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About the Radon State Data Exchange

Radon remains a leading cause of cancer. EPA, states, tribes, industry and laboratories all collect radon data. These programs have differing data needs, reporting requirements, thresholds, calculation protocols and approaches to validation and verification of data.

Despite these differences, each of these data collections share the common purpose of improved tracking and understanding of radon exposure. Data are information and information is the programmatic foundation for effective radon risk reduction. The officials leading these programs need access to data that are reliable, consistent, flexible and comparable across programs. While a significant amount of radon data exists today, there are currently no systems that allow for the examination of data from multiple sources, or to draw larger conclusions about radon at a regional or national level.

For several years, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Environmental Public Health Tracking Network (CDC EPHTN), EPA and states have worked collaboratively and developed the capability for receiving standardized radon test and mitigation data from state and local health and environmental departments, made the data available on the Tracking Network for secure access by participating partners, documented lessons learned from the pilot programs, and ascertained the practicality of scaling up to a national level database. EPA and CDC are expanding this approach to 6-12 additional states and potentially to at least one private laboratory. A key goal of the project is to explore Nationally Consistent Data and Measures (NCDM) to ensure compatibility and comparability of data and measures useful for understanding the impact of our environment on our health. State and Tribal partners have an opportunity to use the Network to improve access to radon data and promote better management of exposure risks.

Initially, New Jersey Department of Environmental Quality developed an XML schema and a set of web services for publishing radon data that the state’s health department securely accesses. Other states, tribes and territories can replicate this model using the resources that New Jersey created. More information on these resources, including the XML schema and Flow Configuration Document, is available on the Exchange Network website.

The majority of the data included in NJ’s database are similar to that identified as “core radon data elements” by the Radon State Data Exchange work group. CDC’s Radon Task Force developed “Radon Monitoring and Data Collection in the United States” to investigate the merits (opportunity, cost and value) of developing public health indicators associated with residential exposure to naturally occurring radon gas. In early 2014, CDC created the Radon Workgroup to pilot test the feasibility for States to submit radon data into a national radon database and to standardize previously non-systemized data sources into a nationally consistent radon information resource. In 2015, CDC expanded the workgroup to include additional states and labs, re-examined data elements, created a national database of radon (in air) test data, refined the data dictionary and schema, and revised the data validation protocol. This work is ongoing with the number of states participating increasing each year.

EPA and CDC hope to subsequently scale the pilot to a national level database for public access. Both agencies will advance existing and promote new collaborations to obtain radon test/mitigation data, offer scientific expertise to determine NCDMs, and provide technical support to modify the infrastructure and functionality needed to host the database. For more information, please contact Peggy Bagnoli (bagnoli.peggy@epa.gov).