Leukemia in childhood and adolescence and exposure to ionizing radiation in homes built from uranium-containing alum shale concrete

Epidemiology. 2002 Mar;13(2):146-50. doi: 10.1097/00001648-200203000-00008.


Concerns in Sweden about indoor radon around 1980 prompted measurements of gamma-radiation from the facades of houses to identify those constructed of uranium-containing alum shale concrete, with potentially high radon concentrations. To evaluate any possible risk of acute lymphocytic leukemia from exposure to elevated gamma-radiation in these homes, we identified the acute lymphocytic leukemia cases less than 20 years of age in Sweden during 1980-1989 as well as eight controls per case from the population registry, matching on age, gender, and county. Using the existing measurements, exposure was assessable for 312 cases and 1,418 controls from 151 properly measured municipalities. A conditional logistic odds ratio of 1.4 (95% confidence interval = 1.0-1.9) was obtained for those ever having lived in alum shale concrete houses, with the average exposure exceeding 0.10 microsieverts per hour. Comparing those who ever lived in alum shale concrete houses (divided by higher and lower annual average exposure) with those who never lived in such houses, we found a weak dose-response relation. The results suggest some risk of acute lymphocytic leukemia from indoor ionizing radiation among children and young adults.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Carcinogens, Environmental / adverse effects
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Confidence Intervals
  • Gamma Rays*
  • Housing*
  • Humans
  • Odds Ratio
  • Precursor Cell Lymphoblastic Leukemia-Lymphoma / epidemiology*
  • Radon / adverse effects
  • Sweden / epidemiology


  • Carcinogens, Environmental
  • Radon