Year of Publication

2019

College

Public Health

Degree Name

Master of Public Health (M.P.H.)

Committee Chair

Dr. Mary Kay Rayens

Committee Member

Dr. Jay Christian

Committee Member

Dr. Ellen J. Hahn

Abstract

Background:

Radon is a colorless, odorless, and tasteless radioactive gas. Indoor radon exposure is responsible for at least 21,000 lung cancer deaths per year in the U.S. Radon concentrations vary greatly, with atmospheric conditions as one of the major factors contributing to this variation. There is also a link between season of the year and indoor radon values, with higher readings in winter compared with summer months. Seasonality studies are necessary in order to determine the best time for radon exposure screening. The purpose was to determine if atmospheric conditions (i.e., temperature, precipitation and wind) were predictive of observed home radon values, in addition to seasonality (i.e., 3-month intervals starting in January).

Methods:

We used data from 116 Kentucky counties over a 26-year period (1990-2015). A mixed model assessed the factors significantly associated with quarterly averaged log-transformed radon values. We did not retain temperature in the model given its strong association with seasonality, and wind measurements were only available for counties with airports.

Results:

In the full model with 116 counties, seasonality was a significant predictor of radon values; precipitation was not significant. In the 8-county wind model, season and wind were significant predictors; precipitation remained nonsignificant. Both models indicated higher radon in seasons 1 and 4 (Oct-March); wind was positively associated with radon values in counties with airports.

Conclusions:

It may be most beneficial for homeowners and certified radon measurement professionals to screen for radon during the months of October-March, when radon concentrations are the highest. High winds are associated with higher indoor radon values; to accurately assess long term radon exposure, it may be warranted to conduct radon testing during typical atmospheric conditions.

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