We demonstrate a strong correlation between domestic radon levels and socio-economic status (SES) in Great Britain, so that radon levels in homes of people with lower SES are, on average, only about two thirds of those of the more affluent. This trend is apparent using small area measures of SES and also using individual social classes. The reasons for these differences are not known with certainty, but may be connected with greater underpressure in warmer and better-sealed dwellings. There is also a variation of indoor radon levels with the design of the house (detached, terraced, etc.). In part this is probably an effect of SES, but it appears to have other causes as well. Data from other countries are also reviewed, and broadly similar effects seen in the United States for SES, and in other European countries for detached vs other types of housing. Because of correlations with smoking, this tendency for the lower SES groups to experience lower radon levels may underlie the negative association between radon levels and lung cancer rates in a well-known ecological study based on US Counties. Those conducting epidemiological studies of radon should be alert for this effect and control adequately for SES.

Type

Journal article

Journal

Journal of Environmental Radioactivity

Publisher

Elsevier