High levels of radon found at Villagra Building

Posted at: 03/27/2013 10:30 PM
By: Chris Ramirez, KOB Eyewitness News 4

Government officials are advising workers to stay out of part of a nearly 80-year-old state office building in Santa Fe to avoid exposure to radon.      

Attorney General Gary King said Tuesday that agency workers will not use a section of the Villagra Building, which was built in the 1930s.  The building is connected to a newer complex for the attorney general's office.    

A General Services Department spokesman said elevated levels of radon, including one very high reading, were detected in the building's basement and corrective measures are planned. Radon wasn't a problem in other parts of the building.    

Radon is a naturally occurring radioactive gas and enters buildings through basements and foundation cracks.  According to the EPA, radon is the number cause of lung cancer for non-smokers.  The EPA estimates that 21,000 people die each year of radon caused lung cancer. 

GSD Deputy Cabinet Secretary Mike Unthank said the department is making headway to correct the problem, although the exact way the State will do that is still unknown. 

(The Associated Press contributed to this article.)