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We are wrapping up Warren County's three-month long Radon Grant by distributing 180 short term radon kits to the general public to Warren County residents. We then received the results from most of those radon kits and sent follow-up letters to those with high results over 4 picocuries per liter. Some called and discussed the next step in the process and then directed to procedures of the Iowa Department of Public Health and a list of certified radon mitigators.
On January 26th, the media station WBRE in Wilkes-Barre PA agreed to host radon professionals from the Department of Environmental Protection for a call-in program. Participants were on air for two hours doing occasional on-camera interviews and answering viewers' calls. The program reached approximately 19 counties and 1.5 million viewers! (*From left to right in the photograph are Paul Houle, Kevin Stewart, Matt Shields, and Andrew Taverna)
Winnebago County, Iowa does a lot to make the public aware of the hidden dangers of radon. Each year we print articles in the local newspapers and distribute public service announcements to the local radio station. Last year we partnered with a local farmers coop to give out 300 free radon test kits. This year we obtained a radon grant to give out 180 free radon test kits. We gave them to county schools and their staff. We also tested Waldorf College dorms, Day care centers, Public Health staff, and Mosaic. We also partnered with the local YMCA and the 3M manufacturing company to make employees aware of the risks posed by radon. 3M is also giving employees free radon kits.
I have held informational meetings with the public, Public Health staff, YMCA, 3M employees and people who have high radon levels in their homes.
We had some notable successes in Montgomery County Maryland in January. I chair the Energy & Air Quality Advisory Committee that advises the County Council and County Executive (CE). We worked last year to get the county to designate January as radon action month to align with EPA's designation and our CE Ike Leggett issued a proclamation and news release on the importance of testing for radon. This year we strove to do more outreach and used the EPA kids' contest poster winner to make a County-specific poster, hundreds of which were put up in county schools, libraries, government buildings and facilities. I also reached out to Hardware Stores and helped them put them up both where they had radon test kits available on the shelves and near their doors. I received very good responses from store managers when I observed that their supplies of test kits were running low, a visit two or three days later confirmed that they had re-stocked.
Radon Professionals - we know that communicating with physicians to inspire them to advocate for radon testing as a key prevention step for their patients is a challenge. In Kansas we have benefited from having the Secretary of Kansas Department of Health and the Environment (KDHE) being a physician and championing this issue. Here is the summary of what has happened in association with Kansas Radon Action Month and the letter he sent to all KS family physicians on radon.
During National Radon Action Month, the Alabama Cooperative Extension System (ACES) and Cheaha Regional Head Start led educational workshops for parents, volunteers and staff. The workshops emphasized the importance of radon testing and encouraged attendees to take action and test their homes for radon.
For the past five years, the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) has generated radon awareness by providing test kits to local public health and non-profit organizations. This year MDH outdid previous efforts as they were able to distribute 8,250 short term radon test kits throughout Minnesota!
Using State Indoor Radon Grant (SIRG) funding from EPA, MDH shipped radon test kits and outreach materials to partner organizations in approximately half of the counties in the state. MDH partners then distributed the kits to local residents using the outreach materials to raise awareness in their communities. Partners were able to sell the test kits to generate revenue and cover their staff costs for this effort.
We participated in the Pennsylvania Farm Show with the Department of Environmental Protection's Educational Green Home Display--a display that has since been entered in national competition (the Modular Exhibit Design or "MOD" Awards) for Best Graphics!
As of January 1, 2013, the Ohio EPA instituted changes to its radon program to promote outreach and awareness. In an effort to better educate the local real estate professionals on new rule changes my company has made contact with more than 300 real estate agents and company representatives to brief them on the impacts of these rules on their practices and organizations.
A number of agents who have been through the radon education seminars we provide have until now shown little interest. With the onset of the new rules and our explanations and outreach, interest in radon during the month of January 2013 has peaked tremendously. Our company has two licensed radon professionals on staff and in recent weeks have held multiple meetings with various local companies anxious to learn.
There is an awareness and a need for more education in the real estate industry that is typically responsible for 80 percent of the radon tests performed in the U.S.
When employee complaints of high radon levels in basement office areas at Western Carolina University were reported to Jon Maddy, the University’s Director of Safety and Risk Management, action needed to be taken immediately. Although there had been no original testing of these areas, an employee expressed concern that workers were being exposed to a high level of radon. Consequently, Maddy brought an innovative idea to Dr. Tracy Zontek, an Environmental Health professor at the University. A research study was proposed in which students were given the opportunity to test University buildings. Also, the school invited Catherine Rosfjord from the North Carolina Radon Program to complete a workshop on testing large buildings. Staff from the Jackson County Health Department attended this event as well.