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Ionising radiation

Environmental Radioactivity - Medicine - Occupational Radiation Protection - Nuclear Hazards Defence

Ionisierende Strahlung

Health effects

Drawing of radon inside the lung Radon and health

The health risk due to radon is not so much due to radon itself but to its short-lived radioactive decay products.

The radon decay products contained in breathing air (radioactive isotopes of the elements polonium, bismuth, and lead) deposit in the respiratory tract where they decay completely.

This process produces high-energy alpha-radiation which may damage the cells, thus promoting the development of lung cancer.

Drawing of a house with three persons and radon in the ambient air

Health effects of radon

Radon can accumulate in the ambient air of closed rooms. Particularly harmful are its short-lived progeny which can deposit in the respiratory tract. Alpha radiation that accrues during decay can promote lung cancer. According to statistical risk calculations, nearly 1,900 deaths yearly are due to indoor radon in Germany. Within the European Union, 20,000 deaths yearly can be attributed to indoor radon.

Lounger inside a tunnel

Radon therapies

In a radon treatment, radioactive radon is applied to people for medicinal purposes. Patients are exposed to a high concentration of radon for a short period to alleviate pain for several months. The benefits and risks of radon therapy are controversial. Radon applications are not recommended as spa treatments.

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