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FY2023 and FY2024 Radon Testing and Mitigation Demonstration for Public Housing NOFO

Program Description: The purpose of this NOFO is to provide funds to public housing agencies (PHAs) to conduct testing and, if applicable, mitigation of radon in the units that they manage and to support the development of a plan for future testing and mitigation as needed. The work supported through this NOFO will also provide HUD with important information on methods and costs for radon testing and mitigation in public housing.

HUD’s Office of Lead Hazard Control and Healthy Homes administers this program, which is aligned with HUD’s FY 2022-2026 Strategic Plan. The Strategic Plan includes a provision to broaden the focus of environmental interventions in homes to address other non-lead poisoning concerns such as radon exposure. It is also aligned with HUD’s Climate Action Plan (CAP), where addressing climate and environmental justice is at the core of HUD’s mission to create strong, sustainable, inclusive communities. For more information on the CAP, refer to: https://www.hud.gov/climate. Moreover, compliance with environmental justice requirements under Executive Orders 12989 and 14008 calls for alignment with Justice 40, a government-wide effort that aims to deliver 40 percent of the overall benefits of relevant federal investments to disadvantaged communities through federal agencies through partnership with states and local communities to advance environmental justice and spur economic opportunity for disadvantaged communities. (https://www.whitehouse.gov/omb/briefing-room/2021/07/20/the-path-to-achieving-justice40/).

Radon is an odorless, colorless radioactive gas which is a decay product of elements in soil and rock and is present in every part of the country. Low levels of radon are found in the outside air; however, radon gas can move through the soil and enter buildings through small openings in the foundation or basement and become concentrated in the indoor air environment. When radon is inhaled it can damage deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) in lung tissue and, in so doing, increases the risk of developing lung cancer which is the primary adverse health effect from exposure to radon. The latency period or time for lung cancer to manifest can be many years. However, the risk of developing lung cancer from exposure to radon is influenced by many factors including age during exposure, the duration of exposure, and the concentration of radon as a function of age and duration. It is also expected that children experience higher impact from similar radon doses than adults due to differences in their lung shape and size and faster respiration rate: https://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/csem/radon/health_effects.html.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that approximately 21,000 people die in the U.S. annually due to lung cancer from radon exposure (EPA 2003). Although any exposure to radon poses some risk, the EPA developed an action level of 4 pCi/L (picocuries per liter) of radon in indoor air at which action should be taken to lower radon levels (i.e., mitigate radon) (EPA 2012). The EPA estimates that approximately one out of every fifteen homes (~ 7%) in the U.S. exceeds this action level. Because of differences in the amount of radon in underlying soil and rocks, the risk of having elevated radon levels in homes and other buildings varies throughout the U.S. In the early 1990’s the EPA created a map of “radon risk” in the U.S. that identifies areas at the county level with higher and lower risk of buildings having elevated radon levels (designated as Zones 1, 2, and 3) and displayed more specifically by state including radon contact information: State Radon Contacts | National Radon Program Services (sosradon.org). Some states have also developed their own radon maps that use radon test data that have become available since the publication of the EPA radon zone map. Applicants are advised to contact their respective state radon contact to get additional information on specific state radon programs and state radon maps. Because of the limited level of funding available through this NOFO, HUD is targeting PHA properties in EPA Zones 1 and 2 (or equivalent based on State radon maps) but is allowing for applications for properties in Zone 3 if certain conditions are met (see Section III.F.1.).

Properties in Zone 1 areas would, on average, be expected to have a higher percentage of elevated radon units. In multifamily buildings, this applies primarily to ground contact units, which have a much higher risk of elevated radon than upper floor units. The national standard for radon testing in multifamily buildings (ANSI/AARST standard MAMF-2017) requires testing of 100% of ground contact units and 10% of units on upper floors. This testing protocol is supported by a HUD-funded study (Kitto et al. 2021) that analyzed radon testing results from multifamily properties in 29 states. Overall, 15% of all units included in the study had elevated radon levels. The researchers concluded that 100% sampling of ground contact units was required to achieve 95% confidence that no unit will have radon levels greater than or equal to 4 pCi/L in buildings with up to 20 units.

National practice standards for radon testing and mitigation have been developed with EPA support, by the American National Standards Institute and the American Association of Radon Scientists and Technologists (ANSI/AARST). Standards have been developed for single family homes, and multifamily and large buildings, and can be viewed at no cost or purchased on the ANSI or AARST websites.

Costs for radon testing and mitigation vary for single and multifamily housing and depend on building characteristics and location. Current industry estimates include radon testing costs of $100 to $275 per unit for single family housing and $50 to $80 per unit for multifamily housing (Hoylman, 2021). Estimates for per unit mitigation costs range from $1,500 to $3,000 and $2,500 to $4,000 for single and multifamily housing, respectively. Average mitigation costs for multifamily units would be lower when collateral mitigation is considered (i.e., when mitigation of radon in one unit is also effective in mitigating radon in adjacent units). These mitigation costs include initial diagnostic testing and the creation of a final report with an operations and maintenance plan. Operation (e.g., electrical use by a fan) and maintenance costs also vary but are estimated at approximately $168/year for operation and an average of $110/year for maintenance.

HUD participated in an EPA-led interagency effort to increase federal agency efforts to address radon in their programs, with goals outlined in the Federal Radon Action Plan (FRAP), published in June 2011. As part of that effort, HUD’s Office of Public and Indian Housing (PIH) published a Notice (PIH 2013–06) stating that “PHAs are strongly encouraged to proactively plan and complete radon testing and follow-up with mitigation strategies, if possible, especially when excessive radon levels are present.” The federal agency efforts outlined in the FRAP were followed by a public/private partnership (which includes HUD) that produced the National Radon Action Plan (NRAP), which set a goal to save lives by increasing radon testing, mitigation, and radon-resistant new construction in the U.S.: https://www.epa.gov/radon/national-radon-action-plan-strategy-saving-lives.

For additional information on radon, please refer to Appendix A of the NOFO.

This NOFO represents a continuation of HUD’s support to public housing agencies (PHAs).

Funding of approximately $5,064,179 is available through this NOFO. Subject to appropriations, HUD reserves the right to award fiscal year 2024 funds based on this Notice.

Program Office: Lead Hazard Control and Healthy Homes

Funding Opportunity Title: FY2023 and FY2024 Radon Testing and Mitigation Demonstration for Public Housing

Funding Opportunity Number: FR-6700-N-80

Assistance Listing Number: 14.901

OMB Approval Number(s): 2539-0015, 2501-0017, 2535-0113

Estimated Opening Date for Applications: July 7, 2023

Estimated Due Date for Applications: 11:59:59 PM Eastern time on August 21, 2023


Program NOFO


Agency Contact: Questions regarding specific program requirements for this NOFO should be directed to:

Name: Rhona P. Julien, Sc.D.
Phone: (202) 402-6842
Email: rhona.p.julien@hud.gov

Individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing, or who have speech and other communication disabilities may use a relay service to reach the agency contact. To learn more about how to make an accessible telephone call, visit the webpage for the Federal Communications Commission. Note that HUD staff cannot assist applicants in preparing their applications.