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An example of successful dialogue

This is the second post in a two-part blog on the Radon Stakeholder Dialogue. Read the first post: Reflections from the Radon Stakeholder Dialogue Facilitator.

When I first started working with the Radon community, one of the biggest concerns raised was the existence of two competing voluntary standards for radon mitigation. People feared consumer confusion, continuing competition between the two organizations who set the standards, and conflict for education programs and certification programs – who would have to choose which to teach and test – and regulated states – who might adopt one standard but work with professionals trained in the other. And even deeper challenges –poor relationships, ineffective communication, bad history, and lack of trust among parties – underlay the dispute.

This became one of our first key issues to address once the Stakeholder Dialogue convened. We began with participants communicating their perspectives and concerns, and really hearing those of others. Intense discussions followed, surfacing and clarifying motivations, fears, core values, and underlying interests. Eventually, misunderstandings were clarified, and trust began to build. Thus the agreement to harmonize the two mitigation standards: this addresses concerns about the confusing effects on mitigators, consumers, and states of competing standards, while also addressing concerns of those dissatisfied with the openness and transparency of the initial processes used to develop each standard. The current harmonization effort seeks to revise the ASTM E-2121 within the institutional structure of ASTM, but using a more accessible, open,
and participatory process developed in collaboration and with active participation of the leaders of the Standards consortium. The outcome of this process, if it succeeds, will be one mitigation standard that can be embraced by the whole radon community.