Nuclear Energy pp 313-315 | Cite as

Radon Problems

  • Bernard L. Cohen


Radon is a naturally occurring radioactive gas derived from the decay of uranium—actually, uranium decays into thorium, which then decays into radium, which in turn decays into radon. As uranium is naturally present in all rock and soil, radon is constantly being generated in them and in materials derived from them like brick, stone, cement, and plaster. Being a gas, this radon diffuses out into the air where it and some of its radioactive decay products are inhaled by humans. If the methods used for estimating health effects of radiation in all other contexts are applied to this exposure, the results indicate that radon inhalation is now causing about 10,000 fatal lung cancers per year in the U.S. This is several times the fatality toll from all other radiation, natural and manmade, combined. Incidentally, insulation of all houses according to government recommended standards would trap the naturally evolving radon inside for longer times and thereby cause an additional 10,000 fatalities/year, so on this basis, energy conservation poses a far greater radiation threat to human health than nuclear power.


Mining Uranium Nuclear Industry Radon Level Radon Emission Mill Tailing 
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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1985

Authors and Affiliations

  • Bernard L. Cohen
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PhysicsUniversity of PittsburghPittsburghUSA

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