Letters to the Editor,
The Times, 1 Pennington Street,
London E98 1TA.
The recent editorial, Home radon cleared of cancer risk to children (The Times, 8th June), based on a paper in the British Journal of Cancer by Prof. Raymond Cartwright et al., causes the undersigned great concern. Prof. Cartwright’s paper makes it quite clear that the major risk of radon is lung cancer rather than ‘childhood cancers’. The radon hazard, which not only affects granite areas but also areas such as Buxton and Northampton, accounts for around 2500 adult deaths each year from lung cancer according to Health Departments in the UK, making it second only to smoking as a cause of cancer. Lung cancer may take up to fifteen years to appear, and, despite modern treatments, prognosis remains generally poor. Since the gas is odourless, colourless, tasteless and not immediately and obviously toxic (see http://www.radonhotline.org, it is all too easily dismissed as out of sight and out of mind. The organizations extending across Europe that strive to increase public awareness, educate and formulate methods of remediation in the home and workplace are not helped by the implication that radon has no risk at all if there is no significant risk of ‘childhood cancers’.
Fredk. A. Fryer, Chairman of the Radon Council.
Dennis Papworth OBE, President of the Radon Council.
Gavin K. Gillmore, Chairman of the Universities Radon Network, Department of Environmental Science, University of Bradford.
Antony R. Denman, Head of Department of Medical Physics, Northampton General Hospital NHS Trust.
Paul S. Phillips, Professor of Environmental and Waste Management, Director of the SITA centre for sustainable waste management, University College Northampton.
David R. Williams OBE, Professor of Chemistry, Department of Chemistry, Cardiff University.