Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Deaths From Lung Cancer Could Be Reduced By Better Policies To Control Indoor Radon, Experts Urge

Date:
January 9, 2009
Source:
BMJ-British Medical Journal
Summary:
About 1,100 people each year die in the UK from lung cancer related to indoor radon, but current government protection policies focus mainly on the small number of homes with high radon levels and neglect the 95 percent of radon-related deaths caused by lower levels of radon, according to a study.

About 1100 people each year die in the UK from lung cancer related to indoor radon, but current government protection policies focus mainly on the small number of homes with high radon levels and neglect the 95% of radon related deaths caused by lower levels of radon, according to a study published on the British Medical Journal website.

Related Articles


The authors argue that installing basic and cheap measures to prevent radon in all new homes would be more cost-effective and have greater potential for reducing lung cancer deaths caused by radon, and UK Building Regulations should be amended to enforce this.

Radon in the home is a natural air pollutant produced by the decay of uranium in the ground. Radon gas seeps into buildings through cracks and holes in the foundations and when it decays it produces particles that can enter the lungs and expose them to damaging radiation.

At present, government policies in the UK concentrate on searching for homes with high levels of radon and encouraging homeowners to take remedial action at their own expense.

Professor Alastair Gray, Professor Sarah Darby and other colleagues from the University of Oxford, assessed the contribution of indoor radon to lung cancer deaths in the UK, and examined the cost- effectiveness of policies to control radon exposure. They used recent evidence on the risk of lung cancer from indoor radon, based on data from 7,000 people with lung cancer and more than 21,000 people without lung cancer across Europe. They then calculated the lifetime risk of lung cancer death before and after various interventions to control radon, and the costs involved.

The authors estimate that 1100 deaths a year in the UK are related to radon, about 3.3% of all deaths from lung cancer, but less than 5% of radon related deaths occur from exposure above the current action level. In addition, they report that many homeowners refuse to have their home tested or to spend money reducing radon levels. As a result these policies are costly and have a minimal impact on radon related deaths.

In contrast, the authors found that installing simple preventive measures in new homes is highly cost-effective, but at present is only being done in selected areas of the country. This should be rolled out across the whole UK, say the authors, and should be backed up by changes to the Building Regulations. A gas-resistant membrane in the foundations would reduce radon by about 50% and would cost only about £100.

Importantly, the study also found that six out of seven radon related lung cancers occur in people who smoke or who have smoked in the past. The best way for current smokers to reduce risk is to stop smoking. Current and former smokers can also reduce their risk by taking radon control measures seriously, say the authors.

The authors suggest that their findings are relevant to many other countries, most of which have higher concentrations of radon than the UK. The average radon concentration in UK homes is 21 bequerels per cubic metre, but in the European Union the average is 55, suggesting that about 8% of deaths from lung cancer, or 18,000 deaths each year, are caused by radon across the EU.

This is the most extensive and detailed evaluation to date of the policies to counter radon-induced and deaths from lung cancer, say Professor Anssi Auvinen from the University of Tampere in Finland and Professor Gφran Pershagen from the Institute of Environmental Medicine in Sweden, in an accompanying editorial.

The findings suggest that:"Radon policies need to be scrutinised [and particularly in populations with low average levels], the priority should be to apply basic measures universally rather than to take action only when high radon levels have been identified by measurement."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by BMJ-British Medical Journal. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

BMJ-British Medical Journal. "Deaths From Lung Cancer Could Be Reduced By Better Policies To Control Indoor Radon, Experts Urge." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 9 January 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/01/090106230722.htm>.
BMJ-British Medical Journal. (2009, January 9). Deaths From Lung Cancer Could Be Reduced By Better Policies To Control Indoor Radon, Experts Urge. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 20, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/01/090106230722.htm
BMJ-British Medical Journal. "Deaths From Lung Cancer Could Be Reduced By Better Policies To Control Indoor Radon, Experts Urge." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/01/090106230722.htm (accessed December 20, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Health & Medicine News

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

The Best Tips to Curb Holiday Carbs

The Best Tips to Curb Holiday Carbs

Buzz60 (Dec. 19, 2014) — It's hard to resist those delicious but fattening carbs we all crave during the winter months, but there are some ways to stay satisfied without consuming the extra calories. Vanessa Freeman (@VanessaFreeTV) has the details. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
Sierra Leone Bikers Spread the Message to Fight Ebola

Sierra Leone Bikers Spread the Message to Fight Ebola

AFP (Dec. 19, 2014) — More than 100 motorcyclists hit the road to spread awareness messages about Ebola. Nearly 7,000 people have now died from the virus, almost all of them in west Africa, according to the World Health Organization. Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Researchers Test Colombian Village With High Alzheimer's Rates

Researchers Test Colombian Village With High Alzheimer's Rates

AFP (Dec. 19, 2014) — In Yarumal, a village in N. Colombia, Alzheimer's has ravaged a disproportionately large number of families. A genetic "curse" that may pave the way for research on how to treat the disease that claims a new victim every four seconds. Duration: 02:42 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
The Best Protein-Filled Foods to Energize You for the New Year

The Best Protein-Filled Foods to Energize You for the New Year

Buzz60 (Dec. 19, 2014) — The new year is coming and nothing will energize you more for 2015 than protein-filled foods. Fitness and nutrition expert John Basedow (@JohnBasedow) gives his favorite high protein foods that will help you build muscle, lose fat and have endless energy. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins