Radon

Radioactive decay of uranium from the Earth's crust results in radon particles, which has been associated with an increased risk of lung cancer in miners.46-49 Several ecological studies have demonstrated an increased risk of leukemia in areas with high levels of radon.50-52 One of the difficulties in interpreting these types of ecological comparisons is the lack of data regarding individual exposure. Two recent case-control studies of childhood leukemia have focused specifically on indoor radon exposure and risk of either ALL or AML. Lubin et al.53 found no association with indoor radon levels and risk of childhood ALL. Radon exposure was measured by detectors placed in the home(s) where the child resided at least 70 percent of the time, or greater than 5 years prior to diagnosis (or from birth for cases less than 5 years of age). Steinbuch et al.,49 in a study of childhood AML (173 cases, 254 controls), also found no overall association with indoor radon levels.49 However, there was an increased risk observed (p trend = .07) for children diagnosed at 2 years of age or greater (odds ratio [OR] = 1.62, 95 percent CI = 1.0 to 2.7; OR = 1.59, 95 percent CI = 0.8-3.2; for radon concentrations of 37-100, and >100 Bq m-3, respectively). Although the authors speculate that this finding may be due to chance, it raises the possibility that there may exist a subset of children who are vulnerable to higher doses of indoor radon.

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