[ RadSafe ] radon and other carcinogens in mine air

Mark Sonter sontermj at tpg.com.au
Sun Mar 4 18:43:29 CST 2012

Hi All,

I think everyone will readily accept the carcinogenicity of radon 
daughters at high concentrations in underground mines. The lung cancer 
rate went to something like twenty-fold normal in the very 
ill-ventilated underground U mines of Colorado and Utah in the 1960s 
(miners' individual cumulative exposures of 20,000 CWLM or so average??)

Doubling Dose has for a generation now been thought to be 100 to 200 
CWLM.  But this is a 'movable goalpost', because the smoking experience 
of the workforce is changing rapidly, and thus the baseline lung cancer 
rate is dropping...

But, I remember Al Dory late of AECB in a Radiation in Uranium Mining 
Conference in Golden Colorado in 1981 (!!) getting exasperated with 
overly exact quantification of the radon (daughter) risk while we were 
still blithely ignorant of the size of the confounding factors 
represented by miner exposure to arsenic, asbestos, silica, nickel and 
PAHs (carcinogens all)....

My biggest worries during my operational days were airborne Respirable 
Free Silica, and the 'how the hell do I get a handle on the diesel soot 
/REC / PAH / benz a pyrene story??', not radon (daughters), which were 
at least dead easy to to measure (thanks to Howard Kusnetz, Robert 
Rolle, and Tom Borak).  Then in a later corporate role, my worry-driver 
was the discovery of widespread adventitious fibrous silicates 
(chrysotile, 'amosite', etc) in underground nickel mines. No crocidolite 
thank God...

I just think the epidemiology studies that purport to give radon 
daughter exposure-effect relationship are inevitably biassed, given that 
we do not have good dose data on these confounders.

Mark Sonter

Radiation Advice & Solutions Pty Ltd,   abn 31 891 761 435
Asteroid Enterprises Pty Ltd,   abn 53 008 115 302

116 Pennine Drive, South Maclean, Queensland 4280, Australia

Phone / fax  (07) 3297 7653   Mobile 0412 433 286 or 0447 755598

“Keep everything as simple as possible, but no simpler”  - A Einstein

"There are some ideas so wrong that they could only be believed by an 
intellectual" - G Orwell

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