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Residential Radon: Safe, Not Scary

Robert Hargraves's picture
Chief Marketing Officer ThorCon US

AB Dartmouth College mathematics; PhD Brown University high energy physics. Co-founder ThorCon International. Author "THORIUM: energy cheaper than coal". Chief Information Officer Boston...

  • Member since 2018
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  • Jan 2, 2017


This January EPA renews its anti-radon campaign. This is based on misconceptions. It needlessly frightens the public about harmless levels of natural radiation.

Radon gas is produced in minute quantities as uranium in rocks slowly decays over billions of years. It can seep up from the earth and accumulate in basements because it heavier than air. Radon is a noble gas so it doesn’t react chemically or biologically.


However radon decays within a few days, creating new radioactive atoms. These may cling to air-borne dust particles that might stick in your lung airways then cause a small radiation dose.

EPA thinks all radiation can potentially kill you with cancer, and recommends radon testing and remediation if radioactivity exceeds 4 pico-curies per liter of air. (Note that humans are naturally slightly radioactive at about 200,000 pico-curies.)

Here’s EPA’s scary graph of deaths (Worry not, it’s false).


EPA’s radon deaths are only based on an invalid theory called LNT. They are not observed, unlike the drunk driving deaths and others.

Biology recovers from many insults, including low level radiation. Cancer occurs only when the immune system is overwhelmed.

Here are US lung cancer deaths, by county. Red counties have the highest death rates, blue lowest.


Here’s radon, by county, blue lowest. More than 10% of homes in non-blue counties have radon exceeding EPA’s warning level.


But compare the two maps. The counties with less radon have more lung cancer deaths. EPA’s LNT theory is clearly wrong.

Bernhard Cohen studied the death rates, by county. They do drop with increasing radon, invalidating EPA’s LNT theory and warning.


This data shows how low-dose radiation actually has a protective heath effect, similar to the immune response caused by vaccines.

End politicized science at EPA

The radon scare was set off because of lung cancer in early uranium miners. They smoked and worked in dusty mines with high radon concentrations. The EPA still struggles to maintain public fear of all radiation, claiming that Cohen’s low-dose evidence must be wrong, even though he did take smoking into account. Over 150,000 smokers die annually of lung cancer. Residential radon is harmless.


Exposure limits set by EPA with LNT theory also impair progress in medicine and nuclear power. EPA rules ignore science, biology, and observed low-level radiation health effects. The limits are political, retained to appease small, vociferous groups.

This January EPA renews its radon campaign. The problem is this frightens the public about harmless levels of natural radiation. Such unfounded fears are the root cause of public resistance to nuclear power. Appeasing the frightened public by acting as if all radiation is harmful delays and raises costs for this emission-free, reliable, abundant energy source that can alleviate global warming and energy poverty.

Robert Hargraves's picture
Thank Robert for the Post!
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Thorkil Soee's picture
Thorkil Soee on Jan 2, 2017

High time we get rid of the old scaremongering and realize the facts as they are.
Radiation Hormesis: See
Even there is very little correlation between radiation and cancer. See

Keith Pickering's picture
Keith Pickering on Jan 2, 2017

Bob, I would also draw your attention to the following very important paper:

Simeonov, Kamen P., and Daniel S. Himmelstein. “Lung cancer incidence decreases with elevation: evidence for oxygen as an inhaled carcinogen.” PeerJ 3 (2015): e705.

Simeonov et al. showed that the second-leading cause of lung cancer is not radon, but living at low altitude. Radon was weakly significant as a protector against lung cancer (hormesis effect).

The real significance of Simeonov et al. is that it demonstrates that all previous radon/lung cancer studies (including case-controlled studies) must be viewed skeptically, if they have failed to include the effect of altitude as a possible confounding variable in their analysis. (And that includes almost every radon study ever done; although Cohen did include it in one of his later studies.)

The EPA’s scare tactics on radon is nothing short of a scandal. It’s non-science nonsense.

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