Exposure to radon gas at schools, Cohen's paradox and public health policy
Karsenty, E.; Leventhal, A.
Harefuah 140(9): 872
ISSN/ISBN: 0017-7768 PMID: 11579742 Accession: 046044881
Finding Radon levels above the legal threshold in schools and private homes has become an highly publicized problem in Israel, due to the rising awareness of the public to environmental matters and its influence on human health. However in the last decade a growing number of research reports have put serious doubts upon the validity of the scientific model used for assessing the health risk due to exposure to low intensity ionising radiation. The present paper surveys the development of the critics of the Linear No-Threshold Hypothesis (LNTH) that was used up to now as a scientific basis for public health policy in this field. The implications for the Israeli population and Health authorities are discussed. In the authors' opinion, controlling radon levels is an aim by itself, irrespectively of its causal relationship to lung cancer, and is part of a wider policy of maintaining the background exposure to ionizing radiation of the Israeli population to the lowest possible level. However its role in prevention of lung cancer morbidity and mortality is neglectable, and efforts must concentrate upon prevention and cessation of smoking. Smoking remains the most important preventable cause of lung cancer, and potentialize the effects of all other possible carcinogens.