Radon progeny exposure and lung cancer risk among non-smoking uranium miners

Health Phys. 2000 Oct;79(4):365-72. doi: 10.1097/00004032-200010000-00004.


Studies of miners provide the basis for public health efforts to reduce residential radon progeny exposure. Because the preponderance of households do not have members who smoke indoors, studies of non-smoking miners contribute essential data for risk assessments for residential radon progeny exposure. We studied a cohort of 2,209 never-smokers who were underground uranium miners employed in the western U.S. from 1956 to the early 1990's and who participated in a screening program for lung cancer conducted by Saccomanno and colleagues. After determining the vital status and cause of death in the cohort, we conducted a nested case-control study of 55 lung cancer deaths in males and 3 age-matched controls for each case. The relative risk of lung cancer was 29.2 (95% CI 5.1, 167.2) for miners with greater than 1,450 WLM compared with those exposed to less than 80 WLM. Temporal factors affected risk, including average dose rate, which was inversely associated with lung cancer risk, and the length of time since last exposure, which was directly associated with decreased risk. As in studies of non-smokers and smokers combined, the exposure response relationship in never-smokers was consistent with a decreased slope at higher WLM, which resulted, in part, from an inverse dose rate effect.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Cause of Death
  • Cohort Studies
  • Ethnic Groups
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lung Neoplasms / epidemiology*
  • Lung Neoplasms / etiology
  • Lung Neoplasms / mortality
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Mining*
  • Neoplasms, Radiation-Induced / epidemiology*
  • Neoplasms, Radiation-Induced / mortality
  • Occupational Exposure*
  • Radon Daughters*
  • Risk Assessment
  • Smoking
  • Time Factors
  • United States / epidemiology
  • Uranium*


  • Radon Daughters
  • Uranium