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Selicity Icefire — Radon in the Willamette Valley: An Unexpected Hazard

When one thinks of Oregon a main rock type springs to mind, basalt. This is especially apparent in the Columbia River gorge and the Willamette Valley where this rock is easily visible. Even our majestic mountains are a mixture of basalt and andesite. So why does the Willamette valley have such a high concentration of the carcinogenic radon gas that is often associated with granitic rocks? The answer can be found in the events of the last ice age and the massive changes this time created. Radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer in the US overall and the leading cause among nonsmokers. Though an unexpected hazard in much of Oregon, there are solutions to the radon problem. It is simple to detect and mitigate, potentially saving hundreds of thousands of dollars in medical costs.

Selicity Icefire graduated from Portland State University in 2007 with a BS in anthropology (emphasis in archaeology) and a minor in geology. She returned to PSU in 2012 as a post-bac to earn her BS in geology. Under the guidance of Dr. Scott Burns her goal is to become an engineering geologist. Selicity is the main author of ‘The Importance of Season in the Testing of Radon using Short-Term tests in Residential Structures, Portland, Oregon’. The study’s conclusions have been presented at the Geological Society of America national meeting 2013, 2014 Oregon Academy of Science meeting, Portland State University Research Symposium 2014, and the Geological Society of America regional meeting 2014. She is also one of the recipients of the first annual Burns Scholarship Award.