Why do miners have an increased risk of radon poisoning?

Dr. Jeanne Morrison, PhD
Family Practitioner

Radon poisoning occurs when a person breathes an excessive amount of radon gas. Radon gas is produced from the spontaneous breakdown of uranium, which exists in dirt and rocks, so the air in mines tends to have elevated levels of radon. The relatively poor ventilation in many mines further increases their radon levels. These elevated levels explain why miners have an increased risk of developing radon poisoning, compared to people who do not work in mines. Individuals who work in uranium mines have the highest risk, but all mines have potentially high levels of radon. Other occupations involving work in underground passages (such as subway systems, utility tunnels, and caverns) are also associated with an increased risk of radon poisoning.

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