Researchers and Policymakers Urge Action Against Radon

Regional and national authorities on radon spoke at New England Regional Radon Conference held in Portsmouth, NH June 2015.

​​The New England Regional Radon Conference was held on June 15th and 16th at the Sheraton Harborside in Portsmouth, NH. This conference, hosted by the New England Chapter of the American Association of Radon Scientists and Technologists (NEAARST), featured a variety of courses, speakers, and exhibitors, working to educate attendees on national and regional topics related to radon testing, treatment, science, and policy.

“At the end of the conference, the goal is for each attendee to come away with a firmer grasp of our national stance as a network of radon professionals, as well as greater confidence in their knowledge of testing and mitigating homes,” says NEAARST President Dave Hill of last month’s conference. Hill was the first speaker of the two days, followed by Shawn Price, American Association of Radon Scientists and Technologists (AARST) President, with a national update. AARST recently released a position statement, entitled “Public Health Risk and Public Policy Concerning Radon Gas,” which urges national policymakers to issue new legislation to help reduce the radon death toll, currently at 21,000 people each year in the U.S. alone.

The goal is for each attendee to come away with a firmer grasp of our national stance as a network of radon professionals, as well as greater confidence in their knowledge of testing and mitigating homes.

Dave Hill, NEAARST President

Following the welcome from Price, keynote speaker Dr. Bill Field, an internationally recognized authority on radon and professor at the College of Public Health at the University of Iowa, gave a powerful address on Radon Health Effects, sharing new national statistics with attendees. Dr. Field was a member of the World Health Organization (WHO) International Radon Project working group that developed the WHO Handbook on Indoor Radon. The remainder of the morning saw compelling updates from Philip Jalbert of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA), and from Jane Malone, AARST National Policy Director, who spoke on Radon Policy. The afternoon held a discussion of ALA Radon Legislation Support from Casey Harvell, the Massachusetts Director of Public Policy at ALA of the Northeast, and a course by Spruce Environmental Technologies Trainer, Matt Hendrick, entitled “Science of the Atom: Radiation, Radioactivity, and Radon.”

The second day of the conference kicked off with Shawn Price’s course on Quality Assurance and Quality Control in the radon industry, followed by research scientist Michael Kitto, of the NY State Health Department, who spoke on Radon in Water. Next, Scott Gilman and Rebecca Roe, students studying radon at Middlebury College, delivered a presentation on Vermont Radon Policy Research, which was an attendee favorite. The conference closed out with a course led by Matt Hendrick on Radon Fans: Fundamentals and Selection, an essential part of a successful mitigation job.

With such a variety of perspectives and information, it is clear that attendees came away with increased knowledge of the practical treatment of radon gas, as well as related national and regional policies. Looking at June’s AARST position statement, the sentiments expressed within echo many of the concerns addressed throughout the conference.  “Radon is one of the most extensively studied carcinogens, and the diversity and consistency of findings provide overwhelming evidence that protracted radon exposure is the leading environmental cause of cancer mortality in the United States,” is just one of many stand-out statements in the document. There is hope that with such a dedicated network of radon professionals and policy-makers, at next year’s NEAARST conference, speakers will be able to report on radon policy reform and a lower death toll in our nation.

The conference was supported in part by the following exhibitors: AccuStar, Better Water, Financial Finance Company LLC, RadonAway, and RCI. Also exhibiting were AARST, Cancer Survivors Against Radon (CanSAR), and Citizens for Radioactive Radon Reduction.