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J Natl Cancer Inst. 1998 Feb 18;90(4):294-300.

Case-control study of childhood acute lymphoblastic leukemia and residential radon exposure.

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Division of Cancer Epidemiology and Genetics, National Cancer Institute, Bethesda, MD, USA.



Several ecologic analyses have shown significant positive associations between mean indoor radon concentrations and risk of leukemia at all ages (acute myeloid leukemia and chronic lymphocytic leukemia) and for children (all leukemia, acute myeloid leukemia, and acute lymphoblastic leukemia [ALL]). As part of an age-matched, case-control study of childhood ALL in the United States, we investigated the association between the incidence of ALL in children under age 15 years and indoor radon exposure.


Radon detectors were placed in current and previous homes of subjects where they resided for 6 months or longer. Children were included in analyses if radon measurements covered 70% or more of the 5-year period prior to diagnosis for case subjects (or from birth for case subjects under age 5 years) and the corresponding reference dates for control subjects. Radon levels could be estimated for 97% of the exposure period for the eligible 505 case subjects and 443 control subjects.


Mean radon concentration was lower for case subjects (65.4 becquerels per cubic meter [Bqm(-3)]) than for control subjects (79.1 Bqm(-3)). For categories less than 37, 37-73, 74-147, and 148 or more Bqm(-3) of radon exposure, relative risks based on matched case-control pairs were 1.00, 1.22, 0.82, and 1.02, respectively, and were similar to results from an unmatched analysis. There was no association between ALL and radon exposure within subgroups defined by categories of age, income, birth order, birth weight, sex, type of residence, magnetic field exposure, parental age at the subject's birth, parental occupation, or parental smoking habits.


In contrast to prior ecologic studies, the results from this analytic study provide no evidence for an association between indoor radon exposure and childhood ALL.

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