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The exposure of United Kingdom miners to radon
  1. M. J. Duggan,
  2. P. J. Soilleux,
  3. J. C. Strong,
  4. D. M. Howell
  1. Radiological Protection Service, Sutton, Surrey


    Duggan, M.J., Soilleux, P.J., Strong, J.C., and Howell, D.M. (1970).Brit. J. industr. Med.,27, 106-109. The exposure of United Kingdom miners to radon. Airborne radon has been recognized as a probable cause of lung cancer since the epidemiological studies made in the mining communities of Schneeberg and Jachymov during the 1920s and 1930s. Uranium miners are generally exposed to high concentrations of radon, and the growth of the uranium mining industry in the past 20 years has therefore stimulated a great amount of work on the risk from inhalation of radon and its daughters. However, there is still no general agreement on either the physical measurements in which the maximum permissible concentration in air should be expressed or the numerical value of this concentration.

    There are no uranium mines being worked in the United Kingdom but there are considerable numbers of coal and other mines. It was therefore decided to make some radon measurements in a selection of mines in the UK to see if there was any prospect of obtaining useful dose-risk data. Measurements were made in 22 mines in all - 12 coal mines and 10 other mines - and the highest concentrations were found in three haematite mines in West Cumberland and in the two tin mines which were visited. The concentrations in these five mines were, in general, greater than 0·3 of a working level (WL) and in many locations were greater than 1 WL.

    Because of these findings and also because an excess incidence of lung cancer among West Cumberland haematite miners has been previously reported, a further study of the mortality experience of West Cumberland miners has been carried out by Boyd, Doll, Faulds, and Leiper (1970). Their findings are reported in this Journal (p. 97).

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