Coronary heart disease mortality and radon exposure in the Newfoundland fluorspar miners’ cohort, 1950–2001

Abstract of the journal article published in Radiation and Environmental Biophysics, August 2007

Paul J. Villeneuve1,2, Rachel S.D. Lane3 and Howard I. Morrison4.

1 Biostatistics and Epidemiology Division, Health Canada, Ottawa, ON
2 Department of Public Health Sciences, University of Toronto, Toronto, ON
3 Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission, Ottawa, ON
4 Public Health Agency of Canada, Ottawa, ON


A study by Kreuzer and coworkers recently reported no association between cumulative exposure to radiation and death from cardiovascular disease in a cohort of German uranium miners.

This study reports on the relationship between cumulative exposure to radon progeny and coronary heart disease among Newfoundland fluorspar miners.

Previous analyses in this cohort showed elevated death rates from coronary heart disease among those with higher cumulative radon exposure. However, this finding was based on a relatively small number of deaths and therefore was not found to be statistically significant.

To investigate this further, the Newfoundland cohort of fluorspar miners was extended by 10 years until the end of 2001. Among the 2,070 miners in this study, 267 died from coronary heart disease. There was no trend between cumulative exposure to radon and the relative risk of death from coronary heart disease (P = 0.63). This finding was unchanged after adjusting for lifetime smoking status, available for approximately 54% of the cohort. Similarly, the cumulative radon exposure was found to be unrelated to deaths resulting from deaths of the circulatory system disease, acute myocardial infarction, and cerebrovascular disease.

These findings are consistent with those recently reported by Kreuzer and colleagues. We share their view that uncontrolled confounding for other coronary heart disease risk factors hinders the interpretation of the risk estimates.

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