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Risk Anal. 1990 Mar;10(1):65-75.

Review of radon and lung cancer risk.

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Department of Medicine, University of New Mexico Medical Center, Albuquerque 87131.


Radon, a long-established cause of lung cancer in uranium and other underground miners, has recently emerged as a potentially important cause of lung cancer in the general population. The evidence for widespread exposure of the population to radon and the well-documented excess of lung cancer among underground miners exposed to radon decay products have raised concern that exposure to radon progeny might also be a cause of lung cancer in the general population. To date, epidemiological data on the lung cancer risk associated with environmental exposure to radon have been limited. Consequently, the lung cancer hazard posed by radon exposure in indoor air has been addressed primarily through risk estimation procedures. The quantitative risks of lung cancer have been estimated using exposure-response relations derived from the epidemiological investigations of uranium and other underground miners. We review five of the more informative studies of miners and recent risk projection models for excess lung cancer associated with radon. The principal models differ substantially in their underlying assumptions and consequently in the resulting risk projections. The resulting diversity illustrates the substantial uncertainty that remains concerning the most appropriate model of the temporal pattern of radon-related lung cancer. Animal experiments, further follow-up of the miner cohorts, and well-designed epidemiological studies of indoor exposure should reduce this uncertainty.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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