Radon risk communication: From raising awareness to behavioral change


Vandebosch Heidi, (Universiteit Antwerpen (UA)), heidi.vandebosch@uantwerpen.be

SCK•CEN Mentor

Perko Tanja, tperko@sckcen.be, +32 (0)14 33 28 51

Expert group

Nuclear Science and Technology Studies

Short project description

The exposure to radon in homes is one of the most important causes of lung cancer deaths worldwide (WHO, 2009). In Belgium, approximately 480 (7%) cases of lung cancer per year are estimated to be attributable to radon (FANC-AFCN, 2018)  Due to the considerable effects of radon on public health, comprehensive radon action programs, including communication on risks from radon, are required to be developed in all EU Member States following the 2013/59/Euratom Directive. While limited researches have explored affected population’s understanding of radon and  risk perception of radon, the research related to behavior change e.g. “measure and fix” is lacking. As a result, empirical evidence from different countries shows that there is a value-action gap, which means that there is no or low correlation between knowledge about radon (awareness) and actually doing a home radon test or applying mitigation actions (behavior change) by the affected population. Similar value-action gaps are reported in the field of medical applications of ionizing radiation (e.g. patients request CT scan) or from nuclear emergency recovery (e.g. consumers boycott food products from Fukushima). Therefore this PhD  aims to bridge the gap between awareness and radiation protection behavior. It will combine state of the art of behavioral models with health and risk communication models and apply them to the radiation protection field. The research aims to identify for the first time behavior change agents for radiation protection,  develop models and tools for effective, efficient, equitable and sustainable risk communication and formulate practical guidelines and communication tools to bridge the value-action gap for radiation protection in general and for radon in particular.

This research will be carried out under co-promotership of Prof. David Hevey of the Trinity College Dublin and in close cooperation with the Belgian Federal Agency for Nuclear Control FANC (Dr. Boris Dehandschutter).

The minimum diploma level of the candidate needs to be

Master of sciences

The candidate needs to have a background in

Communication , Social sciences

Estimated duration

4 years
Before applying, please consult the guidelines for application for PhD.