HUD does not have a departmentwide policy for dealing with radon contamination. Instead, HUD relies on each program office to develop radon policies that align with HUD’s environmental regulations. The three program offices reviewed do not have consistent radon policies. Only Multifamily’s radon policy includes radon testing and mitigation requirements. PIH’s policy strongly encourages but does not require public housing agencies (PHA) to test for radon and to mitigate excessive radon levels, if possible. CPD does not have a radon policy. Instead, both PIH and CPD use the environmental review process to test for and mitigate excessive radon levels in their properties. Relying on the environmental review process to test for and mitigate excessive radon may result in radon testing that occurs too infrequently, if at all. Further, the flexibility PIH gives to PHAs in its radon policy does not align with statements in HUD’s environmental regulations.
Absent a departmentwide radon policy, each program office has developed a radon policy or approach with varying degrees of testing and mitigation requirements. This approach does not align with HUD’s environmental regulations or support industry standards which state that radon testing should occur every 2 years after a mitigation system is installed. Given that environmental reviews generally occur only for specific funding or approval actions and exposure to radon shows no immediate health effects or other warning signs, HUD cannot ensure that residents in HUD-assisted housing receive consistent and sufficient protection from the hazardous health effects of radon exposure.
During fieldwork, HUD could not confirm whether it has complied with certain requirements of the Stewart B. McKinney Homeless Amendments Act – namely, developing and recommending an effective policy on radon contamination to Congress, developing a memorandum with Environmental Protection Agency to address radon contamination, and submitting a radon report to Congress.
We offer seven recommendations to help HUD better protect residents from hazardous health risks of indoor radon exposure. The statuses of recommendations 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6 are all “unresolved-open.” Recommendation 7 is closed.