Tomasek, L., Rogel, A., Tirmarche, M., Mitton, N. and Laurier, D. Lung Cancer in French and Czech Uranium Miners: Radon-Associated Risk at Low Exposure Rates and Modifying Effects of Time since Exposure and Age at Exposure. Radiat. Res. 169, 125–137 (2008).
Radon is recognized as a public health concern for indoor exposure. Precise quantification derived from occupational exposure in miners is still needed for estimating the risk and the factors that modify the dependence on cumulated exposure. The present paper reports on relationship between radon exposure and lung cancer risk in French and Czech cohorts of uranium miners (n = 10,100). Miners from these two cohorts are characterized by low levels of exposure (average cumulated exposure of less than 60 WLM) protracted over a long period (mean duration of exposure of 10 years) and by a good quality of individual exposure estimates (95% of annual exposures based on radon measurements). The modifying effect of the quality of exposure on the risk is analyzed. A total of 574 lung cancer deaths were observed, which is 187% higher than expected from the national statistics. This significantly elevated risk is strongly associated with cumulated radon exposure. The estimated overall excess relative risk per WLM is 0.027 (95% CI: 0.017–0.043, related to measured exposures). For age at exposure of 30 and 20 years since exposure, the ERR/WLM is 0.042, and this value decreases by approximately 50% for each 10-year increase in age at exposure and time since exposure. The present study emphasizes that the quality of exposure estimates is an important factor that may substantially influence results. Time since exposure and simultaneously age at exposure were the most important effect modifiers. No inverse exposure-rate effect below 4 WL was observed. The results are consistent with estimates of the BEIR VI report using the concentration model at an exposure rate below 0.5 WL.