New Policy Brief Highlights Critical Need for Stronger Radon Protections in Rental Housing

American Lung Association and the National Center for Healthy Housing Release Recommendations to Protect Renters from Lung Cancer-Causing Gas

Today, the American Lung Association and the National Center for Healthy Housing released a policy brief to raise awareness about the issue of radon in rental properties and encourage local and state officials to implement recommended policies to reduce radon-caused lung cancer in the United States.

Radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer, and elevated radon levels are found in more than 1 in 15 homes in the U.S. Radon is a naturally occurring radioactive gas emitted from the ground that is odorless, tasteless and colorless. The gas can enter a home through cracks in walls, basement floors, foundations and other openings. Radon can be present at high levels inside homes, schools and other buildings. 

The policy brief, titled Radon Risk Reduction Strategies in Rental Housing: Opportunities to Strengthen State and Local Policies, highlights the need for additional state and local requirements to protect people who live in rental properties from radon. The report finds that while there has been an increase in federal action to address radon in rental properties in recent years, those policies only cover a fraction of the 48 million rental properties nationwide. 

“Radon is found in homes in every state and nearly all counties in our country, in both single-family homes and apartment complexes. It can be present on any floor of a building. Because most policies to protect people from radon apply to homeowners, not renters, which are more likely to have lower incomes and be people of color, the recommended policies are critical in addressing health disparities in lung cancer,” said Harold Wimmer, National President and CEO of the American Lung Association.

Said Amanda Reddy, Executive Director of the National Center for Healthy Housing, “Radon exposure results in 21,000 deaths in the United States each year. Renters are highly vulnerable because they depend on their landlord to take actions to protect them from this odorless gas. State and local policymakers and advocates should read this report to learn what they can do to implement health-protective radon policies for rental housing.”  

The policy brief recommends components for state and local policy action to protect tenants from radon-caused lung cancer, including: 

  • Requiring disclosure to tenants of known radon levels and a warning statement of potential radon risks.
  • Requiring radon testing according to national standards in 100% of ground-contact units and not less than 10% of all upper floor units.
  • Requiring radon testing be performed by credentialed radon measurement professionals.
  • Requiring mitigation in rental housing when radon levels are found to exceed EPA’s action level.

This policy brief supports the strategies outlined in the National Radon Action Plan, which was developed by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), along with strategic partners like the American Lung Association. The goal of the National Radon Action Plan is to eliminate preventable lung cancer from radon in the U.S. by expanding protections for all communities and buildings. In addition, the plan sets a goal for the nation to find, fix and prevent high indoor radon levels in 8 million buildings by 2025; to prevent an average of at least 3,500 lung cancer deaths per year; and to save a quarter of a million lives in those buildings over time. The National Radon Action Plan was developed through a collaborative effort by the EPA, the American Lung Association, and 11 other organizations.

The American Lung Association has been involved with the development and implementation of the National Radon Action Plan since its inception in 2014 and works to reduce the health impacts on radon for all Americans. 

The new policy brief, as well as more information about radon is available at Lung.org/Radon.

For more information, contact:

Jill Dale
312-940-7001
[email protected]

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