Air Pollution:

Actions to Promote Radon Testing

RCED-93-20: Published: Dec 24, 1992. Publicly Released: Jan 25, 1993.

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Richard L. Hembra
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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed programs and activities promoting radon testing, focusing on: (1) the Environmental Protection Agengy's (EPA) public information/education programs promoting radon testing; (2) federal grant-supported state programs; (3) voluntary radon testing during real estate transactions; and (4) radon testing requirements for federally housing program-financed real estate transfers and in federally subsidized housing.

GAO found that: (1) beginning in 1985, EPA disseminated information on radon health hazards and ways to reduce them, but although the public's awareness of radon has increased, testing has only slightly increased because the public does not perceive radon's risk; (2) information needed to measure the effectiveness of federal grants in raising the level of radon testing was unavailable because most of the grant funds were used to survey radon levels, radon mitigation, program management, and public information projects; (3) EPA did not have procedures for states to evaluate grant activities' effectiveness in increasing radon testing, but it is developing measurement procedures; (4) five states' programs that were targeted to specific communities or areas thought to have high radon levels appeared to increase radon testing; (5) some states required the use of radon disclosure statements or testing in real estate transactions, while in other states, real estate firms voluntarily used statements or testing; (6) real estate firms reported few adverse consequences in using radon disclosure statements or testing; (7) federal housing agencies and federally chartered secondary mortgage institutions generally did not require radon information disclosure or testing for program participation; (8) recent legislation required the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to develop a radon policy to include testing and mitigation programs in housing projects, and HUD and EPA expect to have testing and mitigation guidance developed by September 1994; and (9) regulations requiring radon testing in federally financed or insured housing could increase the level of radon testing.

Recommendation for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: EPA has adopted the recommendations contained in the May 1992 radon program review report in targeting its public information and other resources to areas with high levels of radon and promoting testing and mitigation at the time of real estate transactions.

    Recommendation: To further the goal of reducing the radon risk, the Administrator, EPA, should adopt the changes recommended in the EPA May 1992 radon program review draft report that call for targeting public information and other resources to areas with high levels of radon and for supporting projects that promote testing and mitigation at the time of real estate transactions.

    Agency Affected: Environmental Protection Agency


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