Cost Effectiveness of Residential Radon Remediation with Household Mobility

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Johnson, Erik P.
Courant, Paul N.
Mendez, David
Warner , Kenneth E.
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The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that exposure to residential radon causes 7,000 to 30,000 lung cancer deaths per year. The EPA has provided extensive technical analysis of and support for their recommended policy response of remediating all homes above a threshold level of radon, but these and other benefit-cost analyses typically do not consider many important dimensions of household heterogeneity, specifically residential mobility. We add to the literature on benefit-cost analysis by using agent based models that allow for heterogeneous benefits. Using this model, we re-examine the EPA’s recommendations for radon remediation. Since there is both a capital and an annual cost of radon remediation, many well informed households are better off not complying with the EPA’s recommendation. We find that most households are better of by not paying the annual cost of remediation and that only the least mobile households with smokers would undertake the capital cost of radon remediation in houses with very high radon concentrations. Since only a small fraction of the population values radon remediation, our model suggests that approximately 10% of the capital cost is likely to be capitalized into the resale value of the house.
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