IRSN, Institut de radioprotection et de sûreté nucléaire

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Enhancing Nuclear Safety



Childhood leukemia incidence and exposure to indoor radon, terrestrial and cosmic gamma radiation

Anne-Sophie Evrard1,2, Denis Hémon1,2, Solenne Billon3, Dominique Laurier3,
Eric Jougla4, Margot Tirmarche3, and Jacqueline Clavel1,2
Health Phys. 90(6):569 –579; 2006


This study was undertaken to evaluate the ecological association between terrestrial and cosmic gamma radiation, indoor radon, and acute leukemia incidence among children under 15 y of age. From 1990 to 2001, 5,330 cases of acute leukemia were registered by the French National Registry of Childhood Leukemia and Lymphoma. Exposure to terrestrial gamma radiation was based on measurements, using thermoluminescent dosimeters, at about 1,000 sites covering all the “Départements.” In addition, 8,737 indoor terrestrial gamma dose rate measurements covering 62% of the “Départements” and 13,240 indoor radon concentration measurements covering all the “Départements” were made during a national campaign. Cosmic ray doses were estimated in each of the 36,363 “Communes” of France. There was no evidence of an ecological association between terrestrial gamma dose (range: 0.22– 0.90 mSv y-1) or total gamma dose (range: 0.49 –1.28 mSv y-1) and childhood acute leukemia incidence, for acute myeloid leukemia (AML) or for acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL), in univariate or multivariate regression analyses including indoor radon. A significant positive association between indoor radon (range: 22–262 Bq m-3) and AML incidence among children was observed and remained significant in multivariate regression analyses including either terrestrial gamma dose [SIR per 100 Bq m-3 1.29 (1.09 –1.53)] or total gamma dose [SIR per 100 Bq m-3 1.29 (1.09 –1.53)]. The study showed no ecological association between terrestrial gamma radiation and childhood leukemia for the range of variation in gamma dose rates observed in France. The moderate ecological association between childhood AML incidence and indoor radon does not appear to be confounded by terrestrial gamma dose.

1/ INSERM, U754, Villejuif, France;
2/ Université Paris Sud, IFR69, Villejuif, France; 
3/ Institut de Radioprotection et de Sûreté Nucléaire, IRSN/DRPH/SRBE/LEPID, Fontenay-aux-Roses, France;
4/ INSERM, Centre Epidémiologique sur les Causes Médicales de Décès, CépiDc, Le Vésinet, France.
For correspondence or reprints contact: Anne-Sophie Evrard,
INSERM-U754, 16, Avenue Paul Vaillant-Couturier, F-94807 Villejuif
Cedex, France, or email at

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The IRSN's laboratory which participated to the study



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