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Models for retrospective quantification of indoor radon exposure in case-control studies

, : Models for retrospective quantification of indoor radon exposure in case-control studies. Health Physics 78(3): 268-278

In epidemiologic studies on lung cancer risk due to indoor radon the quantification of individual radon exposure over a long time period is one of the main issues. Therefore, radon measurements in one or more dwellings, which in total have been inhabited by the participants for a sufficient time-period, are necessary as well as consideration of changes of building characteristics and ventilation habits, which influence radon concentration. Given data on 1-y alpha-track measurements and personal information from 6,000 participants of case-control studies in West and East Germany, an improved method is developed to assess individual radon exposure histories. Times spent in different rooms of the dwelling, which are known from a personal questionnaire, are taken into account. The time spent outside the house (average fraction 45%) varies substantially among the participants. Therefore, assuming a substantially lower radon exposure outside the dwelling, the residence time constitutes an important aspect of total radon exposure. By means of an analysis of variance, important determinants of indoor radon are identified, namely constant conditions such as type of house (one family house or multiple dwelling), type of construction (half-timbered, massive construction, lightweight construction), year of construction, floor and type of basement, and changeable conditions such as heating system, window insulation, and airing habits. A correction of measurements in former dwellings by factors derived from the analysis is applied if current living conditions differ from those of the participants at the time when they were living in the particular dwellings. In rare cases the adjustment for changes leads to a correction of the measurements with a factor of about 1.4, but a reduction of 5% on average only. Exposure assessment can be improved by considering time at home and changes of building and ventilation conditions that affect radon concentration. The major concern that changes in ventilation habits and building conditions lead to substantial errors in exposure (and therefore risk) assessment cannot be confirmed in the data analyzed.


PMID: 10688449

DOI: 10.1097/00004032-200003000-00004

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