Chest X-ray screening examinations among French uranium miners: exposure estimation and impact on radon-associated lung cancer risk
Background Medical surveillance of uranium miners can include periodic chest X-ray examinations. This study aimed to assess the X-ray exposure due to occupational health monitoring in the French cohort of uranium miners, and to test whether consideration of this additional radiation exposure impacts the excess risk of lung cancer death associated with radon exposure.
Method X-ray exposure due to occupational health monitoring was estimated retrospectively based on review of a sample of miners’ medical records and bibliographic data. Four exposure scenarios were designed, differing in their assumptions about the type of procedures performed, their frequency, and the lung dose delivered. Radon exposure and lung doses from exposure to α-particle emitters and external γ rays have previously been individually assessed. Exposure-risk and dose-risk relations were estimated by Poisson regression with a linear excess relative risk (ERR) model.
Results The cohort included 5086 miners with a mean follow-up duration of 30.1 years. The mean number of chest X-ray examinations ranged from 15.1 in the lowest to 34 in the highest-exposure scenario, and produced a mean cumulative lung dose ranging from 4.6 to 34.2 mGy. The role of occupation-related imaging screening X-ray procedures in total equivalent lung dose appeared insignificant compared to α-emitter exposure. X-ray exposure was not associated with lung cancer mortality risk. The ERR associated with radon remained significantly positive when X-ray exposure was included in the multivariate analysis.
Conclusions X-ray exposure did not confound the exposure-risk relation between radon and lung cancer.