Estimating the burden of lung cancer and the efficiency of home radon mitigation systems in some Canadian provinces

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Lung cancer (LC) is the leading cause of death of cancer in Canada in both men and women, and indoor radon is the second leading cause of LC after tobacco smoking. The Population Attributable Risk (PAR) is used to assess radon exposure risk. In this work we estimate the burden of LC in some Canadian provinces. We use the PAR to identify the radon levels responsible for most LC cases. Finally, we use the PAR function of the two variables, radon action and target levels, to search for a possible optimal mitigation program. Methods: The LC burden for Ontario, Alberta, Manitoba, Quebec and British Columbia was estimated using provincial radon and mortality data. Then the PAR and LC cases for these provinces were estimated over the period 2006–2009 at different given indoor radon exposure levels. Finally, the PAR function when radon action levels and radon target levels are variables was analyzed. Results: The highest burden of LC in 2006–2009 was in Ontario and Quebec. During the period 2006–2009, 6% of houses in Ontario, 9% of houses in Alberta, 19% of houses in Manitoba, 7% of houses in Quebec, and 5% of houses in British Columbia had radon levels higher than 200 Bq/m3 and were responsible about 913, 211, 260, 972, and 258 lives, respectively. Radon mitigation programs could have prevented these LC cases. The BEIR VI assumption for the United States (US) population, 95% of LC deaths in men and 90% of LC deaths in women are Ever-Smokers (ES), can be applied to the Canadian population. The PAR is a linear function in the target radon value with an estimated slope of 0.0001 for Ontario, Alberta, Quebec and British Columbia, and 0.0004 for Manitoba. The PAR is almost a square root function in the radon action level. The PAR is sensitive to changes in the radon mitigation program and as such, any improvement is a worthwhile investment.

Original languageBritish English
Pages (from-to)287-306
Number of pages20
JournalScience of the Total Environment
StatePublished - 1 Jun 2018


  • Attributable risk
  • Burden of disease
  • Lung cancer
  • Mitigation program efficiency
  • Radon gas
  • Residential radon
  • Sensitivity analysis


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