Radon Testing Behavior in a Sample of Individuals with High Home Radon Screening Measurements

Authors

  • R. William Field,

    1. Department of Preventative Medicine and Environmental Health, Institute of Agricultural Medicine and Occupational Health, College of Medicine, Oakdale Campus, University of Iowa, Iowa City, Iowa 52242.
    2. To whom all correspondence should be addressed.
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  • Burton C. Kross,

    1. Department of Preventative Medicine and Environmental Health, Institute of Agricultural Medicine and Occupational Health, College of Medicine, Oakdale Campus, University of Iowa, Iowa City, Iowa 52242.
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  • La Verle J. Vust

    1. Department of Preventative Medicine and Environmental Health, Institute of Agricultural Medicine and Occupational Health, College of Medicine, Oakdale Campus, University of Iowa, Iowa City, Iowa 52242.
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Abstract

Although radon exposure has been identified as the second leading cause of lung cancer, fewer than 6% of U.S. homeowners test their homes for radon. This report examines participants’follow-up radon testing behavior subsequent to receiving an initial screening radon level greater than 20 pCi/L. Sixty-two participants in the Iowa State-Wide Rural Radon Screening Survey who had radon screening measurements over 20 pCi/L were questioned by phone survey 3 months after receipt of their radon screening result to assess: whether participants were aware of radon's health risk; if participants recalled the radon screening results; how participants perceived the relative health risk of radon and whether participants planned follow-up radon testing. Only 19% of the respondents specifically identified lung cancer as the possible adverse health outcome of high radon exposure, and the majority of participants underestimated the health risks high radon levels pose when compared to cigarettes and x-rays. In addition, less than one third (29%)of the participants actually remembered their radon screening level within 10 pCi/L 3 months after receiving their screening results. Only 53% of the individuals correctly interpreted their screening radon level as being in the high range, and only 39% of the participants planned follow-up radon measurements. Receipt of radon screening test results indicating high radon levels was not an adequate motivational factor in itself to stimulate further radon assessment or mitigation. Our findings suggest that free radon screening will not result in a dramatic increase in subsequent homeowner initiated remediation or further recommended radon testing.

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