Radon Exposure and Neurodegenerative Disease

Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2020 Oct 13;17(20):7439. doi: 10.3390/ijerph17207439.


Background: To carry out a systematic review of scientific literature about the association between radon exposure and neurodegenerative diseases. Methods: We performed a bibliographic search in the following databases: Pub med (Medline), Cochrane, BioMed Central and Web of Science. We collected the data by following a predetermined search strategy in which several terms werecombined. After an initial search, 77 articles were obtained.10 of which fulfilled the inclusion criteria. Five of these 10 studies were related to multiple sclerosis (MS), 2 were about motor neuron diseases (MND), in particular amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and 3 were related to both Alzheimer's disease (AD) and Parkinson's disease (PD). Results: The majority of the included articles, suggested a possible association between radon exposure and a subsequent development of neurodegenerative diseases. Some of the studies that obtained statistically significant resultsrevealed a possible association between radon exposure and an increase in MS prevalence. Furthermore, it was also suggested that radon exposure increases MND and AD mortality. Regarding AD and PD, it was observed that certainde cay products of radon-222 (222Rn), specifically polonium-210 (210Po) and bismuth-210 (210Bi), present a characteristic distributionpattern within the brain anatomy. However, the study with the highest scientific evidence included in this review, which investigated a possible association between the concentration of residential radon gas and the MS incidence, revealed no significant results. Conclusions: It cannot be concluded, although it is observed, that there is a possible causal association between radon exposure and neurodegenerative diseases. Most of the available studies are ecological so, studies of higher statistical evidence are needed to establish a causal relationship. Further research is needed on this topic.

Keywords: Alzheimer; Parkinson; amyotrophic lateral sclerosis; multiple sclerosis; neurodegenerative diseases; radon.

Publication types

  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Alzheimer Disease
  • Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis
  • Humans
  • Motor Neuron Disease / chemically induced*
  • Neurodegenerative Diseases / chemically induced*
  • Radon / adverse effects*


  • Radon