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Collaboration Leads to Success at International Code Council Hearings

Contributed by Kim Steves (KS)

Every three years, the International Code Council (ICC) evaluates and revises the content going into the International Residential Building Code (IRC). The new version of the IRC is then adopted by many states, counties and/or cities/towns. Radon Resistant New Construction building codes are included in Appendix F of the IRC.

Collaboration among the Conference of Radiation Program Directors (CRCPD), the American Association of Radon Scientists and Technologists (AARST) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) through submittal of written comments and testifying in person at the hearings led to supporting votes at the ICC public comment hearings October 26 in Las Vegas to (1) require testing of radon control means installed according to Appendix F of the International Residential Code and (2) exclude from Appendix F an option for sidewall venting of radon systems in new homes.

1. Adding a testing requirement to Appendix F – RB289-19: This proposal would add a radon testing requirement post-installation of the radon system. This is an important component to ensure the radon resistant new construction systems are working properly to reduce radon levels below the action level. The CRCPD, EPA and AARST all supported this proposal.

2. Rejecting sidewall venting and interior radon fans: This proposal would add to Appendix F an option for side-wall venting of radon gas with a radon fan inside the living space of the home activating the system. There are very strong concerns that this modification to the radon system codes, which was proposed by the National Association of Homebuilders, would increase ground-level radon exposure risk and increase indoor radon exposure risk. This proposal would also be illegal in the states which have regulatory programs for radon mitigation, and it conflicts with the accepted national mitigation standards for the U.S. The CRCPD and AARST testified in disapproval of this proposal.

On October 25-26, Joshua Kerber (CRCPD/MN), Kim Steves (CRCPD/KS), Jane Malone (AARST), Dave Kapturowski (AARST), Gary Hodgden (Midwest Radon/AARST), Thomas Bowles (EPA) attended the ICC Hearings and provided in-person testimony pertaining to these two proposals. The group successfully testified as a team and were successful in winning the vote to disapprove the sidewall venting proposal and approve the post-installation radon test proposal. These two proposals are still undergoing online voting by code officials who were not in attendance at the ICC Hearings, but this was a significant win and should heavily influence the online voters. Thanks also goes to Don Sivigny (Minnesota Building Code Official) for his support and testimony during the hearings and to Bruce Snead (Kansas State University) and William Angell for important advance work.

The next step in the ICC process Is online voting for two weeks in mid- to late November, when hundreds of code officials who did not attend the hearing will add their votes. Radon professionals, public health advocates, and everyone concerned about preventing radon-induced lung cancer by reducing risk in new US homes are encouraged to educate code officials about the necessity of testing and the danger of unproven sidewall venting methods. Please contact nationalpolicy@aarst.org for info about how to contact code official voters and the specific messages to communicate.