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Geological data and outreach methods for designing targeted home radon testing programs

Wu, Connor Y. H., Bennett, Michael, Fox, Katherine, Hubbard, Aaron, Parkhurst, Laura, Sherrod, Rebecca, Holguin, Sarah, Gohlke, Julia M., Marmagas, Susan W.
Environmental earth sciences 2019 v.78 no.4 pp. 120
United States Geological Survey, analytical kits, dolomite, education, neoplasms, outreach, radon, risk reduction, Virginia, West Virginia
Indoor radon exposure is the second leading cause of lung cancer in the United States, yet radon risk reduction programs often struggle to increase home radon testing rates. This study compared two outreach methods to improve home radon testing and examined the association between home radon levels and geologic data in Central Appalachian communities in Tazewell County, Virginia, and Mercer County, West Virginia. We recruited 327 residents via phone and 211 residents via in-person workshops in 2016 and 2017. In total, 538 radon test kits were distributed to residents for deployment in their homes and subsequent shipment to a certified laboratory for analysis. We received 225 valid test results, which were subsequently linked to geologic units derived from the United States Geological Survey based on geocoded addresses. Results indicate that participants recruited by phone were more likely to complete the home radon test than those recruited in-person from workshops. Of seven geologic formation categories in the study area, dolomite formations from the Cambrian–Ordovician period were associated with the highest median radon value, 4.25 pCi/L (0.38–124.45 pCi/L). Our results suggest that effectiveness of radon risk reduction programs may be improved by phone education and test kit distribution campaigns, targeting homes on geological formations previously associated with heightened radon levels.