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Lesson 11 How can you talk to clients about radon risk?

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1 Lesson 11 How can you talk to clients about radon risk?

2 Slide 11-1 Radon: unlike other environmental risks Natural, not made by human activity –No villain to blame Not readily controlled by regulation –Solution depends on individual action –Decisions should be based on good information Mitigate? Test? Ignore? Procrastinate?

3 Slide 11-2 Barriers to communication Misconceptions about radon Apathy (lack of interest) Fear To deal with clients’ misconceptions, I provide accurate information about radon. To deal with apathy, I explain the risk of radon to a family’s health. To deal with fear, I address concerns about testing and mitigation. Inspector Hank James

4 Slide 11-3 Common misconceptions Radon risk is small Radon is not a problem in my area Radon risk can be determined by geography or home construction, not testing Radon testing is difficult and expensive Radon mitigation is difficult and expensive Radon gas is lighter than air and will rise to top of home –Greatest concentration in upper floors High radon levels require removing “contaminated” furnishings Other?

5 Slide 11-4 Why are people apathetic? No sensory clues show that radon is present –Radon has no taste, smell, or color Delay of many years before cancer develops –No immediate victims seen –Delay persuades people that radon is not a health problem Attitudes toward health risks –Skepticism: risk is not real –Fatalism: risk cannot be avoided Radon?

6 Slide 11-5 Why are people apathetic? Competition with other concerns in the “worry budget” Today’s worry schedule 9-10 AMWar 10-11Global warming 11-12 noonGas prices 12-1 PMBird flu pandemic 1-2Mad cow disease 2-3Obesity 3-4Terrorism 4:01-4:02Radon 4:02-5:00Political corruption

7 Slide 11-6 Radon in a worry budget Where is radon in your worry budget? Has its position changed since you began today’s training? What could you say to a client who says, “I’ve got more important things than radon to worry about”? If testing shows that your radon level is under 4 pCi/L, you might be able to cross radon off your worry budget without taking further action at this time. If testing shows that your radon level is 4 pCi/L or more, you might be able to cross radon off your worry budget by mitigating.

8 Slide 11-7 Radon communication challenges Alert the apathetic –“If people don’t get their houses checked, they should get their heads checked”— Robert Nulman Reassure the alarmed –Panic is not necessary, even with high radon levels Mitigation usually does not require extreme measures

9 Slide 11-8 EPA mitigation guidelines If radon level is equal to or greater than Mitigate within 4 pCi/LA few years 20 pCi/LA few months 200 pCi/LA few weeks

10 Slide 11-9 Fears about radon Distrust of contractors –Performing unnecessary repairs –Overcharging –Performing ineffective mitigation Loss of home value –Difficulty selling home –Lower sale price –Longer time to closing I know that there are reputable mitigation contractors. In my experience, homes generally do not lose value as a result of radon testing. And they’re usually not more difficult to sell. In fact, some people are interested in buying a home that already has an effective mitigation system in place.

11 Slide 11-10 Acting on radon risk People are more likely to act when they believe –The risk is a serious threat and –Reasonable ways to reduce the risk are within their reach There’s no doubt that radon causes lung and stomach cancer. But you can install a mitigation system, at a reasonable cost, that will reduce your risk.

12 Slide 11-11 Factors that help people act on radon risk Concern for family health, especially children’s health –Special concern with avoiding radiation –Cause of lung cancer, a dreaded disease Radon carries no benefits at all, so it is easy to give up Home inspector is trusted, credible source of information –Personal influence can encourage clients to mitigate if necessary People often most open to radon information when buying a home –Buyers and sellers focused on condition of home Testing and mitigation relatively easy and inexpensive

13 Slide 11-12 Goals of communication about radon Inform client about radon risk If necessary, persuade client to test for radon Inform client of results Explain what results mean Inform client of mitigation options If necessary, persuade client to mitigate

14 Slide 11-13 Communication tips Ask questions to find out what people know, think, or want to do –Don’t assume you know before you have asked Explain seriousness of health risk –Experts agree on risk and solutions –Put risk in perspective Address concerns besides health –Costs –Property values Use plain language –Don’t use highly technical terms for most clients –Give as much information as the client wants and needs Personalize the information –Describe personal stories about people who have mitigated successfully

15 Slide 11-14 Personal story In 1986, in Clinton, NJ, scientists found a cluster of homes with extremely high levels of radon. Clinton’s mayor, Robert Nulman, has openly described his personal experience with radon. When he bought his own home, the radon level was 130 pCi/L of air. For $900, the seller had a contractor install a mitigation system in the basement. The radon level dropped to below 2 pCi/L. Radon did not reduce the value of his house or otherwise affect the sale of the house.

16 Slide 11-15 Points to emphasize about testing Testing costs are small Testing does not usually affect –Number of offers and counteroffers in home sale –Time to close home sale –Final negotiated price Test results may provide reassurance that radon is not a problem –Take radon off the worry schedule

17 Slide 11-16 Points to emphasize about mitigation Radon is a fixable problem Mitigation, if needed, preserves home value Mitigation costs are moderate in comparison with –Other home repairs (such as roofing, plumbing, or electrical repairs) –Renovations (such as painting, carpeting, appliance upgrades, or additions) Mitigation costs average $900-$2500

18 Slide 11-17 Points to emphasize about mitigation If mitigation is necessary LowRadonLowRadon Difficulty Cost Protecting the family’s health Priceless Low Moderate in comparison with many other common home projects

19 Slide 11-18 EPA document For general testing

20 Slide 11-19 EPA document For real estate transactions

21 Slide 11-20 EPA document For mitigation

22 Slide 11-21 Check languages Check EPA website for publications in Spanish

23 Slide 11-22 Summary Barriers to communication –Misconceptions –Apathy –Fear To overcome barriers –Provide accurate information –Alert the apathetic –Reassure the alarmed People are most likely to act when they believe that The risk is serious Reasonable ways to reduce risk are within their reach

24 Slide 11-23 Summary Factors that encourage action –Concern for health –No benefits to radon –Inspector is credible source of information –Open to information when buying a home –Action is relatively easy and inexpensive

25 Slide 11-24 Summary Communication tips –Ask questions to learn what people know, think, or want to do –Explain seriousness of risk –Address concerns about cost and property values –Use plain language –Personalize the information

26 Slide 11-25 Summary Points to emphasize Testing –Testing costs are small –Testing does not usually affect home sale –Test results may reassure that radon is not a problem Mitigation –Mitigation preserves a home’s value –Mitigation costs are moderate –Mitigation protects a family’s health

27 Slide 11-26 Summary EPA documents For general testing Citizen's Guide to Radon: The Guide to Protecting Yourself and Your Family from Radon For real estate testing Home Buyer's and Seller's Guide to Radon For any client with reading 4 pCi/L or more Consumer’s Guide to Radon Reduction: How To Fix Your Home

28 Slide 11-27 Questions?

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