Cost-effectiveness of radon remediation programmes in the UK in the 2020s

Anthony Roger Denman*, Chris Groves-Kirkby, Robin Crockett

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticle

Abstract

Radon, a gaseous radioactive decay product of naturally-occurring uranium is widely distributed in the environment in rocks and soils and, in certain circumstances, can accumulate in the built environment. Initial studies confirmed a direct link between exposure to both radon gas and its short-lived radioactive progeny, and increased lung-cancer incidence, and demonstrated that radon levels in domestic housing can be sufficiently high to expose occupants to increased risk of lung- cancer. Subsequent studies worldwide have shown that it is cost-effective to detect and reduce domestic radon levels in order to reduce this risk.
Recent advances in the early detection of lung-cancer, coupled with the development of improved treatment procedures, have progressively improved survival from the disease, with the numbers surviving at 5 years doubling over recent years, during which period the real costs of lung cancer treatment have risen by around 30 %. In the meantime, however, in addition to radon and tobacco- smoke, other airborne pollutants have been identified as risk-factors for lung-cancer. This paper reviews both these actual developments and anticipated future trends, and concludes that since these advances in diagnosis and treatment of lung-cancer have had only a modest effect on cost- effectiveness, it is still important to conduct radon monitoring and remediation programmes. While the general increase in life-expectancy improves the cost-effectiveness of radon remediation programmes significantly, reducing tobacco-smoking incidence reduces that cost-effectiveness but with the overall benefit of reducing radon-related lung-cancers. The challenge remains of encouraging affected householders to remediate their homes to reduce radon levels.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-8
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Environmental Radioactivity
Volume222
Early online date18 Jul 2020
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 18 Jul 2020

Keywords

  • Radon
  • Remediation
  • Cost Effectiveness
  • Lung Cancer
  • Survival
  • Life years Lost

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