Yonsei Med J.  2019 Jul;60(7):597-603. 10.3349/ymj.2019.60.7.597.

Health Effects of Radon Exposure

  • 1Dongnam Radiation Emergency Medical Center, Busan, Korea.
  • 2Department of Radiation Oncology, Dongnam Institute of Radiological & Medical Sciences, Busan, Korea.
  • 3National Radiation Emergency Medical Center, Korea Institute of Radiological & Medical Sciences, Seoul, Korea. ywjin@kirams.re.kr


Radon is a naturally occurring radioactive material that is formed as the decay product of uranium and thorium, and is estimated to contribute to approximately half of the average annual natural background radiation. When inhaled, it damages the lungs during radioactive decay and affects the human body. Through many epidemiological studies regarding occupational exposure among miners and residential exposure among the general population, radon has been scientifically proven to cause lung cancer, and radon exposure is the second most common cause of lung cancer after cigarette smoking. However, it is unclear whether radon exposure causes diseases other than lung cancer. Media reports have often dealt with radon exposure in relation to health problems, although public attention has been limited to a one-off period. However, recently in Korea, social interest and concern about radon exposure and its health effects have increased greatly due to mass media reports of high concentrations of radon being released from various close-to-life products, such as mattresses and beauty masks. Accordingly, this review article is intended to provide comprehensive scientific information regarding the health effects of radon exposure.


Radon; inhalation exposure; lung neoplasm
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