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Radiology. 1989 Sep;172(3):593-9.

Radon: is it a problem?

Author information

  • 1Department of Radiology, University of New Mexico School of Medicine, Albuquerque 87131.

Erratum in

  • Radiology 1989 Dec;173(3):881.


Radon gas is a major source of radiation exposure to the general public. Radon-222 is a product of uranium-238, present in varying concentrations in all soils. Radon enters buildings from soil, water, natural gas, and building materials. Its short-lived breakdown products, termed "radon daughters," include alpha-emitting solids that can deposit in the lungs. Firm evidence links lung cancer risk in miners with high exposure to radon daughters. The amount of risk associated with the much lower but chronic doses received in buildings is difficult to establish. By some extrapolations, radon daughters may be responsible for a significant number of lung cancer deaths. The existence or extent of synergism with smoking is unresolved. Local conditions can cause high levels of radon in some buildings, and measures that reduce indoor radon are of potential value.

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