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National Plan to Prevent 3,200 Lung Cancer Deaths Announced

HUD and partners announce strategies to reduce exposure to second leading cause of lung cancer – radon gas

WASHINGTON – Today, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development joined three federal departments and eight national organizations to announce a strategy to prevent 3,200 lung cancer deaths by driving change to reduce radon in 5 million high-radon homes, apartments, schools and childcare centers.The National Radon Action Plan: A Strategy for Saving Lives sets out strategies to drive the changes needed to reduce exposure to radon, a naturally occurring, invisible and odorless gas. Radon is the second-leading cause of lung cancer, and causes an estimated 21,000 lung cancer deaths annually.

“Promoting radon testing and mitigation is an important part of HUD’s Healthy Homes Program.  High radon levels can be found in any home, and an inexpensive radon test is a simple action that we can all take to protect the health of our families,” said Matthew Ammon, Director of HUD’s Office of Lead Hazard Control and Healthy Homes.

Four key approaches to reduce radon exposure are the focus of the National Radon Action Plan, including 14 specific strategies to achieve them. Strategies target specific approaches to reduce the growing problem of radon exposure. Because it is invisible and odorless, dangerous levels of radon often exist indoors without occupants’ knowledge.

Radon is a radioactive gas that comes from natural processes in the ground. Nearly all soils contain uranium, which naturally decays over time to produce radon gas. Radon seeps up from the soil into the air, concentrating in buildings. While radon gas is the second-leading cause of lung cancer, effective measures do exist to reduce radon indoors, which can prevent radon-caused lung cancer and save lives.

Strategies include building in radon testing and systems to reduce radon as standard practice in housing finance and insurance programs, and embedding radon risk reduction requirements in building codes. The partners are meeting with groups, including housing finance and building code developers, to put the initial steps in place.

Ammon noted: “My office will continue to look for opportunities to achieve more radon testing and mitigation in the U.S. housing stock.”

Joining HUD in committing to put these changes in place are the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency,  the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and eight other organizations: the American Lung Association, American Association of Radon Scientists and Technologists, the American Society of Home Inspectors, Cancer Survivors Against Radon, the Children’s Environmental Health Network, Citizens for Radioactive Radon Reduction the Conference of Radiation Control Program Directors, the Environmental Law Institute and the National Center for Healthy Housing. The partners welcome others who support these actions to join in the effort and endorse the plan.

In 2011, the Federal Radon Action Planwas released and has led to the protection from radon in more than 105,000 multi-family homes that have financing from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, among other measures. However, that 2011 plan focused solely on actions that federal agencies could take, while the new plan broadens the tools to include actions that the private sector and the non-governmental organizations can put in place.

The new National Plan can be found here.


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Shantae Goodloe