Saturday, January 28, 2017


Radioactive radon gas exposure is the leading environmental cause of cancer mortality; yet very few people are protecting
themselves from this silent killer.  With an estimated 21,000 U.S. deaths each year from radon-induced lung cancer, a person must question:  “Why aren’t our citizens protecting themselves from this tragedy?”  The answer is simple; people don’t know about radon; they can’t see radon, taste it, or smell it.  Yet, it has been found in every state in our union in high levels.  So the next logical question is “What makes people test for radon.” The six influencers in radon testing are:  home inspections, word of mouth, legislation, media, medical advice and lung cancer diagnosis—not necessarily in that order.

          Amy Kleptach of TK Home Inspections says, “I always suggest a radon test, and I ask who will be doing your radon test for you.”  She takes the time to explain the importance of testing for this radioactive gas and explains the danger of exposure and the increased chance of lung cancer due to the DNA damage to the cells in and around the lungs.  Amy says, “This radioactive gas can linger in your home, and it’s like your house is smoking for you!”  “Facts tell, stories sell” according to Amy. 

“Word of mouth is the primary factor behind 20 percent to 50 percent of all purchasing decisions,” according to Jonah Berger, CONTAGIOUS: WHY THINGS CATCH ON.        Motivated radon activists don’t have to be paid to tell their stories.  Word of mouth is more effective than traditional advertising and is more effective, persuasive, and comes from experience.  When sharing stories, getting people excited and making them laugh or angry is better than making them sad.  Educating others to make them feel like knowledgeable insiders and giving them avenues to succeed will influence action.  Sharing love for others through caring is what is persuasive.

The confidence the patient has in the relationship with the physician is critical and vital as to the trust given in suggestion for good health and healing.  Primary care physicians have an opportunity to develop strong connections with their patients and can emphasize wellness and disease prevention communication.  Time spent in discussing the health risk of radioactive radon exposure may save lives and prevent a lung cancer diagnosis.  Enhancing the knowledge of the nurturing doctor with the facts about the danger of radon exposure is a priority and critical in helping to prevent lung cancer.  The history of a patient should include radon exposure as well as other questions concerning environmental carcinogens.  Physicians who are advocates for the patient’s health provide resources and education for the individual care of their patient by being proactive and spearheading prevention of disease.  When physicians practice healthful behaviors themselves, counseling their patients is more effective and the patients view the opinion of the physician as a trusted source of information.  Therefore, the knowledge that the physician can related to the patient about the danger of radioactive radon exposure, the ease of testing and mitigation if the level is high can be lifesaving.  An easy and time saving method for this responsibility is an informative radon brochure and a question on the patient history form:  “Have you tested your home for radon?”  Physicians that have tested their homes and offices and mitigated if the level was elevated are great influencers and demonstrate a great health-promoting behavior.

During National Radon Action Month—January—many articles on radon appear in newspapers, and news segments on TV are fairly common throughout our nation.  When the articles are close to home in local newspapers or in neighborhood publications, citizens are more likely to seek out testing devices from public health departments or other sources.  However, in-person presentations have more of an impact especially if test kits are readily available at the presentation.

Legislative action such as the IL and MN Radon Awareness Act has been effective with increased results in the number of home buyers testing and mitigation at the point of sale.  In Illinois testing at the point of sale has increased from 8% to 55% since the enactment of the IL Radon Awareness Act which came about as a result of the death of Joseph Linnertz who passed with lung cancer on February 8, 2006, while living in an environment with elevated levels of radon.  The number of MN families taking action to reduce levels of cancer-causing radon gas in their homes has more than double since MN duplicated the IL law in 2014.  The laws are a combination of notification and disclosure about the danger of radioactive radon gas in the home, and people are heeding the warning by testing when purchasing a home.

The last but certainly not an insignificant factor in the determination of individuals to test their home radon is when the diagnosis of lung cancer comes into their lives.  When one is told, “you have lung cancer,” numbness occurs and disbelief is present as the thought, “How this could be?” enters the mind.  After the initial shock of the diagnosis, the patient seeks treatment or advice on what path to follow.  Somehow the patient or surviving relative is informed about radon being a known cause of lung cancer.  Without hesitation, the diagnosis of lung cancer is the greatest instigator to radon testing and mitigation if the level is elevated even slightly.  Unfortunately for thousands of people, the information comes too late.

              Whatever the influencer is, our citizens need to be educated and informed so preventive measures and action for a healthy home, school, and workplace can be provided.  As the saying goes, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”  In this case a simple test and preventive action could save a life.

Gloria Linnertz
January 28, 2017
Citizens for Radioactive Radon Reduction


Indoor Air Quality & Ventilation said...
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Indoor Air Quality & Ventilation said...

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