GAO discussed: (1) the Department of Housing and Urban Development's (HUD) radon-testing policy for HUD-assisted housing; and (2) federal agencies' efforts to reduce radon hazards at federal facilities. GAO noted that: (1) 22 agencies reported the results of radon testing at their facilities to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), including 10 that submitted partial results and were continuing to test buildings and some that were taking mitigation actions to protect federal workers; (2) some agencies did not use EPA-approved radon detectors, had significant detector losses, and did not follow EPA recommended testing procedures; (3) the agencies did not have procedures for retesting, since they did not anticipate the possibility of lost detectors, although it could affect the overall reliability of radon studies; and (4) HUD concluded that it needed to conduct a 4-year research program before it could design a cost-effective policy for radon testing and mitigation, since it lacked information on testing radon in multifamily housing.
Recommendations for Executive Action
|Environmental Protection Agency||EPA should work with all federal agencies to assess the adequacy of their testing procedures and advise the agencies on the aspects of their testing programs that need to be improved.|
|Environmental Protection Agency||In keeping with the legislative requirement to provide technical guidance to the agencies, EPA should develop guidance to resolve the issue of lost detectors.|
|Environmental Protection Agency||To assist HUD, EPA should begin immediately to develop specific guidance outlining testing and mitigation procedures for the multifamily buildings in the HUD inventory.|
|Environmental Protection Agency||Upon completion of the ongoing HUD/EPA research project that addresses radon distribution in four high-rise buildings, HUD and EPA should jointly assess the need for additional research and the need to revise the guidance for testing and mitigating in multifamily high-rise buildings in particular.|
|Department of Housing and Urban Development||HUD should redesign its policy to provide for testing and mitigation programs for HUD-assisted housing, as required by the McKinney amendments. Initially, the programs could be directed toward those buildings with only a few floors, since EPA believes testing and mitigating procedures and techniques are well understood for such buildings.|
|Department of Housing and Urban Development||Upon completion of the ongoing HUD/EPA research project that addresses radon distribution in four high-rise buildings, HUD and EPA should jointly assess the need for additional research and the need to revise the guidance for testing and mitigating in multifamily high-rise buildings in particular.|