Radon Professionals in Public-Private Partnership Address Low-Income Housing Radiation Risk

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A public private partnership (P-3) initiative aimed at protecting residents of low income housing from the risks of radon-induced lung cancer will receive the support and recognition of EPA and State officials on January 4, 2006 say officials of the American Association of Radon Scientists and Technologists, Inc., (AARST).

This is a unique project

A public private partnership (P-3) initiative aimed at protecting residents of low income housing from the risks of radon-induced lung cancer will receive the support and recognition of EPA and State officials on January 4, 2006 say officials of the American Association of Radon Scientists and Technologists, Inc., (AARST).

The Radon Risk Reduction Projects, a joint effort between AARST, the Alliance for Healthy Homes (AFHH) and local tenant associations are underway in Indianapolis and Minneapolis. The work consists of training local volunteers from Project 504, Organization for a New Eastside and Improving Kid’s Environment to perform radon testing in selected low-income housing, providing the necessary test devices and installing up to 10 radon control systems in each city. The local branch of the American Lung Association has also been a strong project advocate for radon risk awareness and education as they continue to educate the public, medical professionals and policy makers about preventing radon induced lung cancer.

On January 4th, Elizabeth Cotsworth, Director of the USEPA’s Indoor Air and Radiation Division, along with Minnesota Public Health Commissioner Dianne Mandernach will visit several on-site P-3 projects and other radon projects in Minneapolis-St. Paul. Time, materials and training for the P-3 projects were donated by AARST Members, combined with the support and resources of non-profits, state programs and local volunteers will result in the testing and fixing of rental housing units with high radon concentrations.

Radon, a Class-A carcinogen, is the number one cause of lung cancer in non-smokers. EPA and the Surgeon General estimate indoor radon exposure is responsible for over 21,000 lung cancer deaths each year in the United States. EPA recommends that all homes be tested for radon.

“This is a unique project,” said AARST’s President-elect Bill Angel, who is also a Professor at the University of Minnesota, “in that it combines the best efforts of the State Radon office, the USEPA, a number of non-profit organizations and radon professionals. We’re building a model that can be replicated in low-income communities across the country.”

This is AARST’s second major P-3 Project. The first project was in 2003 in Anniston, Alabama with Habitat for Humanity -- where radon control systems were installed in 36 homes as part of a “Blitz-Build,” a cooperative effort of private radon professionals, state and local officials and Habitat for Humanity volunteers including former President Jimmy Carter and his wife Rosalyn working long days in sweltering heat and humidity.

“It was an inspirational example,” said Terry Howell, AARST P-3 Committee Chair, “of how to get radon solutions into housing markets that have not been addressed in the normal mix of real estate transactions.”

AARST estimates that up to 10 million families live in homes with dangerous radon concentrations. Many upper and middle income homes are tested during the real estate transaction when the seller or buyer schedules a radon test during home inspection.

This P-3 project highlights increasing cooperation to test and find appropriate ways to train communities to address the need to fund and mitigate radon housing in a cost effective manner.

But, Edward Pinero of the U.S. Office of the Federal Environmental Executive recently stated, “Based on national averages, we can expect that many homes owned or financed by federal government programs would have elevated radon.”

“Low income housing rarely, if ever, gets tested,” says Eileen Quinn of AFHH. “Public-private partnerships like the ones in Minnesota and Indiana are an effective way to provide life-saving environmental protection for a segment of the population that would otherwise be overlooked.”

For More Information:

Peter Hendrick, Executive Director, AARST – 603-756-9259

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