Radon - Natural But Nevertheless A Health Hazard

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Scientists from the Health Protection Agency's Radiation Protection Division will be presenting their research on radon, at the Health Protection Agency's annual conference in Warwick . This will include some collaborative work with scientists from Oxford University on possible links between radon levels and childhood cancer

You can't see, hear, feel or taste radon but we all breathe it in throughout our lives. For most UK residents, radon accounts for half of their total annual radiation dose. It is a natural radioactive gas that comes from the minute amounts of uranium that occur naturally in all rocks and soil. Prolonged exposure to high levels is a health hazard and can increase the risk of lung cancer.

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The collaborative work with the Childhood Cancer Research Group at Oxford University will be described by Dr Gerry Kendall. It is a new investigation into possible correlations between levels of radon and terrestrial gamma rays and childhood cancer, extending and updating a study carried out a decade ago. The conference will also feature a number of presentations and posters on various aspects of the Agency's radon programmes including the Agency's radon probability map for England and Wales produced in collaboration with the British Geological Survey. The map is a more detailed version of one that is already in use and will be published later this year.

Another project focuses on the Radon Programme in England which the Agency's Radiation Protection Division is responsible for operating. Working closely with local authorities, they measure radon levels and provide information, support and advice on issues relating to radon. Last year an audit took place to find out if the programme was meeting the needs of those most at risk from the adverse health effects of radon and the results will be presented at this year's conference.

Dr Jill Meara, Deputy Director of the Radiation Protection Division, said:

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