File for download

YOUR LUNGS ARE AT RISK NOT ONLY FROM CIGARETTES, BUT ALSO FROM RADON

The radioactive gas radon occurs widely in nature. After smoking, it is the next biggest risk factor for lung cancer. When radon is inhaled, it undergoes radioactive decay and the newly born alpha particles irradiate the tissue of the airways (Fig. 1). This can cause damage to the tissue, which may result in cancer. As in the case of cancer due to smoking, radon-induced cancer does not arise immediately. On an average, it takes between 10 and 30 years for symptoms to appear. While smokers know about the danger of smoking and accept the risk, many people are not aware that they are exposed to radon gas, which is colourless, odourlessand has no taste.


Fig. 1 - While in the lungs of smokers the tar is deposited, the lungs of people inhaling radon are exposed to alpha particles.

Radon originates directly from radioactive decay of radium (226Ra), which is a member of the radioactive decay chain of uranium (238U) (Fig. 2). Uranium is naturally present in rocks.


Fig. 2 - Scheme of the uranium decay chain. Radon decay products are highlighted by orange colour.

The influence of radon on human health has been proven in the Czech Republic and abroad. 13 European studies have shown that the risk of radon-induced lung cancer increases by approx. 15 % per 100 Bq/m³ (Fig. 3).


Fig. 3 - The orange line expresses how many times the risk of lung cancer increases in dependence on indoor radon concentration.