PaRTERRE - Prospective cohort study on skin cancer and residential radon exposure

Radon is a natural radioactive gas that penetrates into buildings from soil. It is well acknowledged that radon is the second common cause of lung cancer after smoking. Recently, some studies found indications that radon may increase the risk for skin cancer. A plausible mechanism would be radon attached to aerosols deposited on the skin similar to inhaled radon into the lung. This study aims to use radon measurements from 150,000 buildings in Switzerland to build a prediction model for estimating radon levels in each building in Switzerland. By linking these predictions to data from the Swiss National Cohort from 2000 to 2016, we will evaluate the risk of radon for malignant melanoma mortality. In addition, the link with malignant and non-malignant skin cancer incidence will be investigated using Cancer registry data from the French and Italian part of Switzerland.

This large study will substantially contribute to a better understanding of the risk factors for skin cancer. After Australia and New Zealand, Switzerland is ranking third worldwide for malignant melanoma incidence. Besides UV radiation, radon may also be a risk factor. Radon levels in Switzerland are higher than in most other countries. To know if there is a link is thus of high public health relevance.

Vienneau D, Boz S, Forlin L, Flückiger B, de Hoogh K, Berlin C, Bochud M, Bulliard J.L, Zwahlen M, Röösli M. Residential radon - comparative analysis of exposure models in Switzerland. Environ Pollut. 2021;271:116356. DOI: 10.1016/j.envpol.2020.116356


Danielle Vienneau

Danielle Vienneau, PD, PhD
Group Leader, Scientific Project Leader


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