When it comes to radon, homeowners have a choice: they can test for radon to ensure their family is living in healthy conditions. Prisoners, on the other hand, just have to accept whatever environment the state or federal authorities institutionalize them in. Last summer, prisoners at the Garner Correctional Institution (GCI) in Newtown, Connecticut filed a Class Action lawsuit stating their living facilities are radon contaminated. In 2014, radon testing revealed parts of the facility to be more than five times the acceptable EPA levels of radon, an odorless, colorless radioactive gas that is the second largest cause of lung cancer, behind smoking.
“The lawsuit was filed in August 2016 on behalf of nine named plaintiffs and other GCI prisoners who were exposed to excessive indoor radon gas, a recognized carcinogen,” the Prison Legal News reported on the lawsuit. “According to the complaint, exposing prisoners to high levels of radon gas, ‘far in excess of any published safe level for more than 20 years,’ constitutes deliberate indifference by prison officials.”
Radon Exposure Equivalent to 2.5 Packs of Cigarettes
State tests indicated that 58 of 117 test locations at GCI had radon levels at or above the EPA’s action level of 4.0 pCi/L (picocuries per liter of air). The highest level of radon at 23.7 – the equivalent of smoking 2½ packs of cigarettes a day, pretty ironic, as today’s prisoners are denied access to tobacco products out of health concerns, yet they can’t breathe the cafeteria air safely. Whether you are institutionalized or not, radon poisoning is definitely not something you want to mess with.