The risks to your health from radon
- Radon increases your risk of lung cancer
- The higher the radon, the longer the exposure, the greater the risk
- Radon causes over 1,100 deaths from lung cancer each year in the UK
- Half of these deaths occur among the quarter of the population who are current smokers
Radon produces a radioactive dust in the air we breathe. The dust is trapped in our airways and emits radiation that damages the inside of our lungs. This damage, like the damage caused by smoking, increases our risk of lung cancer.
How can I reduce my risk?
- Find out if you live in a radon risk area - do a search on here
- If you do, measure your home - order a test on here
- If the radon is high, reduce it - see our fact sheet on reducing radon
- If you smoke, give up
What is the evidence?
A European study, funded by Cancer Research UK and the European Commission showed that radon in the home increases the risk of lung cancer1. An independent report, Radon and Public Health estimated that radon is a cause in over 1,100 lung cancer deaths each year in the UK2.
Radon risks: details
The life-time risk of lung cancer due to radon is greatest for smokers.
Other radiation sources
Any radiation exposure carries a risk: the higher the exposure the higher the risk.
Risks other than lung cancer
It is mainly our lungs that are exposed to and damaged by radon. There is no consistent evidence that radon causes cancers elsewhere, or other harm.
To download a copy of this page as a leaflet in PDF format click here
- Radon in homes and risk of lung cancer: collaborative analysis of individual data from 13 European case-control studies. BMJ, 330, 223-237.
- Radon and Public Health. Report of an independent Advisory Group on Ionising Radiation. Chilton, Docs RCE 11, PHE 2009. Available as a free PDF download