Radon alarmist debunks scare in own NYTimes op-ed

Longtime radon alarmist Bill Field sabotages his own argument.

Field writes:

…Scientifically rigorous epidemiology studies in North America and Europe have clearly established the link between radon exposure in the home and lung cancer. It is the leading environmental cause of cancer mortality in the United States and is expected to be the seventh leading cause of cancer death overall this year…

But if you click on the “establish the link,” you get a study that reports:

…Odds ratios (ORs) for lung cancer increased with residential radon concentration. The estimated OR after exposure to radon at a concentration of 100 Bq/m3 in the exposure time window 5 to 30 years before the index date was 1.11 (95% confidence interval = 1.00-1.28)…

Aside from the folly of the weak statistical association, the 95% confidence interval includes the no-effect level of 1.0 — so this result on its face is not statistically significant.

Thanks, Bill.

5 thoughts on “Radon alarmist debunks scare in own NYTimes op-ed”

  1. Back in 1983, I debated Michu Kaku, physicist seen today on many TV programs, on the merits of nuclear power at Georgia Southern University. He made a statement back in the 1940-50s many Native-Americans died from lung cancer due to working at uranium mines where they were exposed to radon. Our government had burned up Native-Americans.

    I had with me a reference book on development of nuclear energy and I remembered a statement on mining which stated there were deaths from lung cancer amoung miners; but all of them where white people who
    smoked and no Native-Americans died because they did not smoke. I read this quote to the audience and the JAMA reference and the debate was over. No one believed anything Kaku had said.

  2. The burden is on alarmists to show that typical exposures to radon cause lung cancer — a negative proposition can’t be proven anyway.

    Assuming Field gave it his best shot, a study with statistically insignificant results doesn’t meet his burden.

  3. I have yet to find a medical study that indicates that alpha particle exposure is good for the lungs, although there are many references that indicate the opposite is indeed true. Can you please provide a credible reference for us?

  4. Could you explain in layman’s terms what is meant by “weak statistical association” and the 95% confidence interval including the no-effect level of 1.0? I just found this site and it’s very interesting, but I have difficulty grasping some of the explanations. Thank you!

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