The town of Bad Gastein in Austria is known for its radon therapy spas in which one can undergo radon inhalation therapy and other medically dubious treatments which involve exposure to radiation.

The sources I have found online suggest that the one-week exposure at a spa might total about 4 mSv (milliSieverts; by comparison, most countries limit the exposure of workers who are occupationally exposed to radiation to a maximum of 20 mSv per year). Alarmingly, this page suggests that workers in radon spas in Bad Gastein are typically exposed to 200 mSv per year.

Is there a figure for the typical exposure of a tourist who just visits the town without undergoing radon therapy? (for example, is there significant radiation exposure from the drinking water or air?)

  • 5
    Relevant chart from XKCD: xkcd.com/radiation In particular, note that “lowest one-year dose clearly linked to increased cancer risk” is 100mSv — which may be bad long-term news for spa workers if your numbers are accurate, but leaves a visitor’s exposure very far from any danger zone.
    – PLL
    Aug 4, 2022 at 9:52
  • 1
    Are you saying that Bad Gastin has.. bad gas?
    – Martin
    Aug 4, 2022 at 11:11
  • 2
    This Question might be more appropriate on one of the sibling science-oriented Stack Exchange sites rather than Travel. Aug 4, 2022 at 19:43
  • 1
    @Martin it's pronounced Ga-Stein. Don't make fun or german names, we don't have any humor and will give you the silent treatment.
    – Erik
    Aug 5, 2022 at 8:13

2 Answers 2


Are you aware that people actually live and work there 24/7/365 and apparently don't keel over from radiation poisoning ?

From: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/248212139_Investigation_of_cancer_mortality_in_the_Gastein_Valley_an_area_of_high-level_natural_radiation

Furthermore, the number of all cancer cases, especially lung cancer, in Badgastein is lower than the expected value for the province of Salzburg, despite the annual doses being four times higher.

It seems to be fine for the locals, so I highly doubt that a stay of one week will have any meaningful impact at all.

  • 8
    I am, in fact, aware of that. And acute radiation sickness is hardly a concern at these doses. I am looking for an approximate number. Different people have different yearly exposures and someone regularly exposed to low-level radiation might not want to receive an additional dose equivalent to 800 (regular) dental X-rays (5uS each)
    – user13190
    Aug 4, 2022 at 7:18
  • Even if locals are not significantly harmed by their environment, the same may not apply to outsiders. "The water which the villagers of San Pedro de Atacama drink—they live in an isolated region of modern day Chile—contains 500 p.p.m. of arsenic. However, they show no signs of arsenic-related diseases. Newer residents to the area are much more likely to suffer from skin disease and cancers." (John Emsley, 2011, p. 55, <archive.org/details/naturesbuildingb0000emsl_b1k4/page/54/mode/…>; see also Mario Apata et al., 2017, doi:10.1002/ajpa.23193)
    – user570286
    Aug 9, 2022 at 4:27

Note This is really a comment as I have no idea about the conditions in Bad Gastein, but I am making it an answer because there is too much information to put in a comment.

From How Does Radon Get Into Your Home? you can see that Radon is a gas that can permeate from the ground into buildings

Radon is a radioactive gas. It comes from the natural decay of uranium that is found in nearly all soils. It typically moves up through the ground to the air above and into your home through cracks and other holes in the foundation. Your home traps radon inside, where it can build up.

The issue is more about radon being trapped in enclosed spaces than in the open air.

But your comment about drinking water made me go looking for information and I found:

Radon and Drinking Water from Private Wells which states that

While most radon-related deaths are due to radon gas accumulated in houses from seepage through cracks in the foundation, 30 to 1,800 deaths per year in the United States are attributed to radon from household water.

So drinking water contamination is a potential issue.

I live in an area where radon is an issue and that doing a radon test is part of the inspection when buying a house. I know it can be mitigated with various pumping and sealing techniques, but as I said at the top, I know nothing about what you will encounter in Bad Gastein

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