EPA and Partners Make Progress on the National Radon Action Plan, Saving Nearly 2,000 Lives Yearly from Radon-Induced Lung Cancer
WASHINGTON (May 20, 2021) — Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and its partners announced that they are making strides towards reducing the risks of radon, preventing nearly 2,000 radon-caused cancer deaths every year, in a new report “Reflections on the National Radon Action Plan’s (NRAP) Progress, 2015-2020.” The NRAP was launched in 2015 as a public-private partnership among 14 organizations representing the Federal government, industry and non-profit sectors, and spearheaded by EPA and the American Lung Association in collaboration with 12 other federal and national organizations with a shared goal of preventing thousands of deaths every year from radon-induced lung cancer.
“In carrying out the National Radon Action Plan, EPA and its partners have made critical contributions to preventing nearly 2 000 lung cancer deaths every year,” said Joseph Goffman, EPA’s Acting Assistant Administrator for the Office of Air and Radiation. “EPA’s ongoing role in this strong national partnership will undoubtably continue to drive radon action in the future.”
“The NRAP partnership is a great example of how progress in achieving the common goal of reducing radon exposure can be accelerated through a joint public/private effort. We at HUD look forward to our continued participation in this critically important public health effort,” said Matt Ammon, Director of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD’s) Office of Lead Hazard Control and Healthy Homes.
“CDC is proud to be a partner in this nationwide effort to promote radon awareness, testing and mitigation, including radon outreach activities in cancer control programs,” said Patrick Breysse, PhD, CIH, Director of the National Center for Environmental Health at CDC and the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry. “We have been able to increase the reach of radon awareness and reduction activities to a wider community.”
When first established, NRAP partners set a bold goal to mitigate 5 million high-radon homes and save 3,200 lives annually by 2020. While this goal was not reached, by improving building codes, developing private, consensus-based radon standards of practice, advancing radon action through state government cancer plans, and addressing radon in real estate transactions, the NRAP is significantly reducing preventable radon-induced lung cancer.
For example, new requirements to test for and fix high radon through the Federal Housing Authority’s (FHA) multifamily mortgage insurance programs—changes the NRAP team has supported at every step—made a particularly important contribution to reducing radon-induced lung cancer deaths.
These accomplishments, which build on the previous successes of the Federal Radon Action Plan carried out from 2010-2015, have led to protections from radon in approximately 100,000 multi-family homes annually, among other federal actions. The NRAP successfully broadened the scope and reach of the Federal Radon Action Plan by including the health, scientific and technical expertise of national private sector partners.
Moving forward, the multisector NRAP team is focused on developing the next version of the NRAP, while maintaining momentum and increasing impacts. Industry, nonprofit and public agencies aim to achieve this by broadening the scope of work, continuing to build a stronger national partnership, and incorporating radon requirements into housing finance policy and building codes to achieve greater impact by 2025.
Radon is a radioactive gas that can seep up from the soil into homes, schools and other buildings. Since radon is invisible and odorless, dangerous levels can exist indoors without occupants knowing. Testing is the only way to determine the indoor radon level in a building. Exposure to radon causes an estimated 21,000 lung cancer deaths annually in the United States. Fortunately, straightforward measures effective in reducing radon indoors are available, and when used properly can prevent radon-induced lung cancer and save lives.