University of Wisconsin–Madison Medical College of Wisconsin

Survey of Radon Testing and Mitigation by Wisconsin Residents, Landlords, and School Districts

Ryan A. Denu, PhD; Jessica Maloney; Carrie D. Tomasallo, PhD, MPH; Noah M. Jacobs; John K. Krebsbach; Amber L. Schmaling; Enio Perez, MPH; Andrew J. Bersch, MS; Tamara J. LeCaire, PhD; Jonathan G. Meiman, MD; Kristen M. Malecki, PhD, MPH; Noelle K. LoConte, MD

WMJ. 2019;118(4):169-176.

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Introduction: Radon is the second-leading cause of lung cancer in the United States, the leading cause of lung cancer in nonsmokers, and is estimated to cause 21,000 deaths every year. Radon is especially prevalent in the upper Midwest. This study aimed to assess radon testing and mitigation practices among residential homeowners, landlords, and school districts in Wisconsin.

Methods: Two survey sample datasets were used to assess radon testing and mitigation in residential homes: the Survey of the Health of Wisconsin (SHOW) and Wisconsin Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) survey. Wisconsin landlords and school administrators were surveyed to assess radon testing and mitigation in rental properties and schools, respectively.

Results: Approximately 30% of Wisconsin homeowners (22.1% from SHOW and 39.9% from BRFSS) have tested their properties for radon. Similarly, 31.0% of Wisconsin landlords (40/129) and 35.1% of Wisconsin school districts (78/222) have tested their schools for radon. Of homeowners with elevated radon, about 60% mitigated. School districts whose radon levels tested high most commonly did not mitigate, with costs and/or lack of funding cited as the most common barrier.

Discussion/Conclusion: Radon testing and mitigation practices are inadequate in Wisconsin, and future work will seek to determine the best methods to increase testing and mitigation and reduce radon-induced lung cancer deaths in Wisconsin.

Author Affiliations: Department of Medicine, University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health (UW SMPH), Madison, Wis (Denu, Jacobs, Krebsbach, Schmaling, LoConte); Carbone Cancer Center, UW, Madison, Wis (Denu, Jacobs, Kresbach, Schmaling, LoConte); Wisconsin Department of Health Services, Madison, Wis (Maloney, Tomasallo, Meiman); Medical College of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, Wis (Perez); Department of Population Health Sciences, UW SMPH, Madison, Wis (Bersch, LeCaire, Malecki).
Corresponding Authors: Ryan A. Denu, PhD, 6068 WIMR, 1111 Highland Ave, Madison, WI 53705, email; Noelle K. LoConte, MD, 600 Highland Ave, Madison, WI 53792, email
Acknowledgements: The authors thank Bill Field for helpful discussions; Colin Longhurst for assistance with power calculations; Xiao Zhang and Natalia Arroyo of the University of Wisconsin-Madison Cancer Prevention and Outcomes Data Shared Resource (C-POD) for critique of the landlord and school district surveys; Elizabeth Fracica for helpful discussions; and all the landlords and school district administrators who participated in our surveys.
Funding/Support: The project described was supported by the Clinical and Translational Science Award (CTSA) program, through the National Institutes of Health (NIH) National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS), grant UL1TR000427; the University of Wisconsin Carbone Cancer Center Support Grant P30 CA014520. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the NIH.
Financial Disclosures: None declared.
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