Exposure to radon gas in homes is the second leading cause of lung cancer after smoking, according to a study carried out by researchers from the University of Cantabria and the Babes-Bolyai University in Romania. The team has studied data on exposure to this element in a uranium mining area in Transylvania and in an area of granite in Torrelodones, Madrid.
Numerous studies worldwide have shown that radon, a natural radioactive gas that seeps into homes in some regions, is the second leading factor (after smoking) in causing people to develop lung cancer. This has now also been confirmed by a study carried out in Torrelodones, Madrid, and Stei, in Romania, by researchers from the University of Cantabria and the Romanian Babes-Bolyai University, and which has been published recently in the journal Science of the Total Environment.
The authors estimated the death rate due to lung cancer attributable to radon and smoking in the areas studied between 1994 and 2006, using population data from the National Statistics Institute (INE), and data on radon exposure conditions and related risks taken from European epidemiological studies. The result was double that which would have been expected based on a relative risk report produced in 2006 for the whole of Europe on cancer incidence and mortality.
"The study shows that radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer, after smoking, as has also been shown by many other studies carried out over the years in various parts of the world", Carlos Sainz, co-author of the study and a researcher for the Ionizing Radiation Group at the University of Cantabria, tells SINC.
In order to carry out their study, the authors used detectors to measure radon levels in 91 homes in the town over several months, as well as asking residents about their habits, such as whether or not they were smokers. The data were processed using a complex IT programme (European Community Radon Software), and
FECYT - Spanish Foundation for Science and Technology