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Radon in Rental Housing: Legal and Policy Strategies for Reducing Health Risks

September 1996

Citation: 26 ELR 10466

Issue: 9

Author: Tobie Bernstein

Over the past several years, considerable public and private efforts in this country have been directed at reducing the risk of cancer that human exposure to high levels of radon gas poses. These efforts appear to have succeeded in raising public awareness of radon and in increasing testing for radon.1 For the most part, however, these efforts have been directed toward homeowners and have not addressed the problem of radon in residential rental properties. Yet in 1989, nearly 34 million homes—over one-third of all housing units in the country—were rental units.2 The vast majority of these units are either single-family homes or are located at or below the second floor of a building, where experts believe radon is concentrated.3 This Dialogue explores the problem of high radon levels in rental housing and discusses some of the legal and policy tools available for reducing radon risks.

Tobie Bernstein is a Senior Attorney at the Environmental Law Institute. Previously, she was Staff Attorney at the Legal Aid Bureau, Inc. of Southern Maryland. Ms. Bernstein received a J.D. from Harvard University and a B.A. from Washington University. The author would like to thank her colleagues Paul A. Locke, Elissa Parker, and Philip Warburg for their valuable assistance.

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