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April 1991

Health Effects of Radon Exposure: Report of the Council on Scientific Affairs, American Medical Association

Author Affiliations

From the Council on Scientific Affairs, American Medical Association, Chicago, Ill.

Arch Intern Med. 1991;151(4):674-677. doi:10.1001/archinte.1991.00400040028007

The consensus of scientists is that exposure to radon is hazardous, but disagreement exists about the effects of lower radon concentrations. Studies of underground miners have indicated that the risk of lung cancer increases in proportion to the intensity and duration of exposure to radon, and a recent authoritative report (BEIR IV) has concluded that estimates based on those studies are appropriate for estimating risks for occupants of homes. The BEIR IV report concluded that smoking cigarettes increases the risk of lung cancer associated with radon. Average radon levels in US homes range from 0.055 to 0.148 Bq/L (1.5 to 4 pCI/L), depending on the circumstances of measurement. Few studies have investigated health outcomes in occupants of homes with high radon levels. In advising patients about reducing the risks associated with radon, physicians should consider the costs, as well as the benefits, of remedial actions, and they should emphasize that, by far, the best way to avoid lung cancer is to stop smoking.

(Arch Intern Med. 1991;151:674-677)

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