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Industry Updates

HUD MAP Guide – Key Radon Measurement and Mitigation Updates

The HUD Office of Multifamily Housing Programs has released its updated Multifamily Accelerated Processing (MAP) Guide. Released on December 18, 2020, the guidance goes into effect on March 18, 2021. Key updates to radon measurement and mitigation requirements include:

  • Section 9.6.3.2.C – the previous guidance permitted the radon professional to conclude that testing or mitigation isn’t necessarily based on a physical inspection of the property, the characteristics of the buildings, and other valid justifications. The updated guidance requires a valid justification for requesting exemption of testing or mitigation, based on criteria detailed in the applicable ANSI/AARST standard, to be provided by the radon professional in the form of a signed letter.
  • Section 9.6.3.2.C – the previous guidance excluded testing and mitigation for Section 223(f) projects located in Zone 3 of the EPA’s Map of Radon Zones. The updated guidance removes this exclusion, requiring testing and mitigation for all Section 223(f) projects.
  • Section 9.6.3.2.D – the previous guidance permitted random screening of 25% of ground contact units in each building in lieu of the full 100% characterization required by the measurement standard. The updated guidance removes this deviation, requiring radon testing to be conducted in full compliance with the ANSI/AARST measurement standard, which includes 100% testing of ground contact units in each building.
  • Section 9.6.3.2.G – the previous guidance permitted a ‘worst-case’ estimate for mitigation to be conducted as a non-critical repair. The updated guidance requires the lender to include a firm scope of work and all related costs for mitigation in the Firm application. In order to provide the firm scope of work and all related costs for mitigation, the pilot test and building evaluation will need to be treated as a critical repair.
  • Section 9.6.3.2.I – the previous guidance provided general parameters for the ongoing operation, maintenance, and monitoring (OMM) requirements when a mitigation system is installed at a property. The updated guidance requires an OMM program meeting the requirements of the ANSI/AARST mitigation standard to be maintained at a property containing a mitigation system for the duration of the insured mortgage. The OMM plan must be submitted to HUD upon completion of the mitigation project.
  • Section 9.6.3.2.J – the previous guidance did not include a provision for ensuring existing mitigation systems at a property are functioning correctly and meet the minimum requirements of the mitigation standard. The updated guidance requires existing mitigation systems at a property to be evaluated by a radon professional to confirm compliance with the ANSI/AARST mitigation standard and to verify they are functioning correctly. If applicable, corrective action must be taken by a radon professional to address any deficiencies with the mitigation systems.
  • Section 9.6.3.2.K – the previous guidance permitted a ‘worst-case’ cost estimate for mitigation and did not require inclusion of ongoing OMM costs. The updated guidance requires the lender to provide a firm scope of work and all related mitigation costs, to include ongoing OMM costs, in the Firm application.

For loans where the Firm application is submitted prior to the effective date, the lender must choose whether the 2016 or 2020 version of the MAP Guide will be utilized, stating this choice in the application. The lender may not mix underwriting provisions from both guides during the 90-day transition period.

The updated guidance is being implemented as we work to overcome the radon measurement and mitigation challenges created by the COVID-19 pandemic. The COVID-19 measurement and mitigation guidance released by HUD’s Office of Multifamily Housing Programs on April 2, 2020 remains in effect. Check out our April 3, 2020 update on this guidance.

The updated guidance is specific to projects being processed under the MAP Guide. We anticipate similar radon measurement and mitigation guidance for projects being processed under the Office of Residential Care Facilities Section 232 Handbook in the future. The COVID-19 measurement and mitigation guidance released by ORCF on April 10, 2020 remains in effect. Check out our April 10, 2020 update on this guidance.

As always, the trusted professionals at Protect Environmental stand ready to assist you in determining the most efficient and economical approach for managing radon and chemical vapor intrusion. As the largest provider of radon measurement and mitigation services to HUD lenders, you can rely on our knowledge and expertise to provide flexible options to ensure your transactions continue to move forward in a timely and cost-effective manner. Follow our LinkedIn portal for timely updates related to the rollout of HUD’s updated MAP Guide.

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Protect Environmental Participates in Computing for COVID-19 Project

Protect Environmental cares about the health and safety of its community and has recently signed up to host a node to support the efforts of a parallel computing Coronavirus research initiative.

Rosetta@Home is a distributed computing project that engages community involvement by utilizing volunteered computer space to speed up and extend research being conducted on existing biomolecules, including coronavirus proteins, as well as designing new proteins. Rosetta’s Computing for COVID project supports the research necessary to create medicines and vaccines as potential cures for the coronavirus.

How it works: a computing grid uses distributed computer resources to reach a common goal. These computers work together by assigning certain tasks and projects to millions of different nodes hosted on thousands of different servers.

“In a project of this scale, there are millions of large servers hosting thousands of nodes each. We are hosting just a tiny node in a huge effort. This is the largest amount of multi-organizational computing effort that has ever been unleashed to solve a problem in history, and we are excited to be even a small part of it.”

– Kyle Hoylman, Managing Partner of Protect Environmental

The Institute for Protein Design: University of Washington’s Baker Lab actively utilizes volunteered nodes for seven key projects, which are believed to have an immediate impact on containing COVID-19. You can read more about these projects individually by following the links below or by visiting the Institute for Protein Design’s website: Coronavirus Response

Protect Environmental supports the University of Washington’s Baker Lab and the research they are doing to fight the coronavirus. By participating in the Computing for COVID project, we believe we are doing a small part to help our community press on toward discovering an effective solution.  

To learn how you can be a part of the Rosetta@Home project Computing for COVID, visit their websites, consider giving online toward their research efforts, and share about the work they are doing. When we all band together, each contributing even in a small way, the impossible can be made possible. 

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Industry Updates

Indiana Adopts Emergency Rule for Radon Measurement and Mitigation

Effective July 8, 2020, the Indiana State Department of Health has promulgated an emergency rule updating its radon measurement and mitigation requirements. The rule significantly impacts multifamily and residential care lending transactions being processed through HUD, Fannie Mae, and Freddie Mac. Key points of the emergency rule include:

  • as a condition of licensure, radon contractors are required to maintain certification through a proficiency program recognized by the EPA.
  • all measurement, mitigation, and QA/QC activities must be conducted in accordance with the applicable AARST/ANSI standard.
  • a non-licensed person may only perform measurement and/or mitigation on a building that they own and occupy.

If you have a project located in Indiana, consider working with our company to ensure you are in compliance with this emergency radon rule. With a proven track record spanning 15 years and more than 5,900 completed projects across the country, Protect Environmental provides expert service from its trusted professionals to provide peace of mind protection to property owners seeking efficient and effective management of environmental risks and liabilities. For more information about putting our expertise to work for you, contact us today or give us a call at 502-410-5000.

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The Reaction to Coronavirus Exposure vs Radon Exposure

The coronavirus has significantly impacted the lives of Kentuckians over the past several months. Major events have been canceled. Schools have been closed. Business has come to a grinding halt. The terms ‘quarantine’ and ‘social-distancing’ have become common. We even receive daily updates from our governor regarding our ongoing response to this public health emergency. To be certain, the changes to our daily lives have been sudden and drastic, all caused by a silent killer – the coronavirus. 

The similarities between radon, a cancer-causing, radioactive gas found in hazardous concentrations in almost 50% of all Kentucky buildings, and the coronavirus are striking. Both involve public health. Both have taken the lives of hundreds of Kentuckians this year.  Both have created enormous economic burdens. Both are silent killers. And both can be prevented by avoiding exposure. The difference in how Kentucky has responded to the coronavirus versus how it has responded to radon is also striking, which begs to question, “What if Kentucky responded to radon like it’s responding to the coronavirus?”

If Kentucky responded to radon like it’s responding to the coronavirus, swift action would be taken by our policymakers to mitigate exposure to radon. Buildings where we learn, work, and play would be monitored to ensure occupants aren’t unknowingly being exposed to unsafe concentrations of radon gas. And when unsafe concentrations of radon are identified, a mitigation system would be installed on the building to effectively manage occupant exposure. Persons buying a home would be empowered to make an informed decision regarding radon in their new home through effective notification and disclosure policies. Newly constructed buildings would include a passive ventilation system for more efficient and economical management of radon intrusion and require testing prior to occupancy. The result of implementing common-sense radon policy would be healthier, safer buildings where occupants aren’t being unknowingly exposed to cancer-causing, radioactive radon gas.    

The response to the coronavirus in our state proves our policymakers are capable of acting quickly. Why haven’t these same policymakers reacted as quickly to the ongoing pandemic caused by radon? Exposure to radon claims the lives of approximately 500 Kentuckians every year. Losing a loved one to a preventable disease has a tragic impact on Kentucky families. The financial burden created by the nearly $200 million dollars in direct and indirect costs caused by radon-induced lung cancer each year is alarming. Yet, our policymakers continue to ignore the unnecessary deaths and financial burden caused by this terrible disease.    

To be certain, if Kentucky responded to radon like it’s responding to the coronavirus, the impact on preventing radon-induced lung cancer and the number of lives saved would be significant. Maybe the question we should be asking is, “Why isn’t Kentucky responding to radon like it’s responding to the coronavirus?”  

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Industry Updates

HUD Releases Residential Care Facility Radon Testing Guidance in Response to Coronavirus (COVID-19) Emergency

The HUD Office of Residential Care Facilities has released guidance for radon testing during the COVID-19 emergencyReleased on April 10, the guidance contained within Mortgagee Letter 20-10 is effective immediately and reads: 

Regarding asbestos surveys and radon testing: In situations where interior access to the subject is limited and the asbestos survey (if applicable) and/or radon testing cannot be completed prior to application submittal, ORCF will require a Firm Commitment condition requiring the asbestos survey and/or radon testing (and any required mitigation to be identified) prior to closing. Such radon testing must test 100% of the ground level units/rooms and 10% of the upper floor units/rooms in all buildings included in the project.

The guidance provides flexibility for managing radon testing in situations where interior access to the subject property is limited. Because radon testing requires separate mobilizations for device placement and retrieval, the ability to submit applications without the radon report helps to ensure transactions don’t become stalled. However, when utilizing this option, testing of 100% of ground contact locations (and 10% of upper floor locations) is necessary and HUD will require a condition to be added to the Firm Condition requiring testing to be completed before closing.   

Radon mitigation, when required, must also be identified prior to closing. When testing is conducted after the Firm Commitment, completion of the pilot test needed to determine the firm non-critical repair budget for closing may create timing challenges. We recommend completing the required radon testing as soon as interior access is made available to the facility to prevent the potential for delays in the lending transaction when the need for radon mitigation is identified.  

As always, the trusted professionals at Protect Environmental stand ready to assist you in determining the most efficient and economical approach for managing radon and chemical vapor intrusion. During the COVID-19 emergency, you can rely on our expertise to provide flexible options to ensure your transactions continue to move forward – follow our LinkedIn portal for timely updates and information while this situation continues to evolve.

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Industry Updates

HUD Releases Multifamily Radon Testing Guidance in Response to Coronavirus (COVID-19) Emergency

The HUD Office of Multifamily Housing Programs has released guidance for radon testing during the COVID-19 emergencyReleased on April 2, the guidance is effective immediately and reads:

For MF FHA-insured lending, in situations where interior access to the subject property is limited, and the asbestos surveys, lead-based paint hazard evaluations, and/or radon testing cannot be completed prior to application submittal, MFH Production will allow lenders to submit applications without these reports. However, MFH Production will require these reports before issuing a Firm Commitment. For new construction and substantial rehabilitation properties where asbestos clearance sampling, lead clearance examinations, or radon testing takes place after construction, all mitigation reports, including follow-up sampling, examinations, or testing, must be submitted to HUD staff at the final completion inspection, before occupancy.

The guidance provides flexibility for managing radon testing in situations where interior access to the subject property is limited. Because radon testing requires separate mobilizations for device placement and retrieval, and typically includes all ground contact locations (and a percentage of upper floor locations) at the property, being able to submit applications without the radon report helps ensure transactions don’t become stalled. However, HUD does require testing to be completed before issuing the Firm Commitment.

Radon mitigation, when required, is not specifically addressed in the guidance. In most instances, completion of the pilot test needed to determine the firm non-critical repair budget for closing will not be feasible. When applicable, we anticipate HUD will permit flexibility in providing a ‘worst-case’ budget for mitigation to ensure transactions can close.  

As always, the trusted professionals at Protect Environmental stand ready to assist you in determining the most efficient and economical approach for managing radon and chemical vapor intrusion. During the COVID-19 emergency, you can rely on our expertise to provide flexible options to ensure your transactions continue to move forward – follow our LinkedIn portal for timely updates and information while this situation continues to evolve. For LEAN transactions, we anticipate guidance from ORCF to be released soon for radon testing in residential care facilities during the COVID-19 emergency.

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Radon and the Symptoms of Radon Gas Poisoning

Many parts of the country are at high risk for exposure to radon. In Kentucky and Southern Indiana, almost 50% of all buildings contain radon concentrations above the US EPA action level of 4.0 pCi/L. This risk is even higher in Louisville and Lexington, where the percentage of buildings with a radon problem can exceed 65% in certain areas! So, what is radon gas and why should you care?

What is radon gas?

Radon is a naturally occurring, cancer-causing, radioactive gas that you can’t see, smell, or taste. The gas derives from the breakdown of uranium and seeps up through the ground, diffusing into the air. In a few areas of the country, radon is contained in ground water, where it off-gasses into the air when the water is used. Radon gas usually exists in relatively low concentrations in outdoor air, averaging 0.4 pCi/L. However, when radon intrudes into buildings and becomes trapped in higher concentrations, significant health risks arise.

According to the US EPA, exposure to radon is the leading cause of lung cancer among non-smokers (second overall to smoking) and is responsible for more than 21,000 annual deaths in the United States. Read on for more about the health risks associated with radon gas and how to protect you and your loved ones from this silent killer.

Know-Your-Radon-Number
Understand your risk of radon exposure and radon gas poisoning.

How are you exposed to radon gas?

Most commonly, radon intrudes into buildings through gaps, cracks, and other pathways. In a small percentage of buildings, the gas can also be released from a private water source or emanate from building materials. Radon concentrations can also be higher in buildings that are more energy efficient – well-insulated, tightly-sealed buildings decrease the number of air changes per hour, which can increase exposure to radon.

Hazardous concentrations of radon can be found in all buildings, such as your home, your place of work, or even the school your children attend. According to the US EPA, about 1 in 15 buildings contain hazardous concentrations of radon gas. However, in some parts of our country, 50% or more of buildings have a radon problem!  

How-Radon-Enters-You-Home
How Radon Enters Your Home.

How does radon gas cause lung cancer?

Radon gas decays quickly, releasing tiny radioactive particles. When these particles are inhaled, they can damage the cells that line your lungs. Long-term exposure to radon can lead to lung cancer. If you smoke, your risk is even greater. An increased risk of leukemia associated with radon exposure in adults and children has also been suggested.

Due to lung shape and size differences, children have higher estimated radiation doses than adults. Children also have breathing rates faster than those of adults. Risk of lung cancer in children resulting from exposure to radon may be almost two times greater than the risk to adults exposed to the same amount of radon. Sadly, an estimated 70,000 classrooms contain hazardous radon concentrations because most schools and childcare facilities aren’t required to test for radon gas.

Radon-Effects-Lung-Cancer
Radon can be found at elevated levels in the air you breathe. Radon is a radioactive gas that damages the tissue in your lungs. Damaged lung tissue can mutate and develop into lung cancer.

What are the symptoms of radon gas poisoning?

Unlike with other gases like carbon monoxide, symptoms of radon poisoning won’t show up right away. Exposure to radon gas is chronic, meaning health problems from exposure, such as lung cancer, show up after many years.

Early signs of lung cancer may include a nagging cough, shortness of breath, or wheezing. Coughing up blood or chest pain, as well as loss of appetite, weight loss, and fatigue are other symptoms association with lung cancer.

What do I do if I have radon gas poisoning symptoms?

Specific medical testing to determine if you have been exposed to hazardous concentrations of radon gas don’t exist. That’s why it’s important to be aware of the symptoms of lung  cancer, talk with your doctor about whether you should be tested to check for lung cancer. If you smoke – stop!

How can I protect myself and my family from radon gas?

Testing where you live or work is easy and cost-effective. If you have children attending school, request the building where they learn be tested. If you find you have a radon problem, take steps to have the building mitigated to control your exposure to radon gas.

Ensure that all testing and mitigation is done by a qualified professional using the national consensus standards. Better yet, let the professionals at Protect Environmental provide you with peace of mind protection in knowing that you and your family are safe from the silent killer – radon gas.

Radon-Testing-1
A Protect Professional comes to your home and conducts a Radon test.
Radon-Testing-2
We evaluate your test results and work with you to develop the best course of action for YOUR home. The EPA recommends mitigation when radon levels are at 4.0 pCi/L or higher.
Radon-Testing-Graphic-3
If you choose to mitigate, a Protect Professional comes to your home to install the radon mitigation system. Once the system is installed, we test again to ensure that the mitigation system is working properly to reduce the radon levels in your home.

How can I protect myself and my family from radon gas?

Exposure to radon gas presents a significant health concern. The only way to know if you and your family are at risk is to test the buildings where you live, work, or learn. Testing is easy and cost-effective. If you have a radon problem, affordable options for mitigating your exposure exist. You should always use a qualified professional for testing and mitigation.   

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National Radon Action Month

A call to action.

The colorless, odorless, tasteless, radioactive radon gas that may be in your home, has overstayed its welcome. 700 Kentuckians are diagnosed with radon-induced lung cancer every year.

January is National Radon Action Month (NRAM) and all month long we will be sharing facts about what radon is, why testing is important, and how mitigation works to reduce the levels in your home.

Our social media pages will be sharing staggering statistics about the cancer-causing gas, so follow along with us!

National Radon Action Month not only reminds all of us of just how dangerous the radioactive gas is, but it also highlights the importance of testing our homes.

Kick radon out.

It is a naturally occurring gas that is emitted from the breakdown of Uranium metal underground. It is dangerous to be breathing in at home.

When breathed, it damages the lungs and can lead to lung cancer. Although, the process to reduce levels in the home is relatively simple, straightforward, and inexpensive.

If you have not tested your home, January is the best time to do so! The levels in your home are more concentrated in the winter when doors and windows stay shut against the cold.

Experiencing the health risks of radon is completely preventable.

During the month of January, the Kentucky Radon Coalition is offering free test kits to all Kentucky residents. And when test kits aren’t offered for free, the process is relatively inexpensive, quick, and simple. There are a couple of ways to test.

Disposable charcoal tests, like the one pictured here, hang undisturbed for 3 days before you mail them off to the lab.

Team up with Team Green

Here at Protect Environmental, we use a device called a CRM to conduct an electronic test. We work with you to determine the best course of action for your home for your peace of mind. Schedule an appointment with one of our certified professionals to know if your home is at risk.

Know your number and know your risk. The Environmental Protection Agency recommends mitigating a home when radon levels are tested at a level of 4.0 pCi/L of air. The only way to know if your home has elevated levels is to test. Contact us to schedule an appointment or go to freeradontestkit.com to register for a free test today.

Be a part of the conversation

Testing for radon in homes is the focus of National Radon Action Month, although it does not end there. Spreading awareness is one of the greatest hurdles when it comes to protecting Kentuckians and the greater United States from the radioactive gas.

You can help by sharing this post with your friends and family! Their homes could be at risk, too.

Radon is an odorless, colorless, tasteless gas that causes damage to our lungs when breathed. Test your home and tell your loved ones to do the same.

And don’t forget! You can receive a free radon test kit through the Kentucky Radon Coalition through January 31st.

January is National Radon Action Month. Take action to protect your family and yourself from the harmful effects of exposure to radioactive gas.