We measured radon (222Rn) concentrations in Iowa and Minnesota and found that unusually high annual average radon concentrations occur outdoors in portions of central North America. In some areas, outdoor concentrations exceed the national average indoor radon concentration. The general spatial patterns of outdoor radon and indoor radon are similar to the spatial distribution of radon progeny in the soil. Outdoor radon exposure in this region can be a substantial fraction of an individual's total radon exposure and is highly variable across the population. Estimated lifetime effective dose equivalents for the women participants in a radon-related lung cancer study varied by a factor of two at the median dose, 8 mSv, and ranged up to 60 mSv (6 rem). Failure to include these doses can reduce the statistical power of epidemiologic studies that examine the lung cancer risk associated with residential radon exposure.
Steck DJ, Field RW, Lynch CF. 1999. Exposure to atmospheric radon. Environmental Health Perspectives 107(2): 123-127.