The British Columbia Radon Data Repository – What is it and how can we use it?
Dr. David McVea
Indoor radon is an important cause of lung cancer in British Columbia (BC), responsible for about 15% of lung cancer deaths. The risk of radon-attributable lung cancers varies across the province, however, depending on geological factors as well as housing characteristics. Accurately assessing the risk posed by residential radon in BC requires sufficient measurements taken from representative samples of homes in each region.
To support this work, as well as other policy and research efforts, the British Columbia Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC) has established the British Columbia Radon Data Repository (BCRDR), which houses over 14,000 anonymized indoor radon measurements from across the province, including over 11,000 from residences. Measurements are collected from federal, provincial, and regional partner agencies as well as private radon professionals.
In this seminar, we describe the repository and highlight two uses for the data. First, the BCCDC has developed a new interactive map of indoor radon levels for the province. Users can visualise the estimated proportion of homes exposed to different levels of radon, at spatial scales from health authority to municipality. This visualization helps the public quickly understand the risk that radon poses and raises awareness with regions at particular risk.
Second, we present work using radon measurements to model the burden of radon-attributable lung cancer in BC, and the cost-utility of programs to reduce these burdens. We show these measures are highly dependent on regional radon concentration. Using data from the BCRDR, regions can accurately assess their risk and develop appropriate programs to protect the health of the public.
David McVea, Public Health Physician, Environmental Health Services, BC Centre for Disease Control
Jeffrey Trieu, Epidemiologist, BC Centre for Disease Control