Geospatial analyses of radon, smoking, and lung cancer rates in New York State

Authors: William Barnes*, SUNY - Albany, Forest Swaciak, SUNY Albany
Topics: Medical and Health Geography
Keywords: Lung Cancer, Radon, Smoking, New York State, Smoking,
Session Type: Poster
Day: 4/4/2019
Start / End Time: 3:05 PM / 4:45 PM
Room: Lincoln 2, Marriott, Exhibition Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Radon is a radioactive noble gas often released by certain types of bedrock and which has been identified, due to its generally undetectable nature, as being a risk factor in an individual’s likelihood of developing lung cancer. Because of the prevalence of instances of radon and radon bearing bedrock such as shale across New York State, this study aimed to investigate whether radon and certain bedrocks such as shale held any association with lung cancer rates across counties in New York State. We collected data including New York counties and bedrock in which the spatial extent of shales was identified. We also retrieved data of radon, lung cancer rates, and smoking from the NYS department of health and associated them with individual counties. Treating lung cancer rates as the dependent variable, we adapted geographic weighted regression (GWR) analysis-and bivariate correlations on variables against cancer rates using GeoDa. Results confirmed smoking as the primary cause of lung cancer in the majority of New York counties, while indicating that counties in New York’s southern tier such as Chemung and Steuben Counties may owe their high cancer rates to radon. While not as strongly correlated with lung cancer as smoking, radon was found to be a health threat and strong determining factor in an individual’s risk of developing lung cancer across New York State, providing a deeper understanding and outlook towards the disease and its contributors on a statewide scale.

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