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J Radiol Prot. 2008 Mar;28(1):61-71. doi: 10.1088/0952-4746/28/1/003. Epub 2008 Feb 26.

Lowering the UK domestic radon Action Level to prevent more lung cancers--is it cost-effective?

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Medical Physics Department, Northampton General Hospital, Northampton, UK.


Case studies have shown that radon gas can accumulate within domestic properties at sufficiently high levels that it can cause lung cancer, and recent studies have suggested that this risk remains significant below the UK domestic Action Level of 200 Bq m(-3). Raised radon levels can be reduced by engineering measures, and it has been shown that domestic radon remediation programmes in UK Affected Areas can result in reduced risks to the population and can be cost-effective. We consider here the benefits and costs of the domestic radon remediation programme in Northamptonshire, UK, and consider the implications for that programme of reducing the UK Action Level below its present value. A radon remediation programme based on an Action Level above 200 Bq m(-3) will cost less and will target those most at risk, but will be less cost-effective and will lead to higher residual dose and greater risk of cancer in the remaining population. Reducing the Action Level below 200 Bq m(-3) will prevent more cancers, but at significantly higher cost. It will also be less cost-effective, because remediation of a significant number of houses with moderate radon levels will provide only a modest health benefit to occupants. Overall, a completed radon remediation programme of the type implemented in Northamptonshire is most cost-effective for an Action Level between 200 and 300 Bq m(-3). The implications for future health policy are discussed.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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