HUD Office of Inspector General Releases Report Revealing Shortcomings of HUD Radon Testing Policies for PIH and CPD Properties

HUD’s Office of Inspector General released a memo evaluating radon policies for the Offices of Community Planning and Development (CPD), Multifamily Housing Programs (Multifamily), and Public and Indian Housing (PIH). The report found that of the three offices, only Multifamily has implemented a policy requiring radon testing and mitigation in its properties. PIH recommends, but does not require, radon testing and mitigation, and CPD has no radon policy at all.

This finding has important implications for the health and safety of residents of PIH and CPD properties. Radon is a naturally occurring, radioactive substance that, with prolonged exposure, increases the risk of developing lung cancer. HUD does not have a departmentwide policy for dealing with radon contamination; instead, each HUD program office is charged with developing their own policies for identifying and mitigating radon exposure. HUD’s environmental regulations require “all properties used for HUD programs be free of radioactive substances where a hazard could affect the health and safety of occupants or conflict with the intended use of the property,” and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recommends testing every new home for radon exposure, and conducting a follow-up test every two years to ensure mitigation efforts are effective.

While Multifamily properties are required to carry out radon testing and mitigation activities, PIH encourages, but does not require, Public Housing Authorities (PHAs) to test for and mitigate excessive radon levels in their properties. As a result, PIH properties may only be tested for radon every five years, when they must undergo an environmental review. PIH also does not collect data on radon testing and mitigation in its properties.

Similarly, CPD does not have a policy for radon testing and mitigation for its properties and relies solely on environmental reviews to test for and mitigate elevated radon levels. However, testing for radon during an environmental review is also left up to the desecration of “whomever performs an environmental review” in a CPD property. As a result, CPD properties may be infrequently tested for excessive radon levels, and in some cases never tested at all. CPD also does not collect data on radon testing and mitigation efforts in its properties.

The report concludes with recommendations that HUD develop a departmentwide policy requiring programs under its purview to test for and mitigate radon exposure and collect data on testing and mitigation efforts. Multifamily, PIH, and CPD would then be charged with creating or updating their radon policies to meet departmentwide standards. 

Read the Office of Inspector General’s memo at: