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Enhancing Nuclear Safety


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Radon exposure and the risk of leukemia: a review of epidemiological studies

Laurier D, Valenty M, Tirmarche M. Health Phys 2001 Sep;81(3):272-88

Summary

Since the 1990's, several authors estimated that radon inhalation may deliver a small amount of irradiation to the red bone marrow, and consequently may increase the risk of leukemia in humans. The objective of this review is to conduct a critical analysis of epidemiologic results currently available concerning the relationship between radon exposure and the risk of leukemia. Nineteen ecological studies, six miner cohort studies, and eight case-control studies published between 1987 and 2000 are included in this review. The limitations associated with each of these studies are discussed. The results of the ecological studies are relatively concordant and suggest an association between radon concentrations and the risk of leukemia at a geographic level. But these ecological studies present important limitations, and some are only crude analyses. Moreover, the results of the cohort and case-control studies, based on individual data, do not show any significant association between radon exposure and leukemia risk. Our conclusion is that the overall epidemiologic results currently available do not provide evidence for an association between radon exposure and leukemia.

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