NEW YORK (WHEC)-- You can't see, smell or taste it but radon can be deadly.
The EPA says prolonged exposure to the invisible gas is the second leading cause of lungcancer after smoking.
A News10NBC investigation discovered many of our local school districts don't testbuildings for it despite being located in designated "high-radon" counties.
The New York State Department of Health compiled maps showing the percentage ofhomes tested for radon that were found to have higher than acceptable levels. In the Townof Caledonia, Livingston County, 86 percent of the homes tested had greater than 4 pCi/lof indoor radon.
Fifty-six percent of homes tested in Nunda were above that level as well as more than 50percent of homes tested in the Town of Naples, Ontario County.
South Bristol and Farmington were well above the acceptable levels.
Half the homes in the Town of Batavia, Stafford and LeRoy in Genesee County testedabove the 4 pCi/I level as did half of the homes in the Town of Wheatland and Mendon inMonroe County.
"I have a daughter who is a senior and she'll be going to the University of Tampa nextAugust," says Dave Peck. His daughter is a student at Livonia High School.
Peck considers himself both a proud and protective dad. He checks his home for radonevery few years and assumed the school district did the same.
"I thought maybe it was something that they just normally did because it is a problem attimes," he says.
The EPA and the NYS Health Department both recommend that school districts test forradon every five years but it is not mandatory and the state does not provide funding to doit.
A News10NBC review of the most recent publicly available school safety reports foundsporadic testing at best and most of it happened years ago.
"In a school, because of the HVAC systems, because of the size of the buildings, becauseof the way the buildings are used, it can become extremely expensive to mitigate [anyissues] at these schools," says George Schambach, president of the NYS Chapter of theAmerican Association of Radon Scientists and Technologists.
When asked whether he felt like districts take a "what we don't know, we don't have to payfor" mentality about testing, he responded with, "Yes, yes. The schools that we send ourkids to and where our wives and husbands work aren't protected," Schambach adds.
Matt Cole is the superintendent of Livonia Schools.
He says safety is always on the top of his mind.
"I have kids in these buildings myself and so my expectation is that the air that theybreathe and the water that they drink is safe. Yeah, there will always be budgetingpressures however, safety and security is the number one priority in spending," he tellsNews10NBC.
Cole and the Board of Education decided to do sporadic testing in certain rooms in certainschool buildings over the years.
"While Livingston County as a whole, is a higher-rated area, Livonia itself, inside thecounty, is lower than the rest of the county and so, it is something we try to keep our eyeson but at the same time, we don't think we're in an overly high area to be overlyconcerned," he says.
All of the results that have come back do not indicate any problems that would needmitigation.
The sporadic testing done in Livonia is a lot more than most districts do.
According to school safety reports, a majority of local districts don't do any radon testing orhaven't in the last decade.
"Every parent should be going to their school superintendent saying, 'have you tested myson or my daughter's classroom, have you tested the cafeteria, have you tested thegymnasium, have you tested the auditorium,'" says Schambach.
There is legislation, written by lawmakers in the Southern Tier where some of the highestlevels of radon have been found, that would mandate all school districts in New Yorkregularly test for radon but it's been stuck in committee for the past decade.
News10NBC reached out to Governor Andrew Cuomo's office to see where he stands onthe legislation.
News10NBC also checked with a number of other states, some of them, like Florida,require schools to test for radon and report it to the state.
Others, like New Jersey, require new schools to use radon-resistant building materials butmost, like New York, lack any mandates at all for radon testing in schools.