Radon in caves

What is Radon?
Why is it found in Caves?
What risk is the caver taking?

In 1994, the International Commission on Radiological Protection recommended the adoption of a risk factor equivalent to a lifetime risk of death of 0.0001 for chronic exposure to a radon gas concentration of 1 Bq m-3. On this basis, the estimated risk of contracting fatal lung cancer as a consequence of exposure to 200 Bq m-3 is about 2 in 100.
Full text & More info: CavingIreland
Radon in caves: clinical aspects
Historical, experimental and clinical evidence is presented to suggest that radon constitutes a relatively small carcinogenic risk for casual visitors to caves. The risk is dependent on radon levels and the smoking of tobacco. Show cave guides, chronically exposed to radon, may be at increased risk for lung cancer due to the effects of radon, especially if they are smokers of tobacco.
"Despite solid evidence that radon is a carcinogen, and that the risk rises with time of exposure (usually many years) and increased concentrations of radon, expressed in Bequerel per cubic metre (Bq/m3) in confined spaces, such as homes and caves (Darby et al., 2005) the risk varies with climate and geographical location. Because of the short times that casual cavers are exposed to radon, the risk of developing a lung cancer for a non-smoking caver can be considered very small; the risk is compounded for smokers."


" (...) the authors estimated the recreational caver spending 50 hours per year caving to have a lifetime risk of 1 in 12500 or 0·00008. For professional cavers, the lifetime risk is estimated, assuming 600 hours per year caving, for premature death from lung cancer, to be 1 in 1000."

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