Childhood cancer mortality and radon concentration in drinking water in North Carolina

Br J Cancer. 1991 Apr;63(4):626-9. doi: 10.1038/bjc.1991.143.


We explored the association between groundwater radon levels and childhood cancer mortality in North Carolina. Using data from two state-wide surveys of public drinking water supplies, counties were ranked according to average groundwater radon concentration. Age and sex-adjusted 1950-79 cancer death rates among children under age 15 were calculated for counties with high, medium, and low radon levels. Overall cancer mortality was increased in counties with medium and high radon levels. The strongest association was for the leukaemias, but risks were also suggested for other sites. These associations could be due to confounding or other biases, but the findings are consistent with other recent reports.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Child
  • Humans
  • Leukemia, Radiation-Induced / mortality
  • Neoplasms, Radiation-Induced / mortality*
  • North Carolina / epidemiology
  • Radon / adverse effects*
  • Risk Factors
  • Water Pollutants, Radioactive / adverse effects*


  • Water Pollutants, Radioactive
  • Radon