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Epidemiology and Health 2019;e2019004.
DOI: https://doi.org/10.4178/epih.e2019004    [Accepted] Published online February 12, 2019.
Health effects of exposure to radon: implications of the radon bed mattress incident
Songwon Seo  , Wi-Ho Ha  , Jin-kyu Kang  , Dalnim Lee  , Soojin Park  , Tae-Eun Kwon  , Young Woo Jin 
Korea Institute of Radiological and Medical Sciences, Seoul, Korea
Correspondence  Young Woo Jin ,Tel: 02-3399-5800, Email: ywjin@kirams.re.kr
Received: December 14, 2018  Accepted after revision: February 12, 2019
Abstract
Radon is a naturally occurring radioactive material formed when uranium and thorium found in the earth’s crust or construction materials slowly decay. Internal exposure to radon accounts for about half of the natural background radiation dose of which humans are exposed to annually. Radon is a carcinogen and is the second leading cause of lung cancer following smoking. The association between radon and lung cancer has been consistently reported in epidemiological studies on mineworkers and the general population with indoor radon exposure. However, radon’s association with other diseases, such as leukemia and thyroid cancer, has not been clearly established. Radiation dose is assessed by applying different dose conversion coefficients according to the source (e.g., radon or thoron) and form of exposure (e.g., internal or external). However, if the estimated dose is identical, its effects on human health are also identical regardless of the source or form of exposure (assuming that individuals have the same sensitivity to radiation). Recently, radiation exceeding the annual dose limit of the general population (1 mSv/year) was detected in bed mattresses produced by D company due to the use of monazite-based anion powder containing uranium/thorium. This has sparked concerns about health hazards caused by radiation exposure on mattress users. In this regard, this study presents scientific information about the assessment of radon and thoron exposure and its human implications for human health, which is a recent topic of interest and debate in society.
Keywords: Radon; Exposure; Cancer; Risk
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