Residential radon exposure : awareness and risk perception in rural Montana
Radon is a natural part of the environment representing significant potential health risks within the home. Variations in knowledge and perception of risk related to radon exposure exist among diverse populations and the known link to lung cancer is not known by all that are at risk. Both the World Health Organization and the United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) conduct large efforts to raise awareness and educate residents how to lower indoor radon to an acceptable level. These efforts show variable efficacy and in some places radon awareness and testing rates remain very low. Montana is classified as a high-risk area for indoor radon concentrations of an unacceptable level according to the USEPA. In order to evaluate the efficacy of current educational efforts, it is important to measure the level of awareness and concern that exists especially in high-risk areas. This study uses data from a nursing-based environmental health hazard intervention to measure the perceived knowledge and risk perception surrounding radon exposure among residents of rural Montana. Findings indicate that awareness is low and the majority of residents lack strong feelings of concern about radon. These findings are discussed in relation to existing literature and studies related to radon and how the role of the advance practice nurse can be used to positively impact public health in relation to radon exposure prevention.