Indoor radon and lung cancer in France

Epidemiology. 2004 Nov;15(6):709-16. doi: 10.1097/01.ede.0000142150.60556.b8.


Background: Several case-control studies have indicated an increased risk of lung cancer linked to indoor radon exposure; others have not supported this hypothesis, partly because of a lack of statistical power. As part of a large European project, a hospital-based case-control study was carried out in 4 areas in France with relatively high radon levels.

Methods: Radon concentrations were measured in dwellings that had been occupied by the study subjects during the 5- to 30-year period before the interview. Measurements of radon concentrations were performed during a 6-month period using 2 Kodalpha LR 115 detectors (Dosirad, France), 1 in the living room and 1 in the bedroom. We examined lung cancer risk in relation to indoor radon exposure after adjustment for age, sex, region, cigarette smoking, and occupational exposure.

Results: We included in the analysis 486 cases and 984 controls with radon measures in at least 1 dwelling. When lung cancer risk was examined in relation to the time-weighted average radon concentration during the 5- to 30-year period, the estimated relative risks (with 95% confidence intervals) were: 0.85 (0.59-1.22), 1.19 (0.81-1.77), 1.04 (0.64-1.67), and 1.11 (0.59-2.09) for categories 50-100, 100-200, 200-400, and 400+ becquerels per cubic meter (Bq/m), respectively (reference <50 Bq/m). The estimated relative risk per 100 Bq/m was 1.04 (0.99-1.11) for all subjects and 1.07 (1.00-1.14) for subjects with complete measurements.

Conclusions: Our results support the presence of a small excess lung cancer risk associated with indoor radon exposure after precise adjustment on smoking. They are in agreement with results from some other indoor radon case-control studies and with extrapolations from studies of underground miners.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Air Pollutants, Radioactive / analysis
  • Air Pollution, Indoor / adverse effects*
  • Confidence Intervals
  • Environmental Exposure / adverse effects*
  • Female
  • France / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Lung Neoplasms / epidemiology
  • Lung Neoplasms / etiology*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Radon / analysis*
  • Risk Factors
  • Smoking
  • Time Factors


  • Air Pollutants, Radioactive
  • Radon