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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.
With the help of WFMZ-TV 69 in Allentown, PA and various partners including the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), American Lung Association (ALA), the medical community, radon industry and the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, Bureau of Radiation Protection, Radon Division (PA DEP/BRP), held a very successful three-part TV series and phone bank took place surrounding the effects of radon. The featured series were titled “Radon Mitigation Explained,” “Radon’s Effect on the Body,” and “Radon: A Cancer Causing Gas”.
The Nevada Radon Education Program, under the direction of Susan H. Howe, produces a wide array of outreach items on a yearly basis to spread the radon message. Examples of some of these efforts include door tags, engaging radon Public Service Announcements (PSAs), news articles, educational programs, street banners and massive amounts of educational displays and posters.
This year in particular, a different sort of outreach effort took place at the Nevada Day event. Radon activist Denise Uber (pictured) dressed up as the “Radon Fairy” to educate people about the harmful effects of radon. Uber is a strong advocate for radon awareness. She previously had her home mitigated, appeared in local newspapers and is a continued supporter of the Nevada Radon Education Program.
In support of National Radon Action Month 2012, Beverly Jo Carswell of Alabama’s Office of Radiation Control, Radon Program teamed up with certified radon mitigator George Brickley to educate Northern Alabama code officials. Ms. Carswell discussed the health issues associated with radon gas. Mr. Brickley provided information on the radon mitigation process and what radon codes could be adopted to reduce the radon health risk to occupants. The presentation was followed by a well-received question and answer session. Code officials asked insightful questions covering topics ranging from the electrical requirements of mitigation to the costs of running a radon fan.
This year, Western Kentucky University (WKU) Department of Environment, Health and Safety reached new heights in raising awareness during National Radon Action Month – by garnering media attention to spread the word about the risk of radon. The department’s Radon Grant Coordinator Anita Britt partnered with the Barren River District Health Department, a local radon mitigation professional and the Bowling Green Daily News newspaper to run a personal story about radon, titled “Radon a Silent Danger.” The article – written by Pam Cassady and published on Jan. 17, 2011 – described a personal story of Lisa Murrell, a local nonsmoker who was diagnosed with lung cancer (pictured above).
To educate builders and raise public awareness about radon-resistant new construction (RRNC), the Utah Department of Environmental Quality, Division of Radiation Control (DRC) teamed up with the Habitat for Humanity of Utah County (Habitat) during National Radon Action Month (NRAM). DRC partnered with Habitat – a nonprofit, housing organization that provides affordable housing for people in need – to promote healthier homes.
“Consumers are becoming more aware that radon is a health risk, and building a new home with radon-resistant features can help to reduce elevated levels,” Radon Program Coordinator Christine Keyser said. “In addition, installing radon-resistant features at the time of construction is easier and cheaper than fixing a radon problem later. According to DRC’s radon measurement data, one in every three homes in Utah will have elevated levels of radon.“
Each year, the Nevada Radon Education Program tries new radon outreach ideas for National Radon Action Month. Its most successful idea this year was the creation and use of a 40-foot street banner in two different locations during January. The banner was hung over a major highway thoroughfare in Gardnerville (Douglas County) during the first two weeks of January and on the main street in Nevada’s capital – Carson City – during the last week of January.
The street banner, which cost the Program an initial expense of $750, will surely pay off as the Program hopes to use the banner for years to come. The 3-foot by 40-foot vinyl banner was created with specifications determined by the two cities' governing entities.
In recognition of National Radon Action Month, Becky Chenhall from the University of Georgia Cooperative Extension presented radon information to all of the science classes at Oconee Middle School in Oconee County, GA.
To spread the message about radon, WGAL TV – a local Lancaster and Harrisburg, Pennsylvania news channel – and the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (PA DEP), Bureau of Radiation Protection, Radon Division organized a phone bank of radon experts to answer viewer call-in questions during a live on-air broadcast.
The day prior to the phone bank, Susan Shapiro, a reporter for WGAL, did a broadcast news story related to radon. She interviewed a Lancaster family with high radon levels who subsequently mitigated the home, and she also interviewed a representative of the PA DEP Radon Division who provided general information of radon in general and some specifics of local occurrences. The purpose of these broadcasts was to showcase real life stories to impact the viewing audience enough for them to take action.
To prepare students to participate in the National Radon Poster Contest, Robert McLellan of the Todd County Health Department in Kentucky taught 7th grade science students about radon – infusing awareness with the science class’s curriculum.
One hundred and twenty-five students at Todd County Middle School learned about the periodic table of elements, radioactive decay and the make-up of atoms. To teach them about how radon and other elements’ atoms are formed, Robert used a hands-on activity to show students how to “build” their own atom nuclei. Reese’s Puffs cereal was used to represent neutrons and protons – the peanut butter Puffs being protons and the chocolate being neutrons. For students with peanut allergies, Apple Jacks cereal was used as a replacement. The students then learned how to find the number of neutrons by subtracting the atomic number from the rounded atomic mass.