Public Awareness and Perceptions Surrounding Radon Testing in a State With High Radon Emission Potential and Low Smoking Rates


Radon is the leading cause of lung cancer mortality among nonsmokers. Lung cancer leads cancer deaths in Utah, a state with 10% smokers and high radon emission potential. Understanding public awareness can help improve voluntary radon testing. The objective of this study was to identify patterns in radon awareness and testing in Utah. Utah's 2013 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System included questions about radon awareness and testing. We examined differences by demographics and county (moderate versus high estimated radon, rural versus urban) using Rao–Scott chi-squared tests and logistic regression. In total, 75% of Utah residents never tested their home for radon and 80% could not identify radon as a risk factor for lung cancer. Of nontesters, 40% were unaware of radon itself or testing. Testing was slightly more common in moderate radon counties (17%) than in the high radon counties (14%). Women, Hispanics, renters, persons with annual incomes $50,000, and persons without college degrees generally did not test for radon. People 55 years or older and living in rural counties were the least likely to identify radon as a risk factor for lung cancer. Radon testing and meaningful awareness of radon's link to lung cancer are low in Utah. Support is needed to improve radon education, awareness, and testing throughout the state.


Speaker / Author: 
Judy Y. Ou, MPH, PhD, Huntsman Cancer Institute, Division of Epidemiology, University of Utah
Joemy M. Ramsay, MS, Huntsman Cancer Institute
Jessica Smith, Department of Public Health, Brigham Young University
Wallace Akerley, MD, Huntsman Cancer Institute
Laura Martel, Utah AIDS Education and Training Center, University of Utah
Garrett Harding, Huntsman Cancer Institute
Eleanor Divver, MPH, Indoor Radon Program, Utah Department of Environmental Quality
Anne C. Kirchhoff, MPH, PhD, Huntsman Cancer Institute, Department of Pediatrics, University of Utah
Deanna Kepka, PhD, Huntsman Cancer Institute, College of Nursing, University of Utah
Month Year: 
October 2019
Page #: 
Publication Month: 
October 2019
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