A geospatial approach to the prediction of indoor radon vulnerability in British Columbia, Canada

Michael C. Branion-Calles, Trisalyn A. Nelson, Sarah B. Henderson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Radon is a carcinogenic radioactive gas produced by the decay of uranium. Accumulation of radon in residential structures contributes to lung cancer mortality. The goal of this research is to predict residential radon vulnerability classes for the province of British Columbia (BC) at aggregated spatial units. Spatially referenced indoor radon concentration data were partitioned into low, medium, and high classes of radon vulnerability. Radon vulnerability classes were then linked to environmental and housing data derived from existing geospatial datasets. A Balanced Random Forests algorithm was used to model environmental predictors of indoor radon vulnerability and values at un-sampled locations across BC. A model was generated and evaluated using accuracy, precision, and kappa statistics. The influence of predictor variables was investigated through variable importance and partial dependence plots. The model performed 34% better than a random classifier. Increased probabilities of high vulnerability were associated with cold and dry winters, close proximity to major river systems, and fluvioglacial and colluvial soil parent materials. The Kootenays and Columbia-Shuswap regions were most at risk. Here, we present a novel method for predictive radon mapping that is broadly applicable to regions throughout the world.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)554-565
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Exposure Science and Environmental Epidemiology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 1 2016


  • Keywordsempirical/statistical model
  • environmental monitoring
  • exposure modeling

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Epidemiology
  • Toxicology
  • Pollution
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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