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National Radon Action Month

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Contents

Check out previous National Radon Action Month Newsletters, as well as National Radon Action Month success stories from previous years.

Newsletters

Use our archive of NRAM Newsletters to find news, resources, reminders, and tips for planning National Radon Action Month activities and events. Subscribe below to have the current newsletters sent directly to you as you plan, coordinate, and implement your activities for National Radon Action Month.

Send an e-mail to radonevents@cadmusgroup.com with “Subscribe” as the subject to take advantage of everything the Newsletters can offer.

Read Past Success Stories

Look for the full success stories in the Event Planning Kit (PDF) [EPA 402-K-10-00, March 2012] (34 pp., 874 K) to find out how radon leaders like you reached out to non-traditional stakeholders (p. 25), partnered with sister organizations to maximize their impact (p. 30), leveraged technology to reach new audiences (p. 15), and more (pp. 4, 7, 9).

Learn about successful National Radon Action Month activities and events to increase radon awareness, promote radon testing and mitigation, and advance the use of radon-resistant new construction practices. Many states and radon partner organizations conducted effective outreach resulting in a significant increase in the previous year’s requests for radon test kits and more information. Activities and events can be tailored to fit any state or other type of organization and need, and can ultimately lead to lives saved from radon-induced lung cancer.

Illinois’s Successful Partnering Approaches to Promote Radon Awareness

The Illinois Emergency Management Association (IEMA) forged partnerships with key stakeholder groups to coordinate and synergize their efforts during January. The response to their combined efforts was overwhelming: more than 16,000 requests for test kits during January.

To promote the 2008 National Radon Action Month, Cindy Ladage and her team at the Illinois Emergency Management Association (IEMA) partnered with the American Lung Association of Illinois (ALA) and the American Respiratory Health Association (ARHA). The team coordinated successful activities to raise radon awareness and promote free radon test kits.

The Illinois Radon Awareness Act went into effect January 1, 2008; just in time to pique media and consumer interest in radon risk awareness during National Radon Action Month. The governor announced the new law as he issued the proclamation, drawing more attention to January efforts. IEMA hosted four continuing education courses for real estate agents, utilizing its partnership with the Association of Realtors to create a curriculum, approved it for continuing education credits, and promote the courses to realtors. The Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) approached IEMA to create a course focusing on radon and radon-resistant building. Cindy and her team presented this course to employees of the construction and demolition industry, home inspectors, developers, realtors, code officials, and property managers.

Cindy and ALA also presented radon risk information and gave away test kits to EPA Region 5 and ALA employees. She and her partners conducted a media campaign on the distribution of free radon test kits during January and sent a press release that was picked up by local newspapers, magazines, and other publications. ARHA worked with news media contacts to publish coupons for free test kits from IEMA, receiving attention in markets of over nine million such as Chicago.

The results were astounding. In January, the IEMA distributed over 8,000 test kits. So many test kits were requested, IEMA was backlogged until February when they distributed another 8,000 test kits and in March, over 7,000. IEMA distributed more than 33,000 radon test kits to date in 2008.

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Missouri Makes Radon Tests Easily Accessible

The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services (MDHSS) brought their system for consumer test kit requests into the 21st century by creating and launching an online request form. This increased accessibility and convenience for consumers has resulted in a 300% increase in test kit requests compared to the previous year.

The Missouri Department of Health & Senior Services really took Missouri residents into account when it created a new online registration tool on its website for residents to order a free radon test kit. In the fall of 2007, Carol Bell and her colleagues proposed this online registration system to ultimately save time and money that would otherwise be used to manually register citizens wishing to receive a radon test kit.

On January 1, 2008, just in time to promote the new service available to Missouri residents during National Radon Action Month, the online registration tool was made available. Registration numbers were low for the first few days, but increased throughout the month as more citizens became aware they could request a radon test kit in such a convenient manner.

Missouri received an overwhelmingly positive response to this new on-line registration system. During the first six months of 2008, Missouri had a 300% increase in requests for radon test kits compared to the same period last year, and the state processed over 6,000 online requests.

With the state and other support, Carol and her team provided enough radon test kits and educational materials to meet the overwhelming demand at no cost to Missouri residents. By creating an online registration system for radon test kits, Carol successfully utilized a new tool to reach out to the community and make an impact lasting well beyond National Radon Action Month.

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Reaching Out to Physicians and Pediatricians in New York

The New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH) created new, targeted informational materials for a program geared specifically toward physicians. As credible sources of health risk information, physicians were able to reach segments of the population face to face that the NYSDOH had difficulty reaching out to, particularly in person.

Nikolas Webster, of New York State’s (NYS) Bureau of Environmental Radiation Protection at the New York State Department of Health (DOH), initiated an innovative program for National Radon Action Month. He began a program for doctors dedicated to raising radon awareness among family physicians and pediatricians. He wanted to reach areas that he and his staff are unable to personally visit. He believes that if the importance of radon safety is communicated in a face-to-face manner by a scientific source within the community, the message will be more likely to get across to community members.

In June of 2007, Nikolas began collecting contact information for physicians in high risk counties by utilizing a database within the NYS DOH website. He developed a NYS DOH tri-fold brochure highlighting the risks of radon exposure. He then wrote a cover letter to physicians, asking if they would be interested in his National Radon Action Month program which is trying to increase public awareness. In early December 2007, he and several voluntary staff members in his office began to mail out over 3,000 thousand packets containing the physicians guide, the NYS DOH tri-fold, an application for a test kit, and the letter.

About a week and a half after the letter went out, he started getting responses, and was invited to give a talk about radon at St. Clare’s Medical hospital in Schenectady County in April, 2008. During the talk he asked physicians if they ever talked about radon with their patients, and he provided examples to emphasize that patients would be more likely to take the risks of radon exposure seriously if the information was delivered directly by their doctor, rather than via a pamphlet. His talk drew the Director of Family Medicine at the hospital, who was interested in continuing to reach out to and inform new residents. The Director and Nikolas are currently trying to schedule a yearly presentation for all new residents of the hospital.

Nikolas’ talk was also effective in another way; people in the community were responsive. His office received many calls asking questions about radon and test kits. When asked where they received their information, callers let him know they had received it from their doctor. He cited one woman in particular as an example, who requested a kit and found radon levels of over 100 pCi/L in her home, far above the EPA action level of 4 pCi/L. She subsequently ordered two more test kits to confirm her results, and then had her home mitigated. Taking it one step further, she contacted her children’s school to see if they would test for radon — demonstrating how one person can affect a whole community.

Since January 2008, he has kept in contact with the doctors, asking them to update their contact information and checking to see if they would like more application packets. Instrumental to the success of this project was the tracking and evaluation of how many packets were sent out, and the results that came back. The radon test kit applications sent back into the office had been assigned a special code so they were able to be tracked.

For January 2009, Nikolas plans to continue with the projects from National Radon Action Month 2008, and to look for more avenues to reach even more physicians and pediatricians in a face-to-face capacity by attending local county chapter meetings of physicians’ professional organizations. He would also like to try to involve counties who receive money through State Indoor Radon Grants to expand his efforts, and to engage local county officials to generate proclamations to stress the importance of radon risk and testing.

Nikolas offers two key suggestions for anyone interested in implementing similar projects: Allow a sufficient amount of time if you plan to make your own information packets; and, Get out into the field and interface directly with people because personal interaction is a more effective way of delivering your message.

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Reaching Out To Non-traditional Tennessee Stakeholders

The Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC) reached out to non-traditional stakeholders who had a vested interest in the community and a broad reach within it—electric utility cooperatives and a local magazine—to promote radon risk reduction messages. TDEC increased the number of test kit requests to over six times greater than the previous year, and from 90 of 95 Tennessee counties.

Amy Inabinet of the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC) wanted to try something different in 2008 to promote National Radon Action Month. Knowing that many homes throughout Tennessee still needed to be tested for radon, and that most people receive an electric bill every month, Amy reached out to 20 electric utility cooperatives in smaller counties, hoping they might incorporate radon messages into their customer communications. She sent them a variety of basic radon information and images allowing the cooperatives to choose formats best suited for delivery along with their particular customer bills or newsletters.

Tennessee Magazine, with a subscriber base of 770,000, highlighted Amy’s efforts with the cooperatives in their January 2008 issue, which led to an overwhelming response of nearly 4,000 requests for free radon test kits — nearly six times the number of requests received for the entire year of 2007! Requests were received from 90 of 95 Tennessee counties, demonstrating the reach of the article and Amy’s other outreach efforts.

To continue building awareness about radon and radon testing throughout the year, Amy helped coordinate a highly publicized Governor’s Proclamation for National Radon Action month. She and her colleagues also created a tri-fold brochure offering information on the dangers of radon and free test kits to be distributed at conferences around the state, as well as to non-traditional radon stakeholders, including rural health associations and the Tennessee Bee Keepers.

TDEC is also working to expand a program they implemented with the Department of Health during the 2008 National Radon Action Month. The Department of Health periodically offers “exchange stations” where mercury thermometers can be exchanged for digital thermometers. During National Radon Action Month, TDEC partnered with the Department of Health to offer radon test kits at these exchange stations. TDEC and the Department of Health are now working to establish a pilot project to have kits offered at the exchange on a regular basis.

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Utah Pilots New Methods to Reach Employees

The Utah Division of Radiation Control took advantage of a great variety of media messaging sources: posting informational posters in state buildings, printing messages on pay stubs for the month of January, creating a press release, and speaking to as many local news agencies about radon risk and how to test for radon as possible. Utah sold almost 2,000 test kits and had thousands of unique visitors to their website.

For John Hultquist and David Neville of the Utah Division of Radiation Control, the key to a successful 2008 National Radon Action Month involved brainstorming in unique ways to inform employees about radon testing. John and David realized in January that the text block on their pay stubs could be used for messages, so they sent a message about radon testing (including details about kit purchasing) to the payroll department and asked to have it placed into the state employees’ pay stubs.

Because of the positive response from state employees, John and David also decided that January would be the right time to devise a way for all people to be informed about radon test kits. John and David contacted the Public Information Officer to set up a link on the State’s Department of Health Web page where employees and the general public could go to request a radon test kit. The Web page resulted in 131 requests for test kits. The Department of Facilities Construction and Management also helped spread the word by distributing radon posters to building facility coordinators to place on bulletin boards.

The Utah Division of Radon Control also worked with local television stations to run stories throughout January on the risks of radon and issued a press release in an effort to launch a successful media outreach campaign. The Division also collaborated with the Utah Safety Council. The media outreach and collaboration with the Utah Safety Council resulted in 2,851 unique visitors to the Utah Division’s website, and a sale of 1,700 radon test kits to Utah citizens in January of 2008.

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Wyoming’s Media and Mini-Grants Raise Radon Awareness

The Wyoming Department of Health planned a focused media outreach campaign. It began by reaching out to local radio stations, asking for live radio interviews to talk about the importance of radon risk reduction. They were aired multiple times, and eventually picked up by the local CBS television station. Their strategic efforts resulted in more than 4,000 test kit requests in January.

To have a far reaching impact during 2008’s National Radon Action Month, Steve Melia, from the Wyoming Department of Health, focused his activities around a media outreach campaign, along with the distribution of free, short-term radon test kits. Steve began by calling radio stations and requesting short interviews to explain the dangers of radon. While on the radio shows, he was able to inform the public that the state was offering free test kits throughout January in honor of National Radon Action Month. The local CBS television station and several radio stations aired the interviews multiple times and broadcasted stories about radon during the month of January.

Using the Internet as another outreach medium, Steve placed a radon link on the Wyoming Department of Health’s Home Page to provide easy access to the Radon Web page containing a downloadable coupon for a free radon test kit. Members of the public could print out and mail in the coupon to receive their kit. As well as working with television, radio, and Internet, Steve also coordinated with the Governor’s office to release a Governor’s Proclamation for National Radon Action Month, as well as the Department’s Public Information Office to issue several press releases.

The roughly 100 to 150 postal requests per day (totaling more than 4,000 requests) for a radon test kit reveal the community’s overwhelmingly positive response to the campaign.

Taking his outreach campaign one step further, Steve made several mini-grants available to Wyoming science teachers to conduct radon projects with their science classes. He hopes to attract further media coverage to help spread his message about radon and the importance of radon testing.

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Wisconsin Coordinates Media Outreach with Local Partners

Wisconsin Coordinates Media Outreach with Local Partners. Wisconsin energized local partners to reach out to media outlets resulting in a statewide push for radon awareness and testing during the 2007 National Radon Action Month.

When it comes to outreach for National Radon Action Month, Conrad Weiffenbach of the Wisconsin Radon Protection Program keeps it simple and local. Weiffenbach sees to it that state money designated for radon outreach makes it to the best local implementers. And to local experts across the state, his direction is straight forward — tell the media about radon, provide specific local facts, and be responsive to the public’s need for radon information and assistance.

In order to coordinate a state-wide media push in January 2007, Wieffenbach organized two December regional meetings with more than 40 local health agencies and designated Radon Information Centers. At the meetings, Weiffenbach presented basic radon messages and then allowed the group to share ideas and stories in a roundtable format.

In addition to state- and EPA-issued press releases, Weiffenbach’s office worked with EPA Region 5’s Helen Tsiapas, who called on the Governor to issue a proclamation declaring January as Radon Action Month in Wisconsin. With the state’s support, the local agencies successfully pitched the radon message to local media outlets. And a solid return of newspaper stories, network TV interviews, and radio mentions resulted in increased public inquiries and demand for radon test kits. “Local is best,” Weiffenbach said. “Doing media outreach can be intimidating for some groups … but the media can get lots of information across and they always like the local angle.”

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Media Buzz in Alabama Results in Increased Testing

Pat Smith

Pat Smith (left) of the Alabama Radon Program with Suzie Wiley (center) and Derrick Shull (right), the hosts of WYAM TV 56 "Talk of the Town on The Light Side of the News".

Media Buzz in Alabama Results in Increased Testing. During January 2007, radon messages filled Alabama�s radios, newspapers, and televisions, resulting in more than 379 radon tests completed. Read more about Alabama�s media outreach.

During January 2007, radon messages filled Alabama’s radios, newspapers, and televisions. Notably, radon interviews ran on Northwest Shoals Community College TV station’s “For Your Information” and WYAM TV’s “Talk of The Town on The Light Side of The News”. Alabama residents responded to the message. Of the 482 test kits purchased or distributed as a result of National Radon Action Month outreach, 379 radon tests were completed (22% had elevated radon levels).

Patricia Smith, the Regional Extension Agent for Alabama’s Radon Education Program, coordinated the state’s successful media effort. She worked closely with county representatives, connected with key media contacts, and disseminated press releases and news articles. Though her work peaked in November and December, Smith fosters her media contacts throughout the year by making regular office visits and phone calls. “Even after you already have a connection,” she explained, “it is important to check in frequently to maintain the relationship and make new contacts when there are staff changes.”

Smith initiated these relationships when she began her job in 2005. She visited every County Extension Office to meet with radon staff and local media. “It is important to have someone on the ground so that the media can put a familiar face with Alabama’s Radon Education Program,” she said.

These strong connections paid off during the 2007 National Radon Action Month. Several media outlets, like the Shoals Community College TV station, contacted Smith for the story, because they were already familiar with her and the state’s radon efforts.

Media outreach was just one key element of Alabama’s successful effort to increase awareness of radon during National Radon Action Month. Local proclamations, EPA’s radon PSAs, city council proclamations, poster displays, and other activities reinforced the media messages and helped increase radon testing.

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Kansas Leverages Governor’s Proclamation

Kansas Leverages Governor's Proclamation. The Kansas Department of Health and Environment's early planning to secure a proclamation for National Radon Action Month enabled them to launch a comprehensive, high-profile radon outreach campaign in January 2007, resulting in doubled test kit sales.

Kansas Radon Proclamation Signing Ceremony

Kansas Radon Proclamation Signing Ceremony (pictured from left to right): Brian Hanson, Kansas State University; Robert Dye, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency; Clark Duffy, KDHE Bureau of Air and Radiation; Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius; Mike Heideman, KDHE Public Information; Kim Steves, KDHE Bureau of Air and Radiation; Cindy Evans, Shawnee County Extension; and Tom Conley, KDHE Bureau of Air and Radiation.

When Governor Kathleen Sebelius declared January as Radon Action Month in Kansas, her message became the centerpiece of a comprehensive radon outreach campaign sponsored by the Kansas Department of Health and Environment (DHE). The public response to the promotion was dramatic. Test kit sales doubled during that time.

Advanced planning was the key to the state’s successful program, said Kim Steves of the Kansas DHE. She began collaborating with her state’s Public Information Office in November 2006 to secure the participation of the governor. On January 22, 2007, Governor Sebelius signed the proclamation during a special ceremony attended by the media and local partners from Kansas State University, Kansas County Extension services, and several health and environmental organizations.

“A proclamation,” said Steves, “is just one component of a successful campaign for National Radon Action Month.” DHE and local partners used a media campaign to reinforce the governor’s message. They issued press releases and purchased air time to run EPA’s television, radio, and print PSAs, customized with their state’s contact information. Media coverage included a local interview with Steves on KSNT Channel 27 during the noon news hour as well as several radio interviews. Steves said that, “The proclamation can be a foundation for local media coverage and adds credibility to your radon message.”

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