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Lead Paint, Asbestos Mitigation Plans Fall Short in Military Family Housing, IG Finds

Date Published: 05/05/2020 [Source]

Military families living in 38,000 housing units owned and operated by the U.S. government face health and safety risks such as lead-based paint, asbestos, radon and contaminated drinking water because the services have failed to monitor these threatening living conditions, the Defense Department's Inspector General found.

Inspectors at seven bases overseas and one in the U.S. found flaking paint that may have carried lead in homes, as well as materials that contained asbestos. They also uncovered problems with the management and mitigation of radon, the naturally occurring element that can seep into homes through foundations and cause lung cancer, and failures in monitoring drinking water supplies.

Inspectors looked at the installations' management processes and record-keeping on programs to mitigate nine health and safety hazards, including lead-based paint; materials containing asbestos; radon; fire and electrical safety; water quality; window fall prevention; mold; carbon monoxide; and pest management.

The inspectors found that, for the most part, the installations sufficiently managed electrical systems and fire hazards, as well as mold, carbon monoxide, pests and window fall prevention.

According to the report, installation officials "established and implemented policies and procedures to identify, mitigate or minimize, monitor, disclose, and oversee the aforementioned health and safety hazards," including educating residents on mold prevention -- one of the most common complaints from families who live in privatized military housing.

But for lead, asbestos and other hazards, DoD inspectors found widespread issues. For example, they found that residents did not receive pamphlets on lead-based paint required by the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Housing and Urban Development. They discovered that just three bases had active asbestos mitigation programs, while only two notified their residents of asbestos-containing materials in their homes. And only one, Wright- Patterson, had long-term radon mitigation, although five of the eight had conducted radon screening and testing in their homes.