Assessment of the Lung Cancer Risk from Radiation Exposures Due to Airtightening of Dwellings for Energy Conservation

  • Werner Burkart
Part of the NATO ASI Series book series (NSSA, volume 124)


In parts of the Swiss Alps, the high radium content of crystalline rock and soil may produce considerable indoor levels of radon in dwellings with low air infiltration. Radon measurements in conventional single family homes in such an area during the winter of 82/83 showed an arithmetic mean average radon concentration in living quarters and cellars of 307 Bq/m3 (8.3 pCi/l) and 1410 Bq/m3 (38.1 pCi/l), respectively. Assuming an increase in the radon concentration of 80% due to air tightening measures as inferred from a matched pair analysis of Swiss dwellings, weatherstripping may produce an average increase in the radon level in the living quarters of 245 Bq/m3 (6.6 pCi/1). Doses to the lung over a lifetime in such buildings approach or even exceed the doses encountered by some miner populations with clearly increased lung cancer risk.

An estimate based on UNSCEAR 82 conversion factors yields an additional exposure of 0.014 mSv (1.37 mrem) per kWh saved. This value converts to a risk factor which is several orders of magnitude higher than those from large scale energy production systems.


Radon Concentration Lung Cancer Risk Indoor Radon Radon Level Lung Cancer Incidence 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1986

Authors and Affiliations

  • Werner Burkart
    • 1
  1. 1.Health Physics Division, Abt. 81Eidgenoessisches Institut fuer ReaktorforschungWuerenlingenSwitzerland

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