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Analyzing Spatial and Temporal Radon-222 Trends in Maine

February 21st, 2013

C. Farah, K, Beard, C.T. Hess, and J. Hock, 2012, Analyzing Spatial and Temporal Radon-222 Trends in Maine. Health Physics. 102(2) 115-123.


Prolonged radon exposure has been linked to lung cancer. Cancer registry data indicates excess risk for age-adjusted lung cancer in Maine. Maine’s mean residential radon activity exceeds the EPA maximum contaminant level (MCL). This paper describes the application of spatial autocorrelation methods to retrospective data as a means of analyzing radon activity in Maine. Retrospective air and well water radon activity data, sampled throughout Maine between 1993 and 2008, are standardized and geocoded for analysis. Three spatial autocorrelation algorithms-local Getis-Ord, local Moran, and spatial scan statistic-are used to identify spatial, temporal, and spatiotemporal radon activity clusters and/or outliers. Spatial clusters of high air- and well water-Rn activity are associated with Maine’s Lucerne and Sebago granitic formations. Spatial clusters of low air- and well water-Rn activity are associated with Biddeford Granite and the metamorphic bedrock formation Silurian Ordovician Vassalboro. Space-time analysis indicates that most spatial clusters persist over the period of sampling. No significant temporal clusters are identified. Persistent spatial variations in radon may help to better understand and predict radon-related health risks associated with Maine residences.

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