Southeastern Section - 64th Annual Meeting (19–20 March 2015)

Paper No. 9
Presentation Time: 1:00 PM-5:00 PM


OVERFIELD, Bethany and ANDREWS Jr., William, Kentucky Geological Survey, University of Kentucky, 228 Mining & Mineral Resources Bldg, Lexington, KY 40506-0107,

The Kentucky Geological Survey has been applying geologic map data to help delineate the potential for radon hazards in Kentucky homes. Radon is a colorless, odorless, radioactive gas naturally produced from various minerals in geologic formations. Radon can accumulate in enclosed spaces in certain structures, most commonly in basements and crawl spaces, and at higher concentrations radon can pose a health hazard and is considered to be the second leading contributor to lung cancer behind tobacco smoke. Understanding the potential distribution of radon is the first step in mitigating this invisible hazard. Previous public health publications delineated radon hazard zones using county boundaries, which coincided with public health administration districts. However, geology—and thus potential for radon production—can vary widely within a county, so arbitrary political boundaries are not a useful tool to illustrate the distribution of radon potential. The Kentucky Geological Survey has begun a collaboration with researchers at the University of Kentucky College of Nursing studying indoor air quality to develop more realistic radon potential maps using geologic boundaries from available detailed geologic maps combined with a database of in-home measurements of radon. Several projects have been completed thus far, including a pilot study demonstrating the utility of using geologic maps to delineate radon potential for Boyle County, Kentucky, a statistical study validating the idea that different geologic units are associated with different measured values of radon, and a series of five county-level radon potential maps in areas where the College of Nursing is targeting public awareness and mitigation campaigns.