Toggle Main Menu Toggle Search

Open Access padlockePrints

Calculation of lifetime lung cancer risks associated with radon exposure, based on various models and exposure scenarios

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Colin Muirhead



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License (CC BY-NC-ND).


The risk of lung cancer mortality up to 75 years of age due to radon exposure has been estimated for both male and female continuing, ex- and never-smokers, based on various radon risk models and exposure scenarios. We used risk models derived from (i) the BEIR VI analysis of cohorts of radon-exposed miners, (ii) cohort and nested case-control analyses of a European cohort of uranium miners and (iii) the joint analysis of European residential radon case-control studies. Estimates of the lifetime lung cancer risk due to radon varied between these models by just over a factor of 2 and risk estimates based on models from analyses of European uranium miners exposed at comparatively low rates and of people exposed to radon in homes were broadly compatible. For a given smoking category, there was not much difference in lifetime lung cancer risk between males and females. The estimated lifetime risk of radon-induced lung cancer for exposure to a concentration of 200 Bq m-3 was in the range 2.98%-6.55% for male continuing smokers and 0.19%-0.42% for male never-smokers, depending on the model used and assuming a multiplicative relationship for the joint effect of radon and smoking. Stopping smoking at age 50 years decreases the lifetime risk due to radon by around a half relative to continuing smoking, but the risk for ex-smokers remains about a factor of 5-7 higher than that for never-smokers. Under a sub-multiplicative model for the joint effect of radon and smoking, the lifetime risk of radon-induced lung cancer was still estimated to be substantially higher for continuing smokers than for never smokers. Radon mitigation - used to reduce radon concentrations at homes - can also have a substantial impact on lung cancer risk, even for persons in their 50s; for each of continuing smokers, ex-smokers and never-smokers, radon mitigation at age 50 would lower the lifetime risk of radon-induced lung cancer by about one-third. To maximise risk reductions, smokers in high-radon homes should both stop smoking and remediate their homes.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Hunter N, Muirhead CR, Bochicchio F, Haylock RGE

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Journal of Radiological Protection

Year: 2015

Volume: 35

Issue: 3

Pages: 539-539

Print publication date: 01/09/2015

Online publication date: 17/06/2015

Acceptance date: 27/05/2015

Date deposited: 01/06/2015

ISSN (print): 0952-4746

ISSN (electronic): 1361-6498

Publisher: IOP Publishing


DOI: 10.1088/0952-4746/35/3/539


Altmetrics provided by Altmetric