American Lung Association Praises HUD Decision to Protect Families from Radon

New policy will protect more people from the second leading cause of lung cancer

Statement of the American Lung Association

Washington, D.C. (February 6, 2013)

The American Lung Association applauds Monday's announcement from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to protect families from the second leading cause of lung cancer—radon—that may be present in multifamily housing that HUD finances or refinances.  The announcement was part of a broader announcement of the Advancing Healthy Housing: A Strategy for Action report from the Federal Healthy Homes Work Group, which includes the HUD, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE).

Secretary Shaun Donovan announced Monday morning that HUD will require testing for this invisible, radioactive gas in any multi-family housing that receives HUD financing or refinancing.  If testing indicates that high levels of radon are present, HUD will also require that the building be repaired to reduce radon levels indoors.

The American Lung Association fully supports these federal efforts to reduce housing hazards that threaten health, and is particularly pleased with the decision to protect residents from radon which will reduce residents' risk of lung cancer. The joint work of HUD, HHS, EPA and DOE to meet the goals in this Strategy will protect the health of millions of Americans who live in homes with residential health and safety hazards.

Radon is a colorless, tasteless and odorless radioactive gas that causes lung cancer. Exposure to radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer in the United States, after smoking. Radon-related lung cancers are responsible for an estimated 21,000 deaths annually in the United States. Radon can build up to dangerous levels inside homes, schools and other buildings.

In multifamily housing, there is little that an individual tenant can do to protect themselves and their family from radiation. He or she can test the apartment, but the decision to repair rests with the landlord, who too often has little incentive to fix the problem.  With this announcement, more people will be protected from this long-recognized carcinogen.

Radon gas occurs naturally. It forms when uranium breaks down to radium, which in turn breaks down to form radon. As radon decays, it releases radioactive byproducts that are inhaled and can cause lung cancer.

Newly developed guidelines by the American Association of Radon Scientists and Technologists for testing and repairing multifamily housing will ensure that the best guidance can be provided to protect families.  Often improvements that fix radon also help resolve other problems, such as moisture and ventilation.

The Lung Association supports steps to ensure that new houses and other buildings are built so they prevent dangerous concentrations of radon indoors. The Lung Association supports the testing for radon and the repair of any home, school or other building where elevated levels are found.  For more information, visit the American Lung Association website.

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About the American Lung Association
Now in its second century, the American Lung Association is the leading organization working to save lives by improving lung health and preventing lung disease. With your generous support, the American Lung Association is “Fighting for Air” through research, education and advocacy. For more information about the American Lung Association, a holder of the Better Business Bureau Wise Giving Guide Seal, or to support the work it does, call 1-800-LUNG-USA (1-800-586-4872) or visit www.lung.org.