In the case of radon exposure, the spatial distribution of deposited radioactive particles is highly inhomogeneous in the central airways. The object of this research is to investigate the consequences of this heterogeneity regarding cellular burdens in the bronchial epithelium and to study the possible biological effects at tissue level. Applying computational fluid and particle dynamics techniques, the deposition distribution of inhaled radon daughters has been determined in a bronchial airway model for 23 min of work in the New Mexico uranium mine corresponding to 0.0129 WLM exposure. A numerical epithelium model based on experimental data has been utilised in order to quantify cellular hits and doses. Finally, a carcinogenesis model considering cell death-induced cell-cycle shortening has been applied to assess the biological responses. Present computations reveal that cellular dose may reach 1.5 Gy, which is several orders of magnitude higher than tissue dose. The results are in agreement with the histological finding that the uneven deposition distribution of radon progenies may lead to inhomogeneous spatial distribution of tumours in the bronchial airways. In addition, at the macroscopic level, the relationship between cancer risk and radiation burden seems to be non-linear.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Radiological and Ultrasound Technology
- Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
- Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health