Canadian lung cancer relative risk from radon exposure for short periods in childhood compared to a lifetime

Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2013 May 8;10(5):1916-26. doi: 10.3390/ijerph10051916.


Long-term exposure to elevated indoor radon concentrations has been determined to be the second leading cause of lung cancer in adults after tobacco smoking. With the establishment of a National Radon Program in Canada in 2007 thousands of homes across the country have been tested for radon. Although the vast majority of people are exposed to low or moderate radon concentrations; from time to time; there are homes found with very high concentrations of radon. Among those living in homes with very high radon concentrations, it is typically parents of young children that demonstrate a great deal of concern. They want to know the equivalent risk in terms of the lifetime relative risk of developing lung cancer when a child has lived in a home with high radon for a few years. An answer to this question of risk equivalency is proposed in this paper. The results demonstrate clearly that the higher the radon concentration; the sooner remedial measures should be undertaken; as recommended by Health Canada in the Canadian radon guideline.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Age Factors
  • Air Pollutants, Radioactive / toxicity*
  • Canada
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lung Neoplasms / chemically induced*
  • Lung Neoplasms / epidemiology*
  • Male
  • Models, Biological
  • Neoplasms, Radiation-Induced / chemically induced
  • Neoplasms, Radiation-Induced / epidemiology*
  • Radon / toxicity*
  • Risk Assessment
  • Time Factors


  • Air Pollutants, Radioactive
  • Radon