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The cost-effectiveness of lower radon reference levels

News: Mar 15, 2018

In a new publication (forthcoming in Health Policy) Mikael Svensson at Health Metrics together with Lars Barregård, Gösta Axelsson and Eva Andersson assesses the cost-effectiveness of a policy to lower the reference levels for indoor radon.

Exposure to radon in residential buildings is estimated to be the second leading cause of lung cancer (the primary cause is cigarette smoking). Most countries have guidelines (reference levels) stating that indoor radon levels should not be above 200 Bq/m3.

Based on a number of new epidemiological findings indicating substantial health benefits from lowering indoor radon levels even further, the World Health Organization (WHO) has suggested that radon reference levels should be lowered to 100 Bq/m3.

The aim in the research study was to assess the cost-effectiveness if Sweden was to comply with the suggestion by WHO. By comparing the costs of radon remediation to the benefits, measured as the gain in quality adjusted life years (QALYs), the results indicate that the necessary investments to comply with a radon reference level of 100 Bq/m3 implies a cost per each gained QALY of around 1.25 million Swedish kronor. This is higher than what policy makers typically consider to be an acceptable cost-effectiveness and this indicates that in the Swedish setting it would not make sense to comply with the WHO suggestion. The same amount of resources required to comply could instead be used for more cost-effective investments that would provide larger health benefits.

However, the results did show that it is cost-effective to reduce radon reference levels to 100 Bq/m3 for new buildings. The reason is that it is much less costly to reduce radon levels in new constructions. In sum, this suggests that Swedish policy makers and government authorities may want to consider a lower radon reference level for new construction.

For further information about the study contact Mikael Svensson.

Update

The published study titled A cost-effectiveness analysis of lowering residential radon levels in Sweden—Results from a modelling study (Health Policy, 2018) can be found vid the DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.healthpol.2018.03.009
 

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