Starkey Citizens for a Clean & Healthy Environment
Pipeline Radon Fear Starting to Catch Fire

BY EILEEN STUKANE | Evidenced by the large turnout at the May 14 public forum “Lung Cancer and New York City Kitchens: Why Increased Radon in Natural Gas Could Be a Public Health Disaster,” local residents are growing increasingly concerned about seemingly high radon levels in the natural gas that the Spectra Energy pipeline will be bringing to New York City. The newly constructed pipeline enters Manhattan at Gansevoort Peninsula, near West 14th Street.

The event, which was primarily sponsored by The Cooper Union Institute for Sustainable Design, along with six other organizations related to either health or the environment, had backing from a strong cohort of 60 other community, environmental, health and political organizations. About 350 people gathered in The Great Hall at Cooper Union to learn from a panel of five experts about radon: a tasteless, odorless, colorless gas — the leading cause of lung cancer among nonsmokers, and second leading cause among smokers — that may be arriving in our homes in unsafe levels to breathe.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates 21,000 U.S. lung cancer deaths a year are due to radon inhalation. Noting that sobering figure, the panelists — from the fields of environmental law and public and occupational health — explained just how the radon content will increase in the gas we are using to cook in our kitchens and heat our homes, and alerted everyone to the fact that this could potentially be a major public health issue.

The forum concluded on a note of hope, however, as Assemblymember Linda Rosenthal made a powerful announcement of her sponsorship of a bill “to amend the public health law in relation to the protection of public health from exposure to radon in natural gas.”
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