The role of the implementation of policies for the prevention of exposure to Radon in Brazil—a strategy for controlling the risk of developing lung cancer

14 Sep 2015
Aline da Rocha Lino, Carina Meira Abrahão, Marcus Paulo Fernandes Amarante, Marcelo Rocha de Sousa Cruz

Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death in the United States and other industrialised countries. The most important risk factor is active smoking. However, given the increased incidence of lung cancer in non-smokers, it is necessary to improve knowledge regarding other risk factors. Radon (Rn) is a noble gas and is the most important natural source of human exposure to ionizing radiation. Exposure to high levels of this radioactive gas is related to an increased risk of developing lung cancer. The objective of this work is to highlight the importance of measuring indoor concentration of this gas and identify which steps should be taken for achieving radiological protection.

A survey was conducted on the websites of the National Health Surveillance Agency (ANVISA), LAMIN (Mineral Analysis Laboratory), CPRM (Geological Survey of Brazil), Ministry of Health and PubMed. Using the words ‘radon’, ‘lung’, ‘cancer’, and PubMed®, 1,371 results were obtained; when using the words ‘radon’, ‘lung’, ‘cancer’, and with ‘Brazil’ or ‘Brazilians’, only six results were obtained. We emphasise that lung cancer is a major public health problem and the exposure to Rn indoors should be considered as a risk factor for lung cancer in non-smokers. Buildings or houses with high concentrations of Rn should be identified. However, currently in Brazil—a country with great potential for mineral extraction—there are no specific regulated recommendations to control indoor exposure to Rn.

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