Linhares, L., Garcia, P. & Rodrigues, A. (2017) Radon exposure and human health: what happens in volcanic environments? Radon (ed. by F. Adrovic), InTech. DOI:10.5772/intechopen.71073. ISBN 978-953-51-5482-2.
Volcanic activity can cause hazardous effects to the environment and the health of the exposed persons such as an increased risk for the development of several cancers. In geothermal areas, volcanic gases such as radon are continuously vented from the main crater, from fumarolic fields or diffused through soil. The continued long-term exposure to radon can enhance the risk of lung cancer being considered the leading cause of lung cancer following tobacco smoking. The chronic exposure to volcanogenic radon requires the development of biomonitoring methods that will assist in the evaluation of the effects of exposure to this genotoxic element. The Human Biomonitoring with the use of exfoliated buccal cells is minimally invasive, and the endpoints of the buccal micronucleus cytome (BMCyt) assay are the biomarkers of effect most recently used to measure genetic damage for the exposure to genotoxic and cytotoxic xenobiotics. The BMCyt assay has been used in a number of occupational studies, and positive results were detected as a consequence of exposure to pesticides, metals, and industrial chemicals that are suspected to cause cancer. Regarding the chronic exposure to volcanic environments, many studies revealed a rise in the numbers of MN in buccal exfoliated cells, indicating an increased risk for cancer. This chapter aims to cover the main health hazards and biomonitoring methods for populations chronically exposed to volcanic environments, allowing an estimate of health risks and to implement risk management measures regarding the exposure to certain compounds.