The 2015 AARST Symposium- Radon and Bureaucrats
The International Radon Symposium was held in Bloomington Minnesota on September 20-23rd. The topics ranged from new technology to new advances in public health findings but the overall theme of the event had to be on Radon Public Policy.
In June 2013 HUD announced its mandate that requires owners of multifamily properties who are seeking HUD backed financing or refinancing to include a radon report as part of their loan application. A radon report is a document issued by a radon professional that shows the building has been tested and if high levels of radon gas exist, mitigated to lower radon exposure rates in the building.
As a result of this new policy change, there has been a rise in the number of multifamily tests that have been performed all over the country. AARST and HUD are working to take the same mandate and apply it to single family HUD backed mortgages. This would mean that all FHA single family loans would be required to test for radon and if high levels are detected, install a radon mitigation system as part of the real estate transaction.
FHA loans make up over 20 % of all real estate transactions nationwide. A mandate from HUD could lead to an overwhelming demand for radon testing an mitigation. Especially in areas that are zoned as a level one map area by the EPA (the area with a 50% or higher probability of testing high for radon). One of the major hold ups by HUD is a fear that there is not enough licensed and certified testing and mitigation professionals to meet this demand and that requiring testing on every FHA deal would lead to a bottleneck in the real estate transaction.
There have been several state laws enacted to protect people from long term exposure to radon gas. The Minnesota Radon Awareness Act requires home sellers to disclose radon information to any prospective buyer. The law took effect on January 1. 2014. Failure of a home seller to comply could expose the seller to liability if a buyer suffers damages.
Radon legislation is making strides but as with anything in Washington it is a slow process. In the meantime 22,000 people dies every year from Radon induced lung cancer and radon is the leading cause of lung cancer amongst non-smokers. Taking into account that lung cancer is the fastest growing cancer in the USA. Do we really have time to wait for law makers to mandate what is clearly a public health problem? Testing and mitigating your home for radon is a simple and easy way to reduce your lung cancer risk. BY Jessica Karns