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June 14, 2011

USDA Loans, Grants Can Defray Cost for Radon Mitigation in Rural Low-Income Homes
IEMA Encourages People to See If They Qualify

SPRINGFIELD – The Illinois Emergency Management Agency (IEMA) strongly encourages everyone in Illinois to test their home for radon, a naturally occurring radioactive gas known to cause lung cancer.  Thousands of people have tested their homes, and nearly 40 percent were found to have high levels of radon.  Those levels can be reduced by installing a radon mitigation system for around $800-1,200.  But for people with fixed or lower incomes the cost may prevent them from fixing the problem.

In rural areas of Illinois, one solution to that problem may be a U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) home repair loan or grant.  To qualify for a Rural Development repair loan, a qualified homeowner must live in or around a community of less than 20,000 residents.  The home repair loans have a low interest rate of one percent and may be paid over 20 years.  In addition, home repair grants may be available for homeowners 62 years of age or older that meet the low income guidelines.

“These loans and grants could help many people in rural Illinois reduce the radon hazard in their homes,” said IEMA Director Jonathon Monken.  “I encourage people who may qualify for this program to contact USDA and get more information.”

Radon is a colorless, odorless, tasteless gas that comes from the radioactive decay of naturally-occurring uranium in the soil.  It can enter homes and buildings through small cracks in the foundation, sump pumps or soil in crawlspaces.  The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) has determined that radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer, behind smoking.  However, among non-smokers, radon is the leading cause of lung cancer. 

USEPA recommends reducing radon concentrations at or above 4.0 picocuries per liter (pCi/L).  A radon mitigation system should be installed by a professional radon contractor licensed by IEMA.  A list of licensed contractors and more information about radon in Illinois is available at www.Radon.Illinois.gov or by calling the Radon Hotline at (800) 325-1245.

To learn more about the home repair loans and grants, visit the Rural Development website at http://www.rurdev.usda.gov/IL_ContactUS.html or call 217-403-6202. 


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