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Indoor radon and deaths from lung cancer

BMJ 2009; 338 doi: (Published 07 January 2009) Cite this as: BMJ 2009;338:a3128
  1. Anssi Auvinen, professor of epidemiology1,
  2. Göran Pershagen, professor of environmental epidemiology2
  1. 1Tampere School of Public Health, 33014 University of Tampere, Finland
  2. 2Karolinska Institute, Institute of Environmental Medicine, 17 177 Stockholm, Sweden
  1. Anssi.Auvinen{at}

    Universal coverage of basic anti-radon measures may offer the best public health returns

    In the linked study (doi:10.1136/bmj.a3110), Gray and colleagues assess the contribution of indoor radon to deaths from lung cancer in the United Kingdom, and the cost effectiveness of policies to control radon.1

    Radon-222 is a chemically inert gas produced from radium, which is formed during the radioactive decay of uranium. Radon gas emits α irradiation, and exposure is defined in terms of activity concentration or level (becquerels per cubic meter of air, Bq/m3). Radon produced by the decay of uranium in the ground seeps upwards and enters buildings through cracks or holes in the foundations. In some cases, building materials or tap water can also be contaminated. The radon concentration of a dwelling depends on the amount of uranium and radium in the underlying soil, the degree of emanation of radon from the soil, how easily it enters a building, and whether it is removed from …

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