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Eur Respir J. 2012 May;39(5):1113-9. doi: 10.1183/09031936.00058211. Epub 2011 Oct 17.

Radon and COPD mortality in the American Cancer Society Cohort.

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Faculty of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies, McLaughlin Centre for Population Health Risk Assessment, Institute of Population Health, University of Ottawa, Ottawa, ON, Canada.


Although radon gas is a known cause of lung cancer, the association between residential radon and mortality from non-malignant respiratory disease has not been well characterised. The Cancer Prevention Study-II is a large prospective cohort study of nearly 1.2 million Americans recruited in 1982. Mean county-level residential radon concentrations were linked to study participants' residential address based on their ZIP code at enrolment (mean ± SD 53.5 ± 38.0 Bq · m(-3)). Cox proportional hazards regression models were used to estimate adjusted hazard ratios (HR) and 95% confidence intervals (CI) for non-malignant respiratory disease mortality associated with radon concentrations. After necessary exclusions, a total of 811,961 participants in 2,754 counties were included in the analysis. Throughout 2006, there were a total of 28,300 non-malignant respiratory disease deaths. Radon was significantly associated with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) mortality (HR per 100 Bq · m(-3) 1.13, 95% CI 1.05-1.21). There was a significant positive linear trend in COPD mortality with increasing categories of radon concentrations (p<0.05). Findings suggest residential radon may increase COPD mortality. Further research is needed to confirm this finding and to better understand possible complex inter-relationships between radon, COPD and lung cancer.

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