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Inspector General Report Finds Widespread Hazards at Military Housing

The Office of the Inspector General found fire, electrical and environmental deficiencies, such as the mold shown here in a building in South Korea, according to an October report. (Courtesy Of The Inspector General)
The Office of the Inspector General found fire, electrical and environmental deficiencies, such as the mold shown here in a building in South Korea, according to an October report. (Courtesy Of The Inspector General)

Servicemembers and their families are exposed to health and safety hazards at base housing worldwide that could be alleviated by inspections and better maintenance, the Defense Department's Inspector General said in a recent report.

Inspectors found an average of two to three electrical and fire prevention deficiencies per building among the housing it inspected from 2013-16 in six places: the Washington, D.C. region, the U.S. Southeast, South Korea, Japan, Afghanistan and Jordan.

In multiple cases, inspectors found high levels of radon gas, which is the second-leading cause of lung cancer in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Other inspections found excessive mold, which can cause respiratory illnesses.

The October report found "systemic weaknesses" in DOD policy, which requires periodic building inspections.

"However, none of these inspections comprehensively examine the effectiveness of facility sustainment processes with respect to the overall health and safety of occupants," the report said.

Exposed wiring, faulty smoke detectors and ventilation issues were among the most pervasive problems found.

Among all areas inspected, radon exceeding government safety limits was most likely to be found on Okinawa.

In a Stars and Stripes article published last year, servicemembers said they had difficulty going back to at least 2011 in either finding out if their homes exceeded radon standards, or in getting the problems fixed.

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