Toward a more realistic appraisal of the lung cancer risk from radon: the effects of residential mobility

Am J Public Health. 1996 Sep;86(9):1222-7. doi: 10.2105/ajph.86.9.1222.


Objectives: A consideration of the effects of residential mobility produces much more realistic estimates of typical individuals' radon exposures and mortality risks than those of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Methods: A model linking residential mobility, the distribution of radon in US homes, and lung cancer risk is used to simulate lifetime radon exposure, with and without mitigation of high-radon homes, for typical mobile individuals. Radon-related lung cancer mortality risks are then estimated for smokers and never-smokers.

Results: Most individuals residing in high-radon homes have equivalent lifelong radon exposures well below those they are currently experiencing. Consequently, actual lung cancer risks are generally well below those implied in the EPA's radon risk charts. For most people who mitigate high-radon homes, risk reduction is modest.

Conclusions: Radon may indeed be responsible for as large a population risk of lung cancer as the EPA estimates. However, caution must be used in interpreting the EPA's risk assessment for individuals; in many cases, mitigation will have little effect on residents' health risks.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Humans
  • Lung Neoplasms / etiology*
  • Lung Neoplasms / mortality
  • Middle Aged
  • Models, Theoretical
  • Population Dynamics*
  • Radon / adverse effects*
  • Radon / isolation & purification
  • Risk Assessment
  • Risk Factors
  • Smoking / adverse effects*
  • Time Factors
  • United States
  • United States Environmental Protection Agency


  • Radon