Last year, when real estate agent Eric Bumm read about the death of Lois Turner Dees, he was moved.
Dees, the widow of Comair Flight 5191 victim Larry Turner, became a vocal advocate for testing homes and other buildings for radon after she was diagnosed with lung cancer.
Bumm lived not far from Dees. About the same time, some other neighbors who were selling their house were asked to test for radon, only to find out they that would need to mitigate the odorless, colorless gas before the sale could go through.
Although radon mitigation can be costly, Bumm said, "my issue was my friends had been living in a house with elevated radon levels for seven years."
In the past few months, Bumm said, he's had more clients ask to test homes for radon before a sale — but that isn't enough.
"People should be educated about this, and not just when they are selling a house," he said. "There are a lot of misconceptions about radon."
Some people think it's "bogus," he said.
In fact, radon is a naturally occurring radioactive gas, and it's common in Kentucky. It is thought to be a leading cause of lung cancer (after smoking) and is linked to other forms of cancer as well.
Dr. Susan Arnold, who treated Dees at the Lucille Parker Markey Cancer Center, said because Dees had never smoked, radon exposure was a likely cause of her cancer. A subsequent test of her home revealed that the level was nearly eight times the acceptable safe levels.
After reading about Dees, Bumm made some calls, found some experts and is putting on a free radon education seminar. It will be March 25 at the Beaumont Club House.
"It's a call to action, to get people to test for radon," he said.
Clay Hardwick, Kentucky's state radon coordinator; Ellen Hahn, a University of Kentucky public health professor and director of the Clean Indoor Air Partnership and Kentucky Center for Smoke-Free Policy; and Kenny McLaughlin, a radon mitigation professional, will be on hand to talk about the dangers of radon and answer questions.