RADON – Its Everywhere – Right?

The National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA), which all Federal agencies must follow, mandates that properties considered for HUD programs must not contain hazardous materials that could impact the occupants personal health and safety. To assist in achieving compliance for HUD programs, the Federal Radon Action Plan was developed to establish procedures to test for and mitigate radon.

Radon, an odorless and colorless gas, is a by-product of uranium and is not harmful in its natural state. Radon becomes dangerous when released into the air and inhaled. If radon becomes trapped in a building and levels become highly concentrated, the exposure to the residents or users is increased, which then also greatly increases the risk of developing lung cancer. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recommends that radon be reduced for residences that have a concentration of four (4) or more picocuries per liter of air (pCi/L) by taking measures to prevent radon from entering the house or by using radon resistant construction procedures.

Mortgage applications that are FHA Multifamily Insured now require that a Radon Report be completed under the direction of a Radon Professional certified by either the American Association of Radon Scientists and Technologists (AARST) National Radon Proficiency Program (NRPP) or the National Radon Safety Board (NRSB), and licensed (if required) by the state where the testing is performed. The report must contain the results of any testing, any necessary mitigation (reduction) measures, the date of the mitigation and must also be included as an Addendum to the Environmental Report required with Section 9.5 of the MAP Guide.

A Radon Report is not required under the following conditions: if a Radon Professional has performed a physical inspection of the property and determined that the characteristics of the property do not indicate that radon testing or mitigation are necessary; if the application is for a Section 223(f) refinance project with a low radon risk (the project is located in Zone 3 of the EPA Map of Radon Zones and documentation must be provided in the Environmental Report); or if the application is a Section 223(a)(7) project. However, even if the Radon Report is not required, radon testing should still be performed. If radon levels are higher than the acceptable threshold, mitigation must occur and be compliant with Section 223(f) standards.

Stay tuned for Part 2 of the HUD Radon Series where we discuss specifics about Radon testing procedures.