Sunday, February 7, 2010

Lung cancer when radon invites himself home

Radon is a naturally occurring radioactive gas accounts for 9% of annual deaths from lung cancer in Europe. This carcinogen kills miners for centuries. But it is also present in our homes, where, even at low doses, it is particularly dangerous.

Radon is a carcinogen

For the French population exposure to radon is a major source of exposure to ionizing radiation. Radon is a radioactive gas that is naturally concentrated in poorly ventilated habitats. And we spend 90% of our lives in buildings, 70% at home. But radon is a lung carcinogen. He represents the 2nd cause of lung cancer. Although it lags far behind smoking, radon is responsible for approximately 9% of deaths from lung cancer in Europe. In France, the annual number of deaths from lung cancer is attributable to residential exposure to radon vary from 1234 to 2913, ie 5 to 12% of the 25,134 deaths from lung cancer in France.

Low doses of radon enough ...

According to one analysis identified in an article published in the Weekly Epidemiological Bulletin (BEH), the risk of lung cancer increases by 8.4% for every increase of 100 Bq/m3 the measured concentration of radon, which is adjusted an increase of 16%. But in the homes of people with cancer, the average concentration of radon is 104 Bq/m3 cons 97 Bq/m3 in the control group. Thus, most deaths are attributable to exposures well below 200 Bq/m3: 47% occur among 76% of French who are exposed to concentrations at 0 and 99 Bq/m3, 27% among those exposed to 9% over 200 Bq/m3. If we divided the subjects into groups according to concentrations of radon to which they are exposed, we find a linear relationship between cancer risk and cumulative dose. In other words, there is no threshold of dangerousness. The risk is almost the same for concentrations between 100 and 200 Bq/m3 and for concentrations below 100 Bq/m3.

In France, the average exposure is 90 Bq/m3, with lower concentrations in urban areas than in rural areas. Some departments were classified with high potential for radon. This is particularly the case of Brittany and Corsica where radon is responsible for 20% of annual deaths from lung cancer.

Please note that smoking is a powerful co-risk factor, especially since it is ubiquitous.

Protection against radon

The impact of radon exposure on the health of the population requires the implementation of policy actions. The Nuclear Safety Authority (NSA) has developed an action plan for 2005-2008 interdepartmental coordinating the actions of various national bodies involved in this field. It is organized around 3 themes:

- Construct a new policy for risk management of radon in existing houses and new construction;
- Supporting and monitoring the implementation of regulations for managing the risk associated with radon in public places;
- Improve and disseminate knowledge about exposures and risks associated with radon.

Note that exposures can be significantly reduced in homes by means often simple:

* Increase the level of aeration.
* Breakdown under floors.
* Installation of barrier antiradon.
* Sealing of soils.
* Boucher cracks.
* Avoid porous materials.
* For new homes: building pressure with double ventilation system sumps and connected to an extractor to pump the radon coming from the basement to the outside.

Note that there are devices for measuring the concentration of radon in his apartment. They are "dosimeters" that can be purchased from one company that sells (Algade, Dosirad, Saphymo). You can also use a professional.

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