• Jani Palmer
    6
    Does anyone have a good study on the average radon reduction after mitigation or average post-mitigation or post-RRNC levels? I'd like to collect a few.
    Much appreciated!
  • Robert Mahoney
    42
    I will try and dig up our Health Canada survey of 100 homes, that 3 of our Canadian Mitigation contractors installed, we all target less than 2.7 or 100bq/m3-
  • Jani Palmer
    6
    Thanks so much, Bruce Decker sent the link. It's very helpful!
  • Larainne Koehler
    25
    Jani,
    NJ and other states which require the pre and post mitigation results would have this information. However there is potentially a difference between results achieved by certified mitigators and non-certified mitigators. NJ did a study which predates their mandatory program which showed differences between participants in their voluntary program, 'professional' mitigators and homeowners. My recollection is that participants in their program were significantly more effective than other categories.
    Larainne
  • Brian R Gaulke
    15
    The Health Canada report that Bruce linked to shows only about a 10% difference between certified and uncertified contractors. The difference between this and Larainne's recollection could reflect a difference between the Canadian mitigation industry and that of the US. What do the professionals out there think?
  • Shawn Price
    24
    There is definitely a big difference in the Canadian and US mitigation industries. The major US market driver has been the real estate transaction where the client (home seller) wants quick and cheap, therefore skipping diagnostics and system design Is common. Some US mitigators have stopped catering to those people so they can charge more in order to do the job correctly, mitigate the entire structure, alleviate headaches, and assure better and longer lasting radon systems.

    The Canadians that I have spoken to at the CARST conferences the last couple years are putting in fewer systems, but they are actually getting paid well to do the jobs correctly.

    So on one hand, the US is getting more overall risk reduction due to the size of the industry and number of homes we touch, but the Canadians may be getting better house-to-house results on average?

    My guess is that instead of seeing a huge quality gap between certified vs non-certified, or US vs Canada, the most obvious gap is likely non real estate vs real estate when clients aren’t willing to pay for time spent on diagnostics and just barely passing the post-mitigation test is acceptable.

    Shawn Price
  • Brian R Gaulke
    15
    Thanks Shawn. I was aware of the real estate driver in the US but hadn't thought of it in this context. In fact, when I worked for Health Canada, I was actually in favour of using real estate transactions to push radon testing and mitigation. I guess it's fortunate that we didn't go that way.

    Regards,
    Brian
  • Shawn Price
    24
    It depends on the overall goal of the company, the clients, and the industry.

    If we mitigate a million homes and only reduced the radon concentrations by 1 pCi/L each, that is still a significant number of families with lower exposures. On the other hand, if we don't have a process to follow up and ensure that the million systems continue to work long into the future, we failed the consumers and have done little for risk reduction.

    In my opinion the real estate transaction is an great opportunity to educate and to perform testing and mitigation. I urge Canada to embrace it, not abandon it. There are a lot of good things that have and are continuing to happen in the US so I encourage your folks to borrow the good parts, improve upon the bad, and try not to reinvent the wheel.

    Shawn
  • Kevin M Stewart
    79
    Good to read Brian and Shawn's discussion. I do agree that better average post-mitigation results should not be the only metric for success. The number and fraction of homes mitigated that are in need of it are important as well. Likewise, the effectiveness of any program in ensuring long-term reliability is also critical. To speak in "bottom line" terms, what approach maximizes the number of lives saved over the long term?

    While I agree that the real estate transaction provides a "great opportunity to educate and to perform testing and mitigation," I am happy with any social norm of attitudes and practices that accomplishes the same thing. IF people can widely accept and carry out testing, mitigation, and regular retesting and maintenance, outside of the real estate transaction process, what could be wrong with that? It's just that the occasion of taking occupancy in a new building is such a logical juncture for intervention, it seems to me it would be a shame not to take advantage of it.
  • Brian R Gaulke
    15
    I agree with both Shawn and Kevin on this issue. However, take a look at the reasons the 69% of survey participants with elevated radon (>200 Bq/m3) who didn't mitigate chose that route. I would have thought that people who had lived in their current home for some time would include that as a reason for not mitigating ("I haven't gotten sick yet" etc) but it isn't there, although it might be buried amongst the 35% of participants who were not certain that there was a serious enough health risk.
  • Shawn Price
    24
    You hit a very key point Brian. It is amazing how many conversations I have had with individuals about their high readings, sometimes alarmingly high, who decided that mitigation wasn’t in their plans. That disconnect is very concerning and some day I hope we find the solution to change that outcome.
  • Stephanie Long
    1
    Here is a link to a survey of some Irish homes remediated for radon

    http://www.epa.ie/pubs/conferencesandevents/nrf/nrftwelfth/Forum2015_AD.pdf

    In time, we would also like for homes sales to be a significant driver for testing and remediation here.
  • Kevin M Stewart
    79
    ↪Brian R Gaulke et al.

    Looking at the survey results for why people did not take steps to mitigate ...
    • Did not consider their radon levels were particularly high (35% of respondents)
    • Concern about the cost of mitigation (18% of respondents)
    • Did not yet find the time to mitigate (8%)
    • Lack of information or didn’t know what to do to reduce their radon levels (8%)
    ... I think that Brian is right in that those who would say, "'I haven't gotten sick yet' etc." are probably buried among that 35% group--and I suspect even among the latter groups.

    But I have these additional thoughts about that list of four reasons.
    - The great thing, the advantage of having this list, is not only that one knows better what the barriers are, but also, with a little thought, that they are all to some extent Addressable. I believe that improved public health education and creative thinking can help make progress on all of these barriers. That is the good news. In reverse order...
    • Lack of information / didn't know what to do: Establish/improve avenues for brief, clear communication on this matter (e.g., "three simple steps"), referring people to a trusted neutral financially-disinterested source, when initial radon results are above the action level.
    • Not yet find time: To the extent this is not just a "convenient reason to give," be sure to communicate somehow--at least in FAQ pages--what time commitment is necessary here. It strikes me that the biggest issue is the matter of what time investment is required to research what needs to be done, who is qualified to do it, how much it will cost, etc. To the extent that process can be facilitated collaboratively among all qualified radon testing and mitigation firms, and with government support, this could alleviate a lot of the misgivings people feel as they get into something that is a complete mystery to them.
    • Concern about cost: This requires a little more research: Is it that people know the costs and still have concerns? Or is it that they have little idea of the true costs, and armed with what "horror stories" they may have heard, are simply fearing the unknown? (To be sure, this is tied into the risk-cost-benefit analysis people do that I address in the next bullet.) The solution will depend on the source of this concern. While it may hoped that external sources of funding may yet be created to assist in mitigation subsidies for low-income households, the issue for many people could be addressed by a mixture of messaging around the idea of what cost range is expected, comparing this with routine expenses, etc., and perhaps offering ways to help people "divide and conquer" by paying in installments, some before the work and some after, if the full amount doesn't fit their budget.
    • Didn't consider levels particularly high: Again, this is a big category and could benefit from drilling down a little. For example, what levels would they consider high enough and why? People are notoriously irrational about assessing and comparing levels of risk, so we have to recognize that and work with that reality. Even for things like cigarette smoking, which kills far more people than radon, and failure to use seat belts, it has taken years to adjust social norms to recognize these as risky enough to change behaviors. As we all know, radon exposure gives no sensations, and produces no immediate symptoms, so it is easy for people to regard their levels as "not particularly high." (After all, if not with full awareness, they at least subconsciously feel that if radon were elevated, they Would somehow sense it or feel symptoms.) This state of affairs is a call for clear, consistent, repeated education, not only about radon, but also about what levels of exposure warrant mitigation--even though essentially NO level of radon is detectable by senses or by immediate symptoms. And even though cause-effect in any Particular case cannot be shown, the stories of people who got lung cancer even at those "not particularly high" levels of exposure need to be told as well.
  • Bob Wood
    86
    One thing about the Canadian industry is that we continue to loose good people (mitigators and testors) who are unable to continue in the business for lack of work. My service area spans 10 hours of drive time with approx 10 million homes and we are fortunate to do 150 miigations a year. Without my VOC work and some new construction projects we would not be able to stay in business. We just celebrated 10 years in business and I finally gave up my day job.
  • Brian R Gaulke
    15
    Would you say that requiring testing and mitigation during real estate transactions would likely bring a huge increase in your business?
  • Bob Wood
    86
    I think that requiring a real estate transaction radon test would save more lives. Possibly it would increase my business, it has been my belief that a radon requirement during a real estate test would drive many people into the industry and drive down prices and significantly affecting my profit margins negatively. It would likely take my sales up but overall profit would remain about the same. It would however smooth out my yearly sales a bit and soften some of the business cycles.
    CARST is in the final stages of a real-estate guidance that may be uptaken by Goverment that involves a short term sample during conditions period with moneys going into escrow if a sample result comes back above a much lowered guidance level. A long term test once new owners are in and mitigation will proceed with sellers money if radon test comes back above an agreed upon level(Heath Canadas guidance?) This system if adopted will preserve Health Canada's long term test focus, preserve real estate commissions for realtors (so they can get on board) , most of all it will protect many more home buyers and cost the government nothing, a byproduct is that it may raise radon awareness significantly.
  • Bob Wood
    86
    Shawn i think that the lack of people moving forward into mitigation is the industries fault .... no i really mean this. We have allowed Government driven testing programs to drive Risk communication wording and it is their bias to choose wording that is normative to be non- threatening.
    Risk communication really really depends on the words we use to communicate it is not good enough to communicate using the stuff we understand we need to give the recipient of those words an understanding of what we are trying to say.
    if we use new words like "radon in your home is naturally occurring". They don't know what radon means we do, But the general public will skip over and ignore terminology that they do not understand (we have been trained to do this since we were taught to read) and have a bias in their listening skills that their castle ( their castle is great; after all they pay for it every month). If we were to change that statement to "the radiation caused by radon in your home comes from the ground around and under it." You get rid of a word "natural" the normative belief is that everything that is natural is good for you is the bias thinking. insert the word "radiation" radiation is normative belief is radiation is bad for you. just changing around some the terminology significantly changes peoples reaction and understanding to what we are saying.
  • Shawn Price
    24
    That is a key observation Bob! I also believe that many of the historic messages seem to apologize for radon rather than being more direct. At least here in the US, there was no industry when EPA created their program. It took many years for our industry here to mature into a leadership role, but now that we are in a stronger position, things are beginning to change.
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