Radon testing as a campus community service

July 11, 2006 -- Radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer---attributable to an estimated 20,000 deaths in the United States per year from exposure to the gas, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. When homeowners need to test their property for the invisible substance, they often think of picking up the local phonebook, flipping to a category like "radon detection," and calling a contractor directly. At last month's Health Physics Society meeting in Providence, Rhode Island, however, a scientist described an alternative program that provided convenient, impartial, and cost-effective assistance from an unlikely source: the local university.

Calling the nearest institute of higher learning for help on radon issues might seem as effective as contacting the local lumber yard for advice on a plumbing problem. But beyond its prestigious libraries with stacks upon stacks of seemingly arcane books are the people who work amidst them, employees like health physicist Tom Mohaupt of Wright State University, in Dayton, Ohio.

What could a local university campus and its people like Tom Mohaupt do to help homeowners deal with a radon issue? A lot, it turns out, thanks to the wealth of knowledge that Mohaupt and his co-workers have acquired about radon.

As part of his job as Wright State Radiation Safety Officer, Tom Mohaupt performs radon tests on the premises of Wright State University. But Mohaupt decided to share his expertise beyond the campus walls. He knew radon was a subject of legitimate concern in the community.

"Here in the Miami Valley of Ohio, a residence having elevated radon levels is hit or miss. Some people wanted to test for radon because their neighbors had elevated radon levels," he says.

Meanwhile, Mohaupt was regularly reading long government reports from the likes of the EPA and the National Academy of Sciences. Mohaupt realized that he could translate the important points in these repo

Contact: Kelly Classic
Health Physics Society

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