OBJECTIVE: Exposure to radon is associated with approximately 10% of U.S. lung cancer cases. Geologic rock units have varying concentrations of uranium, producing fluctuating amounts of radon. This exploratory study examined the spatial and statistical associations between radon values and geological formations to illustrate potential population-level lung cancer risk from radon exposure.

METHOD: This was a secondary data analysis of observed radon values collected in 1987 from homes (N = 309) in Kentucky and geologic rock formation data from the Kentucky Geological Survey. Radon value locations were plotted on digital geologic maps using ArcGIS and linked to specific geologic map units. Each map unit represented a package of different types of rock (e.g., limestone and/or shale). Log-transformed radon values and geologic formation categories were compared using one-way analysis of variance.

RESULTS: Observed radon levels varied significantly by geologic formation category. Of the 14 geologic formation categories in north central Kentucky, four were associated with median radon levels, ranging from 8.10 to 2.75 pCi/L.

CONCLUSION: Radon potential maps that account for geologic factors and observed radon values may be superior to using observed radon values only. Knowing radon-prone areas could help target population-based lung cancer prevention interventions given the inequities that exist related to radon.

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Published in Preventive Medicine Reports, v. 2, p. 342-346.

© 2015 Elsevier Inc.

This is an open access article under the CC BY-NC-ND license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/).

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