Residential radon in Canada: an uncertainty analysis of population and individual lung cancer risk

Risk Anal. 2005 Apr;25(2):253-69. doi: 10.1111/j.1539-6924.2005.00587.x.


Following a comprehensive evaluation of the health risks of radon, the U.S. National Research Council (US-NRC) concluded that the radon inside the homes of U.S. residents is an important cause of lung cancer. To assess lung cancer risks associated with radon exposure in Canadian homes, we apply the new (US-NRC) techniques, tailoring assumptions to the Canadian context. A two-dimensional uncertainty analysis is used to provide both population-based (population attributable risk, PAR; excess lifetime risk ratio, ELRR; and life-years lost, LYL) and individual-based (ELRR and LYL) estimates. Our primary results obtained for the Canadian population reveal mean estimates for ELRR, PAR, and LYL are 0.08, 8%, and 0.10 years, respectively. Results are also available and stratified by smoking status (ever versus never). Conveniently, the three indices (ELRR, PAR, and LYL) reveal similar output uncertainty (geometric standard deviation, GSD approximately 1.3), and in the case of ELRR and LYL, comparable variability and uncertainty combined (GSD approximately 4.2). Simplifying relationships are identified between ELRR, LYL, PAR, and the age-specific excess rate ratio (ERR), which suggest a way to scale results from one population to another. This insight is applied in scaling our baseline results to obtain gender-specific estimates, as well as in simplifying and illuminating sensitivity analysis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Air Pollutants, Radioactive*
  • Air Pollution, Indoor
  • Air Pollution, Radioactive
  • Canada
  • Environmental Exposure
  • Housing
  • Humans
  • Life Tables
  • Lung / radiation effects*
  • Lung Neoplasms / epidemiology*
  • Lung Neoplasms / etiology*
  • Lung Neoplasms / mortality
  • Models, Statistical
  • Models, Theoretical
  • Neoplasms, Radiation-Induced / epidemiology*
  • Radon*
  • Risk
  • Risk Assessment
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Sex Factors
  • Smoking
  • Time Factors
  • Uncertainty


  • Air Pollutants, Radioactive
  • Radon