The following were among actions taken at Tuesday's meeting of the Prince George's County Council. For more information, call 952-5182.
RADON GAS -- Prince George's County Health Officer Helen B. McAllister told the council that radon gas is not a significant problem in county homes and is not a major health hazard for county residents.
McAllister said county officials have reviewed data on radon tests conducted on 419 homes and found that 82 percent had radon levels below what the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) says is safe -- four picocuries per liter. The tests were conducted by individual homeowners at their own expense and test results passed on to the county health department.
EPA officials have said that homes with between 20 and 50 picocuries per liter should have radon gas monitoring devices installed to ensure the level does not go any higher, which would be considered an unsafe level and a health hazard. McAllister said of the 419 homes tested in the county, only one house in Laurel and another in Mount Pellier were found to have levels between 20 and 50. No county homes had levels above 50.
McAllister said radon tests in neighboring jurisdictions have found a number of homes with radon levels greater than 50 picocuries and some up to 200 picocuries per liter.
McAllister stressed that radon, a colorless, odorless gas that can cause lung cancer, is only harmful if absorbed in the body for long periods of time. She said the effects of the gas, which is formed by the breakdown of uranium, are not as significant as the effects of tobacco on the body.
"There have been between 5,000 and 20,000 deaths per year attributed to radon while 1,000 deaths a day are attributed to tobacco," McAllister said.
Member Hilda R. Pemberton last December asked McAllister to speak on radon gas after numerous Montgomery County homes were found to have high levels of radon gas. The council took no action on McAllister's report, but instead asked her to gather more data on the gas in county homes.
McAllister said health officials will continue to evaluate data on radon gas tests made by individual homeowners and will also urge additional homeowners to conduct the tests. She said she would update the council at a future date on additional test results.
HOUSING STUDY -- A study on the effects of economic development on the county's housing market has concluded that the area needs more high-quality or luxury housing to accomodate a growing number of young executives who are finding jobs in the county.
Lance Billingsley, a lawyer and chairman of the Prince George's County Economic Development Corporation's Board of Directors, told the council that the county is in the midst of an economic boom -- with commercial and residential development on the rise and a school system referred to last week by President Reagan as a model for systems nationwide.
The study said economic development is bringing upwardly mobile young executives with household median incomes of more than $75,000. But many of those executives are living outside the county in areas such as Montgomery County, where luxury housing is more abundant, Billingsley said.
The study, which was released last week, said that although Prince George's is one of the more affluent counties in the nation, "it has long labored under an image of a lower-income area with limited opportunities for higher-income residential development."
The study suggests county officials urge developers to build higher priced homes, including single-family detached houses, town houses, condominiums and rental housing to accomodate the executives.
But at least three council members spoke against the study's suggestion. Member JoAnne T. Bell said the study should also examine the need to improve older homes owned by elderly residents. Member Floyd Wilson said the study should take into account where such higher-priced housing would be built. He said he would like to see developers build in Glenarden, in his district, the kind of luxury housing they are now building in areas like Laurel. Sue V. Mills said she is unhappy that developers appear to be interested in building luxury homes only in the northern part of the county and not in southern part.
Billingsley said a subcommittee made up of members of the economic development corporation, the public and the business community will further study the need for higher-priced housing in the county and report its findings to the corporation. In the spring, the corporation will review the findings and make a recommendation to County Executive Parris Glendening.