Radon potential, geologic formations, and lung cancer risk

Ellen J. Hahn, Yevgeniya Gokun, William M. Andrews, Bethany L. Overfield, Heather Robertson, Amanda Wiggins, Mary Kay Rayens

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations


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.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)342-346
Number of pages5
JournalPreventive Medicine Reports
StatePublished - Jun 1 2015

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2015 Elsevier Inc.


  • Environmental health
  • Geology
  • Lung neoplasms
  • Prevention & control
  • Radon

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Epidemiology
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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