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ROI: Region One Insights April 12th, 2024
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Take Action in January

Posted by on January 5th, 2024 Posted in: Uncategorized


Photo of home with text, test your home, protect your health. January is National Radon Action Month

As each new year begins, many people focus on their health and wellbeing. As January is National Radon Action Month, it is a perfect time to talk with library patrons about the health risks of exposure to radon gas and encourage home radon testing. Radon is a naturally occurring radioactive gas that comes up through soil and rock and enters the air. While radon is in the outdoor air, it can become trapped in homes, presenting serious health risks. Radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer in the USA, and the leading cause of lung cancer among never smokers. Combined with tobacco smoke, exposure to radon greatly increases lung cancer risk.

Radon is often overlooked as a health threat because it is colorless, tasteless, odorless, and causes no immediate symptoms. Luckily, there are simple methods to test for radon. The Radon on the RADAR project designed a radon detector library loan program at no cost to patrons in four rural Kentucky counties. Libraries are great partners to promote radon testing because they are existing, trusted voices that have the experience and infrastructure needed to circulate equipment with minimal barriers to access. The program is working. In the first two years of the program, radon testing increased 150% in the four rural counties. In addition, libraries are seeing first-time patrons apply for library cards, and patrons are telling us, “I would have never thought to test my home if this service had not been provided.”

NNLM provided a training webinar on radon:

Libraries as Hubs for Citizen Science: Partnering with Academia to Improve the Health of Communities

This webinar presents an example of how academic partners can effectively work with libraries to engage the community in radon awareness and testing through a variety of approaches, including utilizing citizen scientists to collect data and implementing a radon detector lending program.

Additionally, libraries may be interested in using a radon comic book to engage readers in learning about radon. Invisible Enemy: The Rise of Radon is based on an NIEHS funded study and introduces readers to the combined health risks of radon and tobacco smoke through the experiences of a small family with an asthmatic daughter.

Lastly, anyone with lungs can get lung cancer, and any home can have radon. Make radon testing your new year’s resolution! To learn more about the RADAR project, visit this page on the website for the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences.

This post was written by King Simpson, MSLS, Director, Logan County Public Library, Russellville, KY and Stacy R. Stanifer, PhD, APRN, AOCNS Assistant Professor of Nursing, University of Kentucky College of Nursing. 

Image of the author ABOUT fsteele
Faith Steele, MLS, is the Outreach and Education Librarian for Region 1 for the Network of the National Library of Medicine at the University of Maryland Baltimore. She connects libraries to community health partners, provides training and funding to help communities access quality health information.

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