T&E Item I
July 23, 2015
Worksession
MEMORANDUM
July 21, 2015
TO:
Transportation, Infrastructure, Energy and Environment Committee
FROM:
SUBJECT:
Robert H. Drummer, Senior Legislative
Attorney~
Worksession:
Bill 31-15, Sale ofReal Property - Radon Test - Single-family home
Bill 31-15, Sale of Real Property - Radon Test Single-family home, sponsored by Lead
Sponsors Councilmembers Rice and Katz, was introduced on June 16, 2015. A public hearing was
held on July 14.
Background
Radon is a radioactive gas found in the air that comes from the natural breakdown of
uranium in soil, rock, and water. High levels of radon can cause serious illnesses and often occur
in single family homes in the County. Although radon remediation from a single family home is
possible, many people purchase a home without knowing if high levels of radon exist in the home.
Radon is already listed as one of the hazardous materials that a seller must disclose to the buyer of
a single-family home if the seller has actual knowledge of its existence under State law. See, Md.
Code
Ann.,
Real Prop. §§1O-702, 10-603, and 10-604. As the County Attorney's Office pointed
out, State law does not create
an
affirmative duty for the seller to discover if radon exists in the
house. See the County Attorney Bill Review Memorandum at ©4-5.
Bill 31-15 would complement State law by requiring the seller of a single-family home to
test for radon and give the buyer a copy of the radon test results. It would also require the seller
to provide the buyer with
an
estimate to reduce radon under certain circumstances.
Public Hearing
There were no speakers at the public hearing on July 14. The Council did receive written
testimony on July 21 from the Greater Capital Area Association of Realtors (GCAAR) opposing
the Bill. See ©19-21.
Issues
1.
Why test for radon?
Radon is a naturally occurring, cancer-causing, radioactive gas that you cannot see, smell,
or taste. The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) reports that radon has been
found in lout of every 15 homes tested allover the United States. Breathing air containing radon
increases a person's risk of lung cancer. Proper testing is the only way to find out if a house
contains high levels of radon.
1
High levels of radon can be reduced using a sub-slab
1
See the EPA Home Buyer's and Seller's Guide to Radon at: http://www.epa.gov/radon/pubs/hmbyguid.html.
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depressurization system that does not require major changes to the house. The system usually
consists of a vent pipe and fan.
2
Radon testing is a simple, inexpensive process. There are passive devices that do not need
power to function which are available in hardware, drug, and other retail and online stores. There
are also active devices that require power and can monitor for radon over time. Passive devices
come with a simple kit that must be left in the lowest level of the house for a specific number of
days and mailed to a qualified laboratory for analysis. Frequently opening doors or windows near
the device can adversely affect the accuracy of the test. A radon test kit is relatively inexpensive
and effective if used correctly.
2. Are there other local laws governing radon disclosure in residential property sales?
The American Association ofRadon Scientists and Technologists (AARST) is a non-profit
professional organization of members who are dedicated to the highest standard of excellence and
ethical performance of radon measurement, radon mitigation and transfer of radon information for
the benefit of members, consumers and the public at large.
3
AARST tracks State laws governing
radon disclosure in property sales. According to the latest AARST July 2015 Policy Brief, no
State has enacted a law that requires radon testing in homes. See the AARST Policy Brief at
©
12­
17. Minnesota
4
and Illinois
5
enacted radon disclosure laws requiring a home seller to disclose
information about radon to a buyer, including test results, if available, and information about radon
risks. Maryland requires a seller to disclose to the buyer actual knowledge of radon levels in a
home as a hazardous material.
3. What are the potential drawbacks of the Bill?
A seller can intentionally or unintentionally change the results of the test by not following
the directions. The radon detection device should be placed in the lowest level of the home that
could be used regularly, but not in a closet, stairway, hallway, crawl space or in an enclosed area
ofhigh humidity or high air velocity. The seller can adversely affect the results by simply opening
a window near the device. Therefore, a buyer may receive a false negative test result that
discourages a buyer from testing after occupying the home. However, it is more likely that the
buyer will receive much needed information about the risks of radon, accurate test results, and a
reason to perform another test. The Bill also requires the seller to use a test kit and laboratory that
is approved by the Department of Environmental Protection.
4. Should the Bill require the seller to provide an estimate of the cost to remediate a high
level of radon?
'
In
addition to a test result, the Bill would require the seller to give the buyer a written
estimate from a licensed contractor to remediate a level of radon above 4 picocuries per liter. This
would be useful to complete the real estate transaction because the parties could renegotiate the
sales price to cover the cost. Obtaining an estimate would be easier for the seller who has control
See the EPA Consumer's Guide to Radon Reduction at: http://www.epa.gov/radon/pubs/consguid.html.
3
See the AARSTwebsite at www.aarst.org
4
See, https:!lwww.revisor.mn.gov!statutes!?id=144.496 .
5
See, httQ:l!www.ilga.gov/legislation!publicacts/fulltext.asp?Name=095-021O.
2
2
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over the property. Of course. a buyer would have no obligation to use the licensed contractor the
seller contacted. Council staff recommendation: continue to require the seller to obtain an
estimate.
5. Should the Bill apply to a condominium or cooperative unit in a multi-family residence?
Although radon may be present in the lowest level of a multi-family residence. a
requirement for the unit owner to obtain an estimate from a licensed contractor to remediate high
levels of radon may be problematic in a common ownership community. Common ownership
communities are governed by bylaws designed to maintain the common space for the benefit of
all unit owners. A unit owner may not be authorized to install a radon pipe into the slab and vent
it out of the roof or outside wall. Therefore, it may be prudent to clarify that this Bill does not
apply to a residence in a common ownership community. Council staff recommendation: amend
the definition of single-family home to exclude a residential unit in a common ownership
community as follows:
Amend lines
8-9
as follows:
Single-fi1mily home
means!! single-family detached or attached residential building.
Single-family home does not include a residential unit in a common ownership
fommunity.
6. Should the Bill be enacted?
Radon is a serious problem that occurs in many homes in the County. In
2005,
the United
States Surgeon General advised that indoor radon is the second-leading cause oflung cancer. EPA
estimates that
21,000
lung cancer deaths are related to radon each year.
6
These facts cannot be
ignored. The Bill would increase testing for radon in single family homes in the County without
unduly burdening real estate sales. The Greater Capital Area Association of Realtors urges the
Council to amend the Bill to only require a seller to provide a buyer with educational material
about radon. They argue that this is being done on a voluntary basis now, and that mandatory
testing would complicate the real estate transaction. We are unsure how adding additional
paperwork to an already paper heavy real estate transaction would significantly increase radon
testing and remediation. Council staff recommendation: enact the Bill as introduced.
This packet contains:
Bill 31-15
Circle
#
1
3
4
Legislative Request Report
County Attorney Bill Review Memorandum
Fiscal and Economic Impact statement
AARST Policy Brief
EPA Chart
GCAAR Testimony
F:\LAW\BILLS\l531 Real Property - Radon\T&E Memo.Docx
6
12
18
19
(; See the EPA Chart at 018.
3
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Bill No.
31-15
Conceming: Sale of Real Property
­
Radon Test - Single-family home
Revised: June
16, 2015
Draft No.
_2_
Introduced:
June
16. 2015
Expires:
December
16. 2016
Enacted: _ _ _ _ _ _ _ __
Executive: _ _ _ _ _ _ _ __
Effective: _--:-::_ _ _ _ _ __
Sunset Date:
_N~o~n.:.:::e
_ _ _ _ __
Ch. _ _, Laws of Mont. Co. _ __
COUNTY COUNCIL
FOR MONTGOMERY COUNTY, MARYLAND
Lead Sponsor: Councilmembers Rice and Katz
AN
ACT
to:
(1)
(2)
(3)
require the seller of a single-family home to test for radon and give the buyer a copy
ofthe radon test results;
require the seller to provide the buyer with an estimate
to
reduce radon under certain
circumstances; and
generally amend the law governing the sale ofa single-family home in the County.
By adding
Montgomery County Code
Chapter 40, Real Property
Section 40-13C
Boldface
Underlining
[Single boldface brackets]
Double underlining
[[Double boldface brackets]]
* * *
Heading or defined term.
Added to existing law by original bill.
Deletedfrom existing law by original hill.
Added by amendment.
Deletedfrom existing law or the bill by amendment.
Existing law unqffected by hill.
The County Council for Montgomery County, Maryland approves the follOWing Act:
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Bill
No.
31-15
1
2
Sec. 1.
Section 40-13C is added as follows:
40-13C. Radon test sinele-family home.
=
3
4
ill
Definitions.
In
this Section, the following words have the meanings
indicated:
5
6
Department
means the Department of Environmental Protection.
Director
means the Director of the Department or the Director's
designee.
7
8
9
10
11
12
Single-family home
means
residential building.
~
single-family detached or attached
Radon
means
~
radioactive gas found in the air that comes from the
natural breakdown of uranium in soil, rock, and water.
Radon test
means measuring the amount ofradon in an indoor space with
~
13
14
15
kit made for this purpose and approved for use
Qy
the Director.
®
Before signing
~
contract for the sale of
~
single-family home located in
the County, the seller must provide the buyer with:
16
17
18
19
ill
ill
~
gmy
ofthe results of
~
radon test performed on the living quarters
of the home less than one year before the date ofthe contract; and
an estimate from
~
licensed contractor to reduce any radon level of
~
picocuries per
liter or more to less than
2
picocuries per liter.
20
Approved:
21
George Leventhal, President, County Council
22
Approved:
Date
23
Isiah Leggett, County Executive
Date
f:\law\bills\1531 rea! property - radon\bi!! 2.docx
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LEGISLATIVE REQUEST REPORT
Bill 31-15
Sale ofReal Property Radon Test
-
Single-family home
DESCRIPTION:
Bill
31-15
would require the seller of a single-family home to test for
radon and give the buyer a copy ofthe radon test results.
It
would also
require the seller to provide the buyer with an estimate to reduce radon
under certain circumstances.
Radon is a radioactive gas found in the air that comes from the natural
breakdown of uranium in soil, rock, and water. High levels of radon
can cause serious illnesses and often occurs in single family homes in
the County. Although radon remediation from a single family home
is possible, many people purchase a home without knowing if high
levels of radon exist in the home.
Ensure that a buyer ofa single family home in the County learns if the
house contains high levels of radon before purchasing it.
Department of Environmental Protection
To be requested.
To be requested.
To be requested.
To be researched.
Robert
H.
Drummer, Senior Legislative Attorney
To be researched.
PROBLEM:
GOALS AND
OBJECTIVES:
COORDINATION:
FISCAL IMPACT:
ECONOMIC
IMPACT:
EVALUATION:
EXPERIENCE
ELSEWHERE:
SOURCE OF
INFORMATION:
APPLICATION
WITHIN
MUNICIPALITIES:
PENALTIES:
Not applicable.
F:\LAW\BILLS\l531 Real Property - Radon\LEGlSLATIVE REQUEST REPORT.Docx
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Isiah
Leggett
County Executive
OFFICE OF TIlE COUNTY AITORNEY
Marc P. Hansen
County Attorney
MEMORANDUM
July
7,2015
To:
From:
Associate Co
m
Lisa Feldt, Director
Department of Environmental Protection
Via: Edward Lattner, Chief
Division of Government Operations
Re:
Bill 31-15 (Sale of Real Property-Radon Test-Single-family home)
&f3>
The County Executive's Office has requested that this office forWard you our comments
.
conce~g
Bill 35-15. The proposed legislation would amend County law by adding radon
testing results to the current list ofmandatory disclosures under Article III ofChapter 40 that
apply to persons selling residential properties in the County. Bill 35-15 would require that a
seller, before signing a contract for the sale ofa single-family home, provide the buyer with the
results ofa radon test that has been performed not more
than
one year before the date of that
contract. If those test results indicate the presence ofradon at levels of at least 4 picocuries per
liter then the seller must also deliver to the buyer an estimate, prepared by a licensed contractor,
of the cost ofradon remediation toa level below 2 picocuries per liter.
Radon is already listed among the hazardous materials that state law requires a seller
to
disclose to the buyerof a single-family home along with other defects of which the seller has
actual knowledge before entering into a sales contract.
See
Md. Code Ann., Real Prop.
§ 10-702
(e) (2) (vii) ("Single family homes; mandatory disclosures").
See also,
Md. Code Ann., Real
Prop.
§§
i
0-603 (a)
(l)
(iii)
("Disclosures required for unwarranted homes") and 10-604
(b)
(2)
(i) (''New home warranty provisions"). However, state law does not place upon the seller an
affirmative duty
to
discover the extent to which radon may be present in a single-family home
before executing a contract of sale for that home. Bill 35-15 seeks to remedy that by ensuring
that ifhigh levels ofradon are present in a single-family home, a purchaser will always be
informed about it before the sales contract is signed and also have some idea ofhow expensive it
101 Monroe Street, Rockville, Maryland 20850-2580
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Lisa Feldt
July 7,2015
Page 2
will be to attenuate the problem.
Having reviewed BiI131-15, I find
that
the legislation,
as
introduced, appears legally
sound and does not conflict with any provisions under state law that also impose disclosure
requirements upon sellers of single-family homes. There are no specific substantive changes that
I recommend. However, the one editorial change I would suggest is that "of the cost" be inserted
after "contractor"
at
line 16. If you have any questions or concerns regarding
this
memorandum,
please call me
at
(240) 777-6759.
cc:
Bonnie Kirkland, Office of the County Executive
Marc P. Hansen, County Attorney
Robert H. Drummer, Senior Legislative Attorney
®
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-
Coc.
ROCKVILLE, MARYlAND
s8~
LI....
1~~) !!~.
13
~..ri
It:
30
RECEIVED
!10NTGOMERY COUNTY
r.ml~Ir.IL
MEMORANDUM
JuJy 10,2015
TO:
FROM:
SUBJECT:
George
~ec.ident,
County Council ..
Jennife:1ti(uglies, Director, Office
ofManageme~
Joseph F. Beach, Director, Department of Finance
V
FEIS
for
Bill 31-1
S,
Sale of Real
Property ­
Radon Test - Single-family home
Please find attached the fiscal and economic impact statements
for
the above­
referenced legislation.
JAH:fi:
co: Bonnie Kirkland, Assistant Chief Administrative Officer
Lisa Austin, Offices of the County Executive
Joy Nurmi, Special Assistant to the
County
Executive
Patrick Lacefield, Director, Public Information Office
Joseph F. Beach, Director, Department of Finance
Lisa Feldt, Director, Department of Environmental Protection
David Platt, Department of Finance
Elyse Greenwald, Office of Management and Budget
Alex Espinosa, Office of Management and Budget
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Fiscal Impact Statement
Council Bill 31-15, Sale of Real Property ­
Radon Test - Single-family Home
1.
Legislative Summary.
Bill 31-15 would require the seller of a single-family home to test for radon and give the
buyer a copy of the radon test results.
It
would also require the seller to provide the buyer
with an estimate to reduce radon under certain circumstances.
2.
An
estimate ofchanges
in
County revenues and expenditures regardless of whether the
revenues or expenditures are assumed in the recommended or approved budget. Includes
source of infonnation, assumptions, and methodologies used.
Bill 31-15 would have no fiscal impact on the County.
3. Revenue and expenditure estimates covering at least the next 6 fiscal years.
Bil131-15 would have no fiscal impact on the County.
4.
An
actuarial analysis through the entire amortization period for each bill that would affect
retiree pension or group insurance costs.
This is not applicable to this Bill.
5.
An
estimate of expenditures related to County's infonnation technology
(IT)
systems,
including Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems.
'
This is not applicable to this Bill.
6. Later actions that may affect future revenue and expenditures if the bill authorizes future
spending.
This is not applicable to this Bill.
7.
An
estimate of the
staff
time needed to implement the bill.
Implementation of this Bill will require minimal staff time and can occur with DEP's
existing staffing complement.
8.
An
explanation ofhow the addition ofnew staff responsibilities would affect other duties.
The additional responsibilities will not affect other pre-existing duties.
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9.
An
estimate of costs when an additional appropriation is needed.
No additional appropriation is needed.
10. A description of any variable that could affect revenue and cost estimates.
This is not applicable to this Bill.
11. Ranges of revenue or expenditures that are uncertain or difficult to project
This is not applicable to this Bill.
12.
If
a bill is likely to have no fiscal impact, why that is the case.
This bill does not have a fiscal impact because no additional staff are required to
implement the legislation. The bill requires the seller to utilize a test kit "approved for
use by the [DEP] Director:' DEP does not have a certification program for radon test
devices. However, two non-profit industry organizations that certify mdon professionals
also provide certification lists for testing devices. These lists are on·line and DEP would
refer individuals to these lists. Therefore, there would be no cost of this requirement.
13. Other fiscal impacts or comments.
This is not applicable to this Bill.
14. The following contributed to and concurred
with
this analysis:
Stan Edwards, Department of Environmental Protection
Alex Espinosa, Office of Management anc;t Budget
Elyse Greenwald, Office of Management and Budget
7 /
If}
Jennifer A. Hughes, Director
Office of Management and Budget
Date
(7;.!J
{-S-
(j)
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Economic Impact Statement
BiJl31.15, Sale of Real Property - Radon Test - Single-Family Home
Background:
This legislation would require the seller ofa single-family home to test for radon and
provide the buyer with a copy of the test results. Bill 31-15 defmes a single-family home
as
either a single-family detached or an attached residential building. Bill 31-15 also
requires the seller to provide the buyer with a cost estimate from a licensed contractor to
reduce any radon level offour (4) picocuries per liter or more to less
than
two (2)
picocuries per liter. For purposes ofthis economic impact statement remediation and
mitigation refer to the same process.
1.
The
sources of information, assumptions, and methodologies used.
Sources of information include:
• Montgomery County Department of Environmental Protection (DEP),
• U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA),
• Metropolitan Regional Infonnation System, Inc. (MRIS),
• Greater Capital
Area
Association ofRealtors
(GCAAR),
• National Radon Program Services
(Kansas
State University), and
• National Radon Proficiency Program (NRPP: www.ru:pp.info/mitigation)
DEP provided information on the cost ofradon test kits and the cost from a certified
contractor. For the cost of the test kits, DEP's website provides a referral to the
National Radon Program Services (http://sosradon.org). According to that website,
the costs ofthe kit range from $15.00 for a short-term test of between three and four
days to $25.00 for a long-term test between
three
and twelve months. Bill 31-15
would require the seller of the home to test for radon and provide the buyer
with
the
results.
DEP noted that a radon remediation contractor
will
typically provide a
free
estimate
of the cost of installing a radon mitigation system in the home. This estimate is based
on the contractor's experience with installing systems, the age of the home, and the
characteristics of the
structure
of the home such
as
crawl
space,
concrete slab, and
presence of a sump pump. The National Radon Program Services also notes that the
cost ofa mitigation system varies according to the home's design, size, foundation,
construction materials and the local climate. If a radon test shows levels at or above
4
pCiIL,
EPA and DEP recommend that a homeowner use a certified radon remediation
contractor. According to NRPP. there
are
approximately twenty-three remediation
providers located
in
Maryland. The National Radon Program Services estimate that
radon reduction systems average costs nationally
are
$1,200 with a range from $800
to $1,500 depending on the characteristics of the home and market conditions. Part of
the mitigation cost
can
depend on the aesthetic value ofthe home such
as
whether
a
retrofit system routed outside the home
can
reduce radon but may not
be
visually
pleasing compared to the more expensive one routed through the home's interior. In
addition, the costs of mitigation would include operating costs that include electricity
Page
1
of3
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Economic Impact Statement
Bill 31-15, Sale of Real Property - Radon Test - Single-Family Home
for a fan and possible additional costs for heating and cooling as a result of some
percentage of air being
drawn
out of the home by the radon system.
According to the MRIS and GCAAR, there
are
a total of 2,783 active listings of
single homes and
604
condominium units on the June market in Montgomery County.
The June listings represent an increase of nearly ten percent from last year. There are
no data available to determine how many of these units would require a radon test
before being sold.
2. A description of any variable that could affect the economic impact estimates.
While data from
DEP
and National Radon Program Services provide cost estimates
for both the testing ofradon and remediation, the variables that could affect the
economic impact are the number of homes listed for sale that require both a radon test
and an estimate ofthe cost ofremediation. As stated previously, the cost of
remediation depends on the characteristics ofthe structure ofthe home and the
additional utility costs ofoperating the remediation system. While Bill 31-15
requires notification ofthe presence of radon
and
a cost estimate
to
remediate radon
in
the
home, the legislation does not require remediation ofradon
in
the home to an
approved level. However, the presence of high levels ofradon in a home for sale
could cause serious illness. Therefore, Bill 31-15 ensures
that
all homes for sale are
tested for radon and if high 1evels ofradon are present, that could have a deleterious
effect on the sale and/or sales price based on the cost ofremediation.
3. The Bill's positive or negative effect,
jf
any on employment, spending, savings,
investment, incomes, and property values in the County.
Even without a specific number of homes with the presence ofradon and data on the
specific costs to remediate existing homes for sale, Finance assumes that there could
be a positive economic effect on employment and incomes from remediation
companies located in the County. However, it is uncertain whether a home for sale
that
was
treated for radon would have
an
effect on the buyer's decision to purchase
that home or opt for a similar home that never
had
been remediated for radon.
Second, if the home for sale has radon above the standard acceptable level, Finance
asswnes that cost to remediate would be reflected in the sales prices ofthe home.
Who would bear that cost would be between the buyer and seller in negotiating the
sales/purchase price.
4.
If
a Bill is likely to have no economic impact, why is that the case?
Bill
31-15 could have an economic impact based on the conclusions in paragraph #3
Page 2 of3
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Economic Impact Statement
Bill
31-15,
Sale of Real Property -Radon Test - Single-Family Home
5. The following contributed to or concurred with this analysis: David Platt,
Mary
Casciotti, and Rob Hagedoom, Finance; Stan Edwards,
Department
of
Environmental
Protection.
Date'
Page 3 of3
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Policy Brief:
State and Local Policies for Preventing Exposure to Radon
Protracted radon exposure causes lung cancer.
Radon-222 (hereafter called radon) is a colorless, odorless, tasteless, radioactive gas, produced
naturally in rocks and soil by the decay of uranium-238 and subsequently radium-226. Radon,
with a radioactive half-life of about four days, enters homes and other buildings through cracks
and penetrations in the building foundation. Radon gas usually exists at lower concentrations
outdoors, but radon is typically present at a higher concentration indoors. A high radon gas
concentration in a home or workplace increases the risk of radon-related lung cancer. Radon is
the number one cause oflung cancer among individuals who have never smoked, and the second
leading cause oflung cancer overall.
Radon is one of the most extensively studied environmental carcinogens, and the diversity and
consistency of findings provide overwhelming evidence that protracted radon exposure is the
leading environmental cause of cancer mortality in the United States:
• The National Academy of Science's National Research Council estimated that 66% of radon­
induced lung cancers occur below the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA's)
radon action level of 4 picocuries per liter (PCiIL) of air (148 Bq/m3).
• EPA estimated, in 1995, that protracted residential radon exposure to 1.3 pCiIL (48
Bq/m3),
the U.S. mean residential radon concentration, results in 21,000 radon-related lung cancer
deaths each year in the U.S. Additional deaths are likely due to exposures in schools,
workplaces, and other non- residential buildings, plus increases since 1995 in population and
the number of new homes with high levels of radon that were added to the housing stock. In
some states, such as Iowa, test results from over 70% of all measured homes exceed the
EPA's radon action level.
• On an annual basis, if considered its -own disease category, radon-induced lung cancer would
be the eighth leading cause of cancer mortality in the U. S.
The 21,000 annual lung cancer deaths were projected from studies ofunderground miners
exposed to radon. However, recent research has focused on measuring the effect of residential
radon exposure on lung cancer risk by comparing radon levels in the homes of people who have
lung cancer with radon in homes where no one
has
developed lung cancer. The findings of these
case-control epidemiologic studies, which directly examined the risk oflung cancer in the
residential setting, were in close agreement with the projections from miners.
Testing is the only way to know if a person's home has elevated radon levels. Indoor radon
levels are affected by the soil composition under and around the home, and the pathways through
which radon and other soil gas may enter the home. Homes that are next door to each other can
have different indoor radon levels, making a neighbor'S test result an imprecise predictor of
radon risk. Elevated indoor radon levels can be mitigated by a properly certified professional,
and the risk of radon entry can be reduced when a home builder uses up-to-date consensus
standards, for radon resistant new construction, approved by the American National Standards
Institute (ANSI).
July 2015
www.aarst.org
1
@
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The U.S. EPA and the U.S. Surgeon General recommend taking action to reduce indoor radon
levels in homes that have a radon level at or above 4 pCiIL. This action level is not health-based;
indeed, there is no known safe level of radon.
In
1988, the U.S. Congress set a long-term goal
that indoor radon levels be no more than the outdoor level (Le., 0.4 pCi/L or 15 Bq!m\ The
President's Cancer Panel recommended in 2009 that EPA consider lowering the action level,
based on current radon-related cancer risk data. While the goal of reducing radon in homes to 0.4
pCi/L or below is not yet technologically achievable, the radon concentrations in most homes
today can be reduced to 2 pCi/L or below (74 Bq!m
3).
The World Health Organization (WHO)
has set a recommended radon reference level of 100 Bq!m
3
(2.7 pCi/L) for WHO member
countries. U.S. implementation of the WHO recommendation would eventually prevent about
5,500 radon-related lung cancer deaths annually.
Data from a nationwide radon study performed by state radon programs and EPA over 25 years
ago suggested that 1 in 15 U.S. homes have radon levels at or above EPA's action leveL More
recent state radon program data indicate that in some states, the proportion of homes exceeding
EPA's action level is much greater.
The evidence that radon kills people through lung cancer is clear.
The solution is prevention. Test and mitigate existing homes, build
radon out ofnew homes.
Proactive Policies:
Every State and Community Can Save Lives
The primary policy levers for preventing radon exposure are radon-resistant new construction,
radon testing, disclosure and n9tification, and radon professional licensing. Each ofthese
policies will contribute to the cause; together they present a winning combination to protect
occupants of all homes.
Sample Legislative Intent
The Legislature recognizes that radon is an odorless, colorless, tasteless, and radioactive gas that
occurs naturally in soil and groundwater; that radon enters homes and buildings through openings in
foundations, decays to form radon progeny, and unless vented to the atmosphere, accumulates in
buildings and becomes hazardous to human health. Prolonged exposure to elevated concentrations of
radon decay products has been associated with increases in the risk of lung cancer. The Legislature
recognizes that there is a need to protect human health and prevent exposure to elevated
concentrations of radon and a higher risk of mortality from lung cancer.
Policy: Radon Resistant New Construction (RRNC)
It
is possible and practical to build a new home to prevent elevated levels of radon gas, which
exists in the ground, from entering the home.
In
brief, the evidence-based physical interventions
that prevent radon entry into the living space are (1) channeling radon from below the ground
and foundation into a pipe that exhausts safely to the outdoors and (2) sealing the foundation and
other building components so radon can't go around the pipe to enter the home. State laws and
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regulations require that builders use radon-resistant construction methods in eight states (IL MA
MDMIMNNJOR WA).
Elements of an RRNC law include:
• StandardlMethodology. A state or local government can enact RRNC by changing the
building code to require Appendix F of the International Residential Code (IRC), the
consensus standard ANSI-AARST CCAH, or both.
• Performance Assurance Options
o Fan. Electrical connection rough-in (passive system) or fan installation and activation
(active system).
o Radon Test Test result, provision of a radon test kit, or information to get testing.
• Geographic Scope. A state or local policy can cover homes in all areas or focus on counties
that have been designated high and moderate risk zones based on average radon data. Since
homes in all zones have been found to have high radon levels, two states protect homes in all
areas regardless of radon risk designation.
• Type of Housing Covered. Three states protect all types of housing; four states limit
protection to the types of homes covered by the IRC, which is the only commonly adopted
model code that contains a radon policy.
State-Wide RRNC Policies in the US
Housing Type(s)
Radon Risk Zone* RRNC Standard
All
All
Appendix F amended
One and Two Family Zone 1
Appendix F and ANSI CCAH
One and Two Family Zone 1
"
F
One and Two Family Zone 1
Appendix F
One and Two Family All
. Appendix F amended
Similar to Appendix F
All
Zone 1
One and Two Family;
Zone 1
Appendix F amended
Apartments
All
Zone 1
AppendixF
State
IL
MA
MD
MI
MN
NJ
OR
WA
Policy: Testing of Existing Homes
Since radon testing is the only way to determine whether an existing building'S radon level is
below the maximum standard - currently 4.0 picocuries/liter (PCilL) - testing policies are
considered definitive homebuyer and renter protections in terms of awareness. Without test
results, the household considering moving has no way to know whether occupying this home
will increase their family'S risk oflung cancer. Although several states have testing policies for
schools (CO CT FL IA MN NJ OR RI VA WA WV), no state has enacted a testing law for
homes.
Elements of a testing law include:
• Testing. Prior to the sale or rental of a residential property, the property owner shall have the
property tested for radon gas ­
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o According to theANSIIAARST Protocol for Conducting Radon and Radon Decay
Products Measurements in Homes (ANSIIAARST MAH)
o By a state-licensed or certified radon measurement professional.
Disclosure.
The property owner shall provide results of radon testing to the prospective
buyer or renter with the contract or lease. Test results shall be no older than a year preceding
the date of the contract or lease.
Radon Awareness.
The property owner shall provide information with the contract or lease
about the risks of radon to the prospective buyer or renter through a radon warning statement
and a publication such as EPA's Homebuyers' and Sellers' Guide
http://www.epa.gov/radon/pubs/hmbyguid.html
Mitigation and Mitigation Estimate/ Sale Termination Option.
Ifthe test of a home for
sale reveals that radon is present indoors at a level in excess of 4.0 (PCilL) picocuries per
liter of air, the property owner shall either
(1)
mitigate, repair, or alter the premises to reduce
the radon level to below 2.0 pCiIL, or (2) provide the purchaser with an estimate of the cost
of mitigation and permit the prospective buyer to terminate the sale agreement without loss
of any earnest money or down payment.
Mitigation or Rental Termination Option.
If the test of a home for rent reveals that radon
is present indoors at a level in excess of4.0 (pC
ilL)
picocuries per liter of air, the property
owner shall mitigate, repair, or alter the premises to reduce the radon level to below 2.0
pCi/L or permit the prospective renter to terminate the rental agreement without loss of any
security deposit, advance rent, or application fee.
Real Estate Agent.
The property owner may convey the disclosure, radon awareness
information, and mitigation/termination option through a real estate agent representing or
assisting the prospective buyer or renter so long as the real estate agent provides a copy to the
prospective buyer or renter.
Current
Leases:
The
owner of a currently occupied rental property shall have the property
tested for radon gas and provide the results of radon testing to the renter. If the test reveals
that radon is present indoors at a level in excess of 4.0 (PCilL) picocuries per liter of air, the
property owner shall either mitigate or permit the renter to terminate the rental agreement
without loss of any security deposit or any other financial penalty.
Policy: Disclosure and Radon Awareness
Many people purchase a home without knowing about radon or ifhigh levels ofradon exist in the
home. A homebuyer or renter needs complete information about radon ,n order to make an
informed decision. Where a testing requirement (above) is not feasible, required disclosure of
property-specific radon information and provision of radon awareness will ensure that all
prospective buyers and renters have a minimal knowledge base to protect their families. Since
their inception five or more years ago, radon awareness policies in two states (IL MN) have
increased risk reduction without impeding home sales.
Elements of a disclosure/awareness law include:
• Disclosure.
Prior to the sale or rental of a residential property, the property owner shall
disclose in writing to the buyer or renter any knowledge of radon gas such as:
o whether radon testing has occurred and current records pertaining to radon concentrations
o a description of any radon concentrations, mitigation, or remediation
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o information regarding the radon mitigation system, including system description and
documentation, if such system has been installed in the dwelling
• Radon Awareness.
The property owner shall provide a radon warning statement (sample
below) and other information about the risks of radon to the prospective buyer or renter.
Sample Radon Warning Statement
The
(title ofdepartment or commissioner)
of
(state or locality)
strongly recommends that ALL homebuyers have
an indoor radon test perfonned prior to purchase or taking occupancy, and recommends having the radon levels
mitigated if elevated radon concentrations are found. Elevated radon concentrations can easily be reduced by a
qualified, certified, or licensed, if applicable, radon mitigator.
Every buyer of any interest in residential real property is notified that the property may present exposure to
dangerous levels of indoor radon gas that may place the occupants at risk of developing radon-induced lung
cancer. Radon, a Class A human carcinogen, is the leading cause oflung cancer in nonsmokers and the second
leading cause overall. The seller of any interest in residential real property is required
to
provide the buyer with
any infonnation on radon test results of the dwelling.
• Transaction Types.
The disclosure requirements shall apply to the transfer of any interest in
residential real estate, whether by sale, exchange, deed, contract for deed, lease, lease with an
option to purchase, or any other option.
• Real Estate Agent.
The property owner may convey the disclosure and radon awareness
information through a real estate agent representing or assisting the prospective buyer or
renter so long as the real estate agent provides a copy to the prospective buyer.
Policy: Professional Licensure
In
order to provide accurate and consistent results from testing and deliver effective mitigation
that reduces radon levels, evidence-based standards and a cadre of trained certified professionals
have emerged over the past decades. Radon exposure is a complex building problem that
demands personnel who are appropriately trained and following recognized standards: horror
stories (with photos) of costly ineffective systems abound. There is no federal program
regulating radon services, but states and private national certification protect the public. Around
20 states have certification requirements for personnel doing radon testing and mitigation work.
While a few operate in-state programs, other states require that radon work be performed by
persons who have earned recognition from a national recognized certification program that has
ongoing requirements for at least biennial recertification.
Elements of a radon licensing law include:
• State Radon Program Authorization.
The program shall administer certifications, collect
fees, receive federal and state funds, and have necessary staff and equipment.
• Licensing.
The state radon program shall establish and implement criteria, based on
standards and ethical requirements promulgated by the US EPA, the American National
Standards Institute (ANSI), and an ANSI national standards accredited developer, for
mandatory licensure and certification of persons involved in the following services pertaining
to radon:
o Screening sampling/testing of air or water,
o Diagnostic sampling/testing of air or water,
o Mitigation and mitigation planning services, and
o Training courses to meet the licensing and certification requirements.
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• Certification and Standards Requirement:
To provide radon services, a person shall be
licensed by the state radon program or certified by the National Radon Proficiency Program,
or an EPA-recognized accrediting organization, and must adhere to recognized consensus
standards.
• Testing.
The program shall promote a radon/radon progeny testing program.
• Public Information.
The program shall provide information over the phone, in-person and
in writing regarding radon/radon progeny health effects, the necessity for testing buildings,
recommended practices for reducing elevated levels of radon, availability of certified
personnel, and related issues.
Getting Started, or Needing Help with a Hot Radon Policy Question?
The AARST community is available to help. Please contact Jane Malone jmalone@aarst.org
so we can learn what you're considering. AARST can provide legislative language, technical
advice, and connections to AARST chapters and other allies.
The American Association of Radon Scientists and Professionals is a nonprofit, professional
• organization of members who are dedicated to the highest standard of excellence and ethical
. performance of radon measurement, radon mitigation and transfer of radon information for
I
the benefit of members, consumers and the public
at
large.
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Radon is estimated to cause thousands of lung cancer
deaths in the
u.s.
each year
(Information Provided
By:
US Environmental Protection Agency)
21~OOO
deaths
;per
year
RADON·
Drunk
Fa,lls In
Drown
Ings
Home
Driving
the Hom
e
Fi res
..
The numbers of deaths from other causes are taken from the Centers of Disease Control
and Prevention's 2005-2006 National Center for Injury Prevention and Control Report
and 2006 National Safety Council Reports.
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July 21,2015
County Council President George Leventhal
100 Maryland Avenue
Rockville, MD 20850
He: Bill
31-15,
"Sale ofReal Property
-
Radon Test
-
Single-family home"
Dear Council President Leventhal and members of the Council:
I am writing to you on behalf of the Greater Capital Area Association ofREALTORS®
("GCAAR") - the voice of Montgomery County and the District of Columbia's more than 8,500
REALTORS®, property managers, title attorneys and other real estate professionals. On behalf
of GCAAR, I would like to voice our concerns and opposition for Bill 31-15,
"Sale ofReal
Property
-
Radon Test Single-family home,
"
as it is currently drafted.
GCAAR fully understands the importance of ensuring Montgomery County homes and
communities are safe from hazards. Our members go to great lengths to include comprehensive
disclosure statements in our standard property sale contracts based not only on existing law, but
also best practices. Inclusive disclosures are actually preferred to encourage sellers to be
forthcoming about their properties' conditions, such as environmental hazards.
On the other hand, disclosure and mandatory testing requirements, which have not been
thoroughly vetted, lead to confusion in the housing market and costly litigation. GCAAR
currently has a
"Radon Testing Notice and/or AddendumlRelease"
form (see attached
GCAAR Form 1363) that is used by many of our members when they are listing properties.
It
is
not a required form but it has become common practice for many to automatically include it in
all listing agreements so that the buyers can understand if there is a presence ofradon or to gain
more understanding about radon through a
link
provided to the EPA on radon. We would
strongly recommend that this remain a "recommended" form and not a mandatory form.
While we understand the possible need to disclose the presence of known radon or the results of
any testing that has been conducted, to require mandatory testing at the time of sale, we do not
believe is practical and in fact might complicate the transaction further. There is already a lot of
confusion amongst buyers as to what radon even is, how to remediate it and who to even call.
Therefore, we actually feel it would be more prudent to require an educational disclosure of
information tied in with the current GCAAR Form 1363 that would help buyers make a more
educated decision and then leave the negotiation up to the buyer and seller in the private real
estate transaction whether a radon test and remediation should be done. GCAAR has also
already met a few months back with the County Executive's Energy and Air Quality Advisory
Committee about radon and strongly recommended we work together to provide educational
disclosures instead of mandatory testing.
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If the goal is to educate and infonn residents of the risks associated with possible radon
exposure, increased education requirements and visibility of infonnation on radon are just a
couple ways to achieve this. This way, they can independently assess the risks associated with
radon presence or exposure. We would
be
glad to work with the Council on incorporating a
disclosure of known radon and also facilitate the incorporation of an educational pamphlet or
links to more infonnation from the EPA as opposed to mandating testing, where test results may
not
be
accurate.
While we believe that this bill has a lot of merit and radon is something that should be taken
seriously, the real estate transaction is already a very difficult and complicated process today.
The laws relating to sale and lease of a property are VERY distinct. Having another testing and
disclosure fonn can lead to disorderly and complicated transactions.
Finally, we are concerned that there are not enough "certified radon testers" in the DC metro area
that can properly conduct a real accurate radon test.
It
is also our understanding that the radon
test kits do not give aCcurate readings and therefore could
be
misleading. Currently, when a
buyer asks for a radon test, per the current GCAAR addendum, our members recommend that
they use a "Certified Radon Inspector." So in tum, they get a full and accurate reading and can
decide what if anything must
be
remediated.
Overall, we commend your efforts to make homes healthier. We also appreciate Councilmember
Rice reaching out to GCAAR so that we can have an open discussion about current practices and
ways to improve them. Nonetheless, if the goal is to raise awareness in Montgomery County that
radon may be a serious problem in the home, we would argue that the best practice is education
not mandated testing right now.
GCAAR is pleased to continue working with Councilmembers and staff to improve upon Bill 31­
15 and thank you for consideration of our views.
Sincerely,
Meredith
R.
Weisel, Esq.
GCAAR Government Relations Consultant
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lB
REAlTOR!!!>
Radon Testing Notice and/or AddendumlRelease
(For use in Montgomery County, MD and the District ofColumbia)
OP,"OWTUNITY
REGARDING the Contract dated the --:--_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ on Lot _ _
->'
Block/Square _ _-" Unit:...--_ _
in the subdivision/condominium project known
located
between
and
--,----_ _..,-:-_-,--_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _-,-_ _ _ _ (Seller): In
the event this Notice becomes an Addendum, the provisions of this Addendum shall supersede anything to the contrary contained
elsewhere in the Contract. To learn more about the potential effects of radon and remediation visit the EPA's website at
www.epa.gov/radon.
the undersigned Buyer hereby provides a copy of the radon testing report which confirms the presence of radon that equals or
exceeds the action level established by the EPA and (must select either A or B):
o
A. Agrees to remove the Radon Inspection Contingency in exchange for either 1 or 2:
o
1.
02.
Seller's agreement to remediate the radon condition at Seller's expense prior
to
settlement by contracting with an
NRSB or
NEHA
listed remediation firm and to provide Buyer written verification that the required remediation has been
performed (which shall include test results following such remediation demOIistrating that the presence ofradon is below t he
action level established by the EPA).
OR
Seller's agreement to provide a credit towards Buyer's closing costs in the amount of
$_ _ _ _ _ _ __
It
is the Buyer's responsibility to confirm with his lender, if applicable, that the entire credit provided for herein may
be utilized. If lender prohibits Seller from payment of any portion of this credit, then said credit shall be reduced
to
the
amount allowed by lender. This credit shaH be in addition to any other amount(s) Seller has agreed to pay under other
provisions of this Contract.
Buyer understands that radon gas has the potential
to
cause serious health problems. Buyer acknowledges and agrees that in
exchange for Seller providing a credit, Buyer is solely responsible for any radon remediation and assumes any associated
health risks caused by radon in or around the Property. Further, Buyer does hereby release, indemnify, hold harmless
and forever discharge Seller, as owner of the Property and separately, the real estate broker, and its officers, employees,
agents, successors and assigns, from any and all claims, liabilities, or causes ofaction ofany kind that Buyer may now have,
or at any time in the future may have, resulting from the presence of radon in, on or around the Property .
DB. Declares this Contract void (only if permitted by the Radon Inspection Contingency).
The Radon Inspection Contingency provides that failure of any party to respond within
3
Days after Delivery of Notice
requiring remediation and/or a credit towards closing costs (as provided in paragraphs
1
and/or
2
above) will result in
acceptance by both parties of the terms of the most recent Notice.
Date
Buyer
Date
Date
Buyer
Date
C2008, The Greater Capital Area Association of REALTORS"', Inc.
This Recommended Form is the property of The Greater Capital Area Association of REALTORS"', Inc. and is for
use
by
members only.
Previous editions of this Form should
be
destroyed.
GCAAR Form#J363 - MC
&
DC-
Radon Testing Notice
10fl
1012008 (edited 1212008)