it fixed,” Hogue said.

Tonight on the News at 11:00, Call 6 Investigates is digging into air quality in Central Indiana classrooms. What our Kara Kenney found has school leaders and parents concerned and taking action.