(NationalUSNews.com) — On Thursday, January 11, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced they would be allocating more than $3 million for agencies across six states in order to address the issue of radon and protect families in public housing. The grants are being awarded to public housing agencies in Maryland, Missouri, Ohio, Tennessee, Nebraska, and Illinois. Ohio has the fourth highest levels of radon in the US.
Radon is an odorless, invisible gas that is caused by the natural decay of uranium, which is found in nearly all soils. It gets into homes through even the smallest of holes and cracks in the foundations and can build up to dangerous levels in homes. Radon gas decays into radioactive particles, which can damage lung tissue and lead to lung cancer. For non-smokers, radon is the second-leading cause of lung cancer and is estimated to be connected to around 21,000 lung cancer deaths per year.
U.S. Secretary of House and Urban Development Secretary Marcia Fudge says that their new policy of requiring that radon be considered part of public housing’s environmental review process will help create awareness and help address the hazards radon poses to people’s health and safety. While the policy does not require testing for radon, it does encourage local public housing authorities to do the necessary testing when they feel it is warranted.
Each of the grants has been earmarked for testing and mitigation for specific existing housing units as well as new developments. The Columbiana Metropolitan Housing Authority in Ohio has been awarded a grant of $600,000 to test 598 residential units as well as mitigate 150 of them. They estimate that about 800 people will benefit from this local project alone. The other grants will be used in a similar fashion, with some focusing on as few as 122 residential units and some on as many as 744. The project is expected to help as many as 3,000 people.
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