Radon survey - Evaluation of a worldwide radon protection survey by the WHO


Radon is an odourless, colourless and tasteless gas that is produced when uranium decays. It enters buildings (houses, flats, workplaces) from the ground. The decay products of radon reach the air we breathe and can be deposited in the human lungs. There they damage the DNA and can cause lung cancer. Radon exposure is one of the most important causes of lung cancer; exposure in residential buildings alone caused an estimated 84,000 deaths from lung cancer worldwide in 2019.

Project description

In order to better assess radon exposure, the WHO conducted a survey on radon in the member states in 2019 and 2020 (RADONSURVEY). The results show what progress has been made so far in the respective countries in the areas of health and radon prevention and provide an insight into the work that still needs to be done to protect the population. The last radon country study was carried out in 2006, and the new report makes it possible to trace further developments. We have analysed and visualised the responses of the Member States in order to summarise the results and support the WHO.


Almost 60 WHO member states responded to the radon questionnaire. Two thirds of them were from Europe, 15% from the Americas and the rest from the Western Pacific, Eastern Mediterranean and Africa regions. Of the 58 participating countries, 45 (78%) stated that they have national radon policies in place. 42 countries carry out national radon surveys, 70% of which are in the European region and 17% in the Americas. A national radon map exists in 33 countries (57 %). More than 90 % of respondents with a radon map are located in Europe, particularly in the European Union. Two thirds of the countries have either mandatory (24) or recommended (15) national regulations or guidelines for residential buildings. More than 70 % of countries have established a national reference level for dwellings (43) or workplaces (42). In a quarter of countries (14), radon prevention measures in new buildings are mandatory (all in Europe). A national radon risk communication strategy is in place in 18 countries (31 %), mainly in the European Union, but also in Canada, the USA, Uruguay and the Republic of Moldova. Several countries in the European Union indicated that a national communication strategy is part of the national radon action plan.

Benefits of the project

The WHO RADONSURVEY survey shows that radon protection is still being implemented at very different levels in individual countries. The WHO is therefore planning to conduct such a survey on a regular basis in order to record progress in radon protection.

Project details

Project title: Radon survey

Project acronym: Radon Survey

Project management: World Health Organisation (WHO)

Project management AGES: Dipl.-Ing. Dr Valeria Gruber and Dipl.-Ing. Dr Wolfgang Ringer MSc

Funding: FAO/WHO

Project duration: November - December 2021

Last updated: 14.11.2023

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