Radon remains a leading cause of cancer. As we to ramp up action to reduce radon’s health risk, two areas we can all get smarter on are the collection and use of data. EPA, states, and several national and regional consortia all collect radon data. These programs have differing data needs, reporting requirements, thresholds, calculation protocols, and approaches to validation and verification. Despite these differences, the data collections share common purposes – improved tracking and understanding of radon exposure. Data is information and information is the programmatic foundation for effective radon risk reduction. People leading these programs need access to data that is reliable, consistent, and comparable across programs. While there is a significant amount of radon data, it is decentralized. EPA wants to launch a partnership effort through RadonLeaders.org to better coordinate the collection of radon data, and aggregate as much available data as possible.
EPA has frequently heard about the desire for a new radon map from the radon community. Currently, developing a new radon map is not a feasible project for EPA to take on. EPA hopes that this data project will help us, and the entire radon community better understand how a new map would serve the radon community and the public, and to try to find alternative, more affordable ways to meet those same needs.
In addition, many in the radon community share the view that the existing EPA Radon Zone Map is used inappropriately. When the map was introduced in the early 1990’s it was intended to show potential levels thereby helping states plan their programs. It has been EPA’s position that every home should be test for radon levels. However, the public and policymakers look for “bright lines,” and the zone designations have taken on a life of their own. They are often the reference point for whether or not actions are taken, with the rationale that policy should be focused in “high risk” areas. True, but the reality is that since radon is such a serious health hazard, even Zone 3 is relatively high risk compared to many other environmental pollutants.
There is much to be gained from the coordination of radon data. To be effective, this partnership project must be driven by stakeholders from across the radon community. We all need to participate.
CLICK HERE to register for an initial meeting. You can also provide your immediate thoughts now. Get involved!
Please respond by Wednesday, December 15, 2010. The first step in this effort will be a conference call on Friday, December 17, 2010 to discuss this work.