Recently, there's been a fast trending issue about a substance most of us likely give little thought to, but may be paying much more attention to soon very: RADON.
Environmental groups in New York City have brought attention to the carcinogenic gas because of the development of shale gas extraction, especially in the Marcellus regions of Pennsylvania, which are high in radioactivity and will soon be supplying city stoves with natural gas. Concern centers around radon's status as the leading cause of lung cancer in non-smokers, and that increased levels of radon in fuel supplied to NYC could create a public health crisis in a city known for "cookin' with gas."
It all started in October of 2011 with a press release from the Sierra Club, which noted "the dangers of inhaled radon and the likelihood that shale gas extracted from the Marcellus will deliver radon into NYS residences at point of use."
A group called Sane Energy Project, which had been fighting a new gas pipeline proposed for Manhattan (The Spectra Pipeline) also took up the fight against radon, and both Sane Energy and Sierra Club have pending lawsuits which allege that proper environmental reviews for the pipeline should have looked at the issue.
Another anti-fracking group, Damascus Citizens for Sustainability, soon gathered support from hundreds of local community boards and civic groups in a letter that requested New York City Council to hold hearings on radon, but the request was tabled by Council Speaker, Christine Quinn, now a candidate for mayor.
Then, a spur of the Occupy Wall Street movement caught wind of the situation and formed Occupy the Pipeline (OTP), spending last summer staging rallies and protests at the site of the pipeline construction, often brandishing large faux road signs on the edge of the West Side Highway, pointing drivers' attention towards the "Fracked Gas and Radon" pipeline ahead.
Finally, this past weekend, in one of those "gone viral" moments that no one would have predicted, a video made by OTP surged in viewership after Upworthy posted "In Case You Missed It, A Seriously Scary Thing Is Scheduled To Happen To New York City In November." Within 2 days, the video had over a million hits.
The trending continues with an upcoming forum on radon, to be held at the Great Hall of Cooper Union. Having hosted Abraham Lincoln, Frederic Douglas and many other notables, the hall has had no shortage of historic moments, and this may be another one.
Tuesday, May 14th, 2013 from 7-9:30 PM
Lung Cancer & New York City Kitchens:
Why Increased Radon Levels in Natural Gas Could Be a Public Health Disaster
The Cooper Union – The Great Hall
7 East 7th Street between 3rd and 4th Avenues, Manhattan
Could your gas stove make you sick?
The Cooper Union Institute for Sustainable Design (CUISD), joined by more than 50 cosponsors, presents a public education forum, Lung Cancer & New York City Kitchens. The forum seeks to inform New York City residents, as well as workers in the restaurant, utility and building maintenance fields, about planned changes in natural gas sources that could result in higher radon levels in gas delivered to the City. Experts on radiation, housing, public health, and worker safety will share their analysis and provide needed information on this potential new health threat, what can be done about it, why this information has not previously been brought to public attention, and how to create a more sustainable energy future in which such health risks are eliminated.
FREE and open to the public but registration is required!
Feature Photo Credit: Erik McGregor