Mold and inadequate radon gas detection are posing “serious health hazards” to servicemembers living on military bases, the Defense Department Inspector General said in a report detailing 1,057 code violations in Japan base housing.
The report found elevated levels of radon — a naturally occurring gas associated with lung cancer — in multiple buildings throughout Japan, including one at Yokosuka Naval Base that registered nearly six times higher than recommended government limits.
The findings in Japan underscored what the IG stated was a problem affecting the military worldwide: The Defense Department has no uniform standards for detecting and fighting two serious health hazards.
“Based on our inspection, the significant presence of mold and DOD’s current ad hoc approach to radon mitigation places unnecessary risk on the warfighter and their dependents,” according to the report, released Wednesday.
The IG called for Pentagon-level instructions to detect and remedy both excessive mold and radon, but was rebuffed by John Conger, acting deputy undersecretary of defense for installations and environment.
Conger stated that the services’ differing standards “reflects the continuing evolution in the knowledge of health risk assessment.”
“Because there is no U.S. federal standard for radon or mold in the U.S., there is no standard that would be applicable to U.S. facilities outside the U.S,” Conger wrote in a July 24 memo.
The IG disagreed, citing several federal laws and standards calling for radon mitigation in federal buildings within U.S. borders. Stating a firm belief that “serious health hazards such as these need to be addressed,” the IG called for further comment from the Pentagon by Oct. 31.