Most models of residential radon exposure are based on studies of miners, and direct estimates of the risks posed to homeowners would be more desirable. Nonetheless, because of the difficulties of measuring the risk of radon relative to other contributors—namely smoking—models of their effect have often made use of them.
Radon is considered the second leading cause of lung cancer and leading environmental cause of cancer mortality according to the United States Environmental Protection Agency. Others have reached similar conclusions for the United Kingdom and France. Radon exposure in homes and offices may arise from certain subsurface rock formations and also from certain building materials (e.g. some granites). The greatest risk of radon exposure arises from buildings that are extremely well insulated and hence offer the least air exchange with the atmosphere.
The actionable concentration of radon in a home varies depending on the organization doing the recommendation, for example, the United States Environmental Protection Agency encourages that action be taken at concentrations as low as 74 Bq/m3 (2 pCi/L), and the European Union recommends action be taken when concentrations reach 400 Bq/m3 (11 pCi/L) for old houses and 200 Bq/m3 (5 pCi/L) for new ones.
On July 8, 2010 the UK’s Health Protection Agency issued new advice setting a “Target Level” of 100 Bq/m3whilst retaining an “Action Level” of 200 Bq/m3.
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