szmtag Radon Balneology (15.10.2010)
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Curative waters were regarded as containing radon only if the concentration was higher than 18 nanocuries. For inhalation, spa towns were still happy with an aerosol concentration of about 5 nanocuries/liter. Gas was released from natural spring water, and people taking spa cures were placed under perspex covers at their inhalation seats. The main indications were rheumatic disorders (1, 2).

The Erlangen-Nürnberg working group pointed out twice in their article (3) that emanations other than from uranium mines were not their subject. However, they none the less requested a rigorous risk-benefit analysis of such emanations. However, if they then categorize radon as “the second most important cause of lung cancer [after cigarette smoking] in the general population without occupational exposure,” then readers of medical journals might expect to see a clear position on curative treatments using radon.

In my place of birth we often played in a radon cave, whose entrance had been destroyed in the second world war. We grew up in a wine growing area, and instead of torches we used candles in the long tunnel (where concentrations of carbon dioxide are high the flame will extinguish). Later at school we learnt that if spring water flows over radium containing rock (Ra 223/half life 1600 years), the first resulting breakdown product to become dissolved in the water is radon (Rn 222). The noble gas radon has a half life of 3.28 days and is said to be soluble not only in water and blood but also in fat. Depending on the breathing techniques of test volunteers and on environmental temperatures, concentrations of between 0.6 and 1.6 picocuries/ml blood have been measured in the Böckstein thermal healing cave at Bad Gastein.

DOI: 10.3238/arztebl.2010.0730a

Dr. med. Helmut Schlarb

Antoniusplatz 1

49661 Cloppenburg, Germany

Conflict of interest statement
The author declares that no conflict of interest exists according to the guidelines of the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors.

1.
Dirnagl K: Die Technik der Radoninhalation. Naheland-Kalender 1984; 169–70.
2.
Braunbehrens H v.: Über Radonkuren. Naheland-Kalender 1984; 171–2.
3.
Schmid K, Kuwert T, Drexler H: Radon in indoor spaces—An underestimated risk factor for lung cancer in environmental medicine
[Radon in Innenräumen: Ein in der umweltmedizinischen Diskussion unterschätzter Risikofaktor für Lungenkrebs]. Dtsch Arztebl Int 2010; 107(11): 181–6. VOLLTEXT
1.Dirnagl K: Die Technik der Radoninhalation. Naheland-Kalender 1984; 169–70.
2.Braunbehrens H v.: Über Radonkuren. Naheland-Kalender 1984; 171–2.
3.Schmid K, Kuwert T, Drexler H: Radon in indoor spaces—An underestimated risk factor for lung cancer in environmental medicine
[Radon in Innenräumen: Ein in der umweltmedizinischen Diskussion unterschätzter Risikofaktor für Lungenkrebs]. Dtsch Arztebl Int 2010; 107(11): 181–6. VOLLTEXT