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Radon Testing: Community Engagement By a Rural Family Medicine Office

Objective: Iowa has the highest average radon concentrations in the nation, with an estimated 400 radon-induced lung cancer deaths each year. Radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer death overall. The objectives of this study were (1) to educate the population attending a family medicine office about the dangers of radon, (2) to encourage homeowners to test for radon, (3) to work with the community to identify resources for mitigation, and (4) to assess the utility of working with a local family medicine office as a model that could be adopted for other communities with high home radon concentrations.

Methods: Participants obtained a US Environmental Protection Agency– certified activated charcoal
short-term radon kit through their primary care office or by attending a seminar held by their medical
office. Participants completed a short investigator-developed questionnaire about their home, heating, and demographics.

Results: Of 746 radon kits handed out, 378 valid results (51%) were received, of which 351 questionnaires could be matched to the kit results. The mean radon result was 10.0 pCi/L (standard deviation, 8.5 pCi/L). A radon result of 4 pCi/L or higher, the Environmental Protection Agency action level for mitigation, was found in 81% of homes (n 285).

Conclusions: Four of 5 homes tested had elevated radon levels. This family medicine office/university collaborative educational model could be useful for educating patients about other environmental dangers. ( J Am Board Fam Med 2015;28:617– 623.)

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