The tunnel where people pay to inhale radioactive gas

Tom Scott
117 000 Vaatamised 1,7 mln

In most of the world, inhaling radon for pain relief sounds like a bizarre idea. In some places, though, it's so accepted that it's prescribed by doctors and covered by health insurance. And I have no idea how to talk about it. Thanks to the team at the Radonstollen in Bad Kreuznach: you can find out more about them at

The paper I reference in the video is "Radon Exposure-Therapeutic Effect and Cancer Risk" by Maier et al, - it is, as far as I can tell, the most comprehensive analysis of all the studies so far, and I recommend reading not just the paper but also the extensive bibliography. As mentioned in the video, they claim no conflict of interest but some of the funding does ultimately come from the radon therapy industry.

There are a LOT of papers about this, and about radiation hormesis. A Google Scholar search will rapidly send you down a rabbit hole of "this seems like it works" papers, followed by "this study had a very small sample size" or "this study had flaws" meta-analysis. I am not qualified to analyse their quality and conflicts of interest, so in this case, departing from my usual policy, I'm leaving that exploration as an exercise for the reader!

Location camera: Moritz Janisch
Producer: Marcel Fenchel

Editor for Bad Kreuznach footage: Isla McTear

I'm at
on Twitter at tomscott
on Facebook at tomscott
and on Instagram as tomscottgo


  1. Tom Scott
    Tom Scott
    14 päeva tagasi

    No matter how I talk about this, someone will be angry at me: from skeptics who say that even this carefully-worded video is dangerous; to radon therapy advocates who'll be frustrated that I seem to be dismissing patients' testimonials. So to be crystal clear about my point in this video: my message is "This is a thing. It is interesting. We should study it more. If it works, it could help an enormous number of people. If it doesn't, we should probably stop doing it."

    1. #############
      12 tundi tagasi

      So what you're saying is that it's a panacea that is 100% effective in treating everything and we should all huff it and paint?

    2. Barış P.
      Barış P.
      16 tundi tagasi

      "We should study it more": We should spend our finite sources on this as opposed to something else. So what you do isn't "harmless". This was a bad move, Tom.

    3. Mechanically Electric
      Mechanically Electric
      Päev tagasi

      @Cestmir Berka haha oh wow, I didn't realize the scale at play here

    4. Cestmir Berka
      Cestmir Berka
      Päev tagasi

      @TheFeldhamster this therapy was in materialistic Czechoslovakia, now continues in Czech republic - at Jachymov spa. But there is used radon bath, not inhalation.

    5. Cestmir Berka
      Cestmir Berka
      Päev tagasi

      @Mechanically Electric how many atoms of lead is causing tumor:? :-D Yes, by this activity you count atoms, not miligrams, micrograms. Most of radon you breath in .... and breath out!

  2. TheMrarrie18
    Tund tagasi

    Ok, but why aren't these people taking pain killers regularly?

  3. CJ CJ
    CJ CJ
    3 tundi tagasi

    So it seems like these Germans are going into the tunnels to become their own grandpa?? . . . .(Dark reference)

  4. akush55
    3 tundi tagasi

    then you needed 300 more treatment over 50 yr get span

  5. cuddlefish101
    8 tundi tagasi

    you should do the salt baths in mount clemens michigan

  6. Jordan
    18 tundi tagasi

    As a German with chronic pain I've got to wonder... Can I just have a full body CT and get the same results or do I need to travel all the way to Bad Kreuznach?

    22 tundi tagasi

    we found it, the german accent to end all german accent

  8. CrazyMFz
    23 tundi tagasi

    As much as I usually enthusiastically endorse Tom Scott; I cannot in good conscious advocate this video, as self-admitted, the facts are nothing more than anecdotal. It worries me how many will look at this video as "balanced documenting" with complete ignorance to the real world outcomes...

  9. Christian L
    Christian L
    Päev tagasi

    And just another fantastic Tom Scott video to make the day. Fascinating. Cheers Tom :)

  10. 1555yodude
    Päev tagasi

    its intriguing the dosage being below other excepted limits and the effective means of control certainly make that location a prime point for further research

  11. Nick Davis
    Nick Davis
    Päev tagasi

    The issue with the experiment is that people would be paying for nothing if there is no radon coming out.

  12. Chakra Herlaut
    Chakra Herlaut
    Päev tagasi

    Well, not great, not terrible

  13. viiont eooiy
    viiont eooiy
    Päev tagasi

    "The truth... scientific, historical, or personal" I SEE WHAT YOU DID THERE :)

  14. Robert Hazelwood
    Robert Hazelwood
    Päev tagasi

    What an interesting topic and a fantastic execution for the video. I would love to see the test get funded

  15. JakW
    Päev tagasi

    why are germans so obsessed with gas?

    1. Marcel Schmutz
      Marcel Schmutz
      2 tundi tagasi


  16. Bush 9/11
    Bush 9/11
    2 päeva tagasi

    i bet those people getting radiation therapy are huge marvel and dc fans🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣

  17. LiveandLetDrive
    2 päeva tagasi

    Let's be honest, that place's claims are limited ONLY because they are restrained by law. And I'd bet "many customers have said it healed their [cancer, etc ]" is a phrase that you'd hear there if not see on paper. Also, placebo explains a lot, but let's not forget *regression to the mean*, in which people are most likely to seek care at the peak of their symptoms, and therefore likely to see a reduction shortly thereafter regardless. And issues like pain and much of what quackeries claim to cure are especially prone to this effect. Not saying this couldn't work, but nothing in this video even raises an eyebrow for me. There should be more public funds specifically to test these unlikely claims, just to save people from them.

  18. NotsoFamous
    2 päeva tagasi

    Why is your newest vid age restricted

    1. F99 Crafter
      F99 Crafter
      2 päeva tagasi

      Because fireworks are dangerous! I bet the algorithm just found a new way to be broken…

  19. Good Doggy
    Good Doggy
    2 päeva tagasi

    And yet the whole world finds Botox perfectly normal.

  20. DasPikachu
    2 päeva tagasi

    I klick on this video thinking nothing much, and where is Tom Scott at? MY FREAKING HOMETOWN! I did NOT know this existed and I am shook. 😂

  21. thekraken8him
    2 päeva tagasi

    This is how the Children of Atom from Fallout start.

  22. thekraken8him
    2 päeva tagasi

    Seems like there are so many safer and easier forms of pain relief.

  23. TheBig Mugamba
    TheBig Mugamba
    2 päeva tagasi

    If there is no safe dose of radiation, don't go outside. Actually, don't go inside either. To be honest, just cease to exist. Hormesis is more than a hypothesis, it's an observable phenomenon that is well documented with in vitro studies. The hypothesis that come from it are to what dose would still be considered safe in humans, but it is self-evident (background radiation exists and varies by location) that the "no dose is safe" model is patently false.

  24. Dumplingduppy
    2 päeva tagasi

    I will be looking out for this

  25. Jannis 11
    Jannis 11
    2 päeva tagasi


  26. Isso
    2 päeva tagasi

    What is air has radiation but its so little that it takes 80 years to kill us

  27. Niyo
    2 päeva tagasi

    If it only helps with chronic pain, isn't there a good chance that it's placebo?

  28. Niyo
    2 päeva tagasi

    If it only helps with chronic pain, isn't there a good chance that it's placebo?

    1. Fu Manchu
      Fu Manchu
      15 tundi tagasi

      Exactly that!

  29. Ted Victor
    Ted Victor
    2 päeva tagasi

    I had back lower pain and had impaired mobility and went for a experimental treatment as I was looking at being stuck in a wheelchair for the rest of my life otherwise . It worked and 10 years later I can still ride a bicycle now retired 6 years .This therapy kneads more study

  30. Timer.
    3 päeva tagasi

    I live my entire life in Bad Kreuznach and I didn't knew about this.

  31. admdub
    3 päeva tagasi

    Straight quackery

  32. Julius Maggs
    Julius Maggs
    3 päeva tagasi

    "The weak answer to every undergraduate paper" was a line I did not expect to cut as deep as it did. Ouchies.

  33. badhollywoodscience
    3 päeva tagasi


  34. Bob Kerns
    Bob Kerns
    3 päeva tagasi

    "More studies are needed" is NOT a cop-out. We need to get over this bias toward definitive results, which is really a bias toward *posirtive* results. Negative results tend to be of the sort that put bounds on the maximum effect size. Sometimes it takes a lot of studies, done a lot of different ways, to eliminate a hypothesis. For example, what if radon therapy only is effective for a subgroup of patients? What if that subgroup turns out to be really really small? But also: If you go looking at enough subgroups, you'll surely find one it works for-on paper. That's why we need intent-to-treat studies, rather than post-hoc p-hacking. But even with intent-to-treat, avoiding all post-hoc screwing around to find something publishable with our publication biases, you still need more studies to confirm any result. And let's not forget Simpson's Paradox, where small subgroups can interact with confounding variables, to produce apparent results than disappear when you look at the big picture. In a case like this, where a negative result would be unsurprising, and there's an identifiable risk, one good study may suffice for our purposes. But please don't regard "More studies are needed" as a cop-out. It's an essential part of the overall process! I always appreciate seeing that in a paper's conclusions, especially when they highlight what sort of future studies are needed, based on what they learned from the paper's study, such as problems with the methodology, the need for more statistical power to confirm or eliminate the stated hypothesis, etc.

  35. Jon Hunkin
    Jon Hunkin
    3 päeva tagasi

    “But if your house is in a particularly bad radon area, like here in Oxfordshire” Laughs in South West radon concentration levels. 😂

  36. Wade B
    Wade B
    3 päeva tagasi

    If only there were a natural plant medicine that was specifically potent at reducing inflammation

    1. Silver Lining
      Silver Lining
      2 päeva tagasi

      acetylsalicylic acid?

  37. CxHxZz
    3 päeva tagasi

    Just googled the Radon map of the UK. I live in chipping norton and work in Banbury... Both places have the Highest radon figures in Oxfordshire I'll definitely be looking into a radon detector of some sort!

  38. explorer47422
    3 päeva tagasi

    3:52 'A duty to the truth, be it scientifical, historical, personal' - I know a Picard quote when I hear it ;)

  39. Corvega Starkiller
    Corvega Starkiller
    3 päeva tagasi

    There is a safe dose of radiation. Youre being exposed to radiation every single minute of your life. It doesnt heal you though.

    1. fire surfer
      fire surfer
      3 päeva tagasi

      You are still alive though. Can you prove it's not helping?

  40. XerxesTheCommuter
    3 päeva tagasi

    Sometimes I really love German thoroughness.

  41. ThreepE0
    3 päeva tagasi

    Wait, aren't all studies that have conflicts of interest using the same ol' "they have no say (but they have they studiers over a financial barrel, or chasing after a financial carrot.)" This is what surprised me right off the bat; I'd expect Scott to show a ton more skepticism for a study under especially these circumstances. What is the supposed mechanism here for relieving pain? And how is this any different than saying "if we allow people to wear these special red shirts, they are healed of um... pain. yep." I could pay someone to create a study that I uhh.. had no say in the outcome of, and would it make it worthy of pursuit? What am I missing here Scott?

  42. Crawlz
    3 päeva tagasi

    I'd definitely try this for my chronic pain.

  43. Cirkmann Zirkel
    Cirkmann Zirkel
    3 päeva tagasi

    Just to clear that up, imho it's absolutely possible that such a therapy could relieve inflammation and subsequent pain, as aimed radiation therapy is used for chronic inflammation of various tissues. That doesn't mean this works, but it doesn't fall in the "unthinkable" category at least.

  44. Carl Ramirez
    Carl Ramirez
    3 päeva tagasi

    9:07 I really want this study to happen too

  45. DanskeCrimeRider
    3 päeva tagasi

    That's not true. We have many types of radioactive medicine that have been proven to work. Something that hasn't been proven is a correlation between radiation and cancer. Edit: 1/3 of all US patients are treated with radioisotopes and nuclear medicine.

  46. KurtSandford
    4 päeva tagasi

    Even though i believe there is only a very, very small chance this would work. Considering my position in life right now, where i am battling with chronic pain and also battling with the terrible poison medicine you have to take to function, i would do this. You would be very suprised how years of agony can make a person be willing to do.

  47. centerp1ece
    4 päeva tagasi

    putting my tin head on right now! lets goooo

  48. Echristoffe
    4 päeva tagasi

    “More studies are required “ is a scientific answer to: does it work. For the moment we don’t know and should study it. It make perfect sense. We use radiation to cure cancer. We yet don’t know everything about radiation. Yes it may be helpful for 0.00001% of the patients. But if it work for them it would be better than USA opioid pain relief system… Science is not a fixed system. Science is made by discovery and peer review. We need those blind test to make sure it work.

  49. wannabee
    4 päeva tagasi

    Eager to see what this leads to. Excellent use of your platform!

  50. claimed lizard
    claimed lizard
    4 päeva tagasi

    i could say so much about this video but...Tom is just GOAT

  51. Freddie Nerkury
    Freddie Nerkury
    4 päeva tagasi

    Radon is the number one cause of lung cancer among non-smokers apparently.

  52. Francisco Franco
    Francisco Franco
    4 päeva tagasi

    Damn…..according to EPA recommendations, exposure to radon above 3.9 picocuries per liter (pCi/L) is a biohazard for a home…..1 picocurie is equal to 37 becquerels…..this dude just said their environment is in the range of 30-60,000 becquerels. Lmfao that’s like 810-1621 pCi/L or 200-405 times the EPA recommendations….that’s sorta scary. Lmfao wow my back feels better….but now I have advanced lung cancer.

  53. MattheLord
    4 päeva tagasi

    A certain austrian painter let people inhale it for free

  54. Aidan S
    Aidan S
    4 päeva tagasi

    I agree, this seems like a great study. It would be interesting to see if results really proved it to be an effective treatment. God knows people should know if it’s truly effective (which would be a great treatment for chronic pain patients) or if their exposing themselves to a toxic gas for no reason!

  55. James_Cinnabond
    4 päeva tagasi

    As a medical physicist in-training, I too really want to see this trial happen!

  56. bowen voowy
    bowen voowy
    4 päeva tagasi

    research in chronic pain is needed across the board.

  57. Francium
    4 päeva tagasi

    We pay in my place to inhale toxic pollution too.

  58. Petar Neykov
    Petar Neykov
    4 päeva tagasi

    Literally can not tell if he's 18, 25, or 50

    1. bowen voowy
      bowen voowy
      4 päeva tagasi

      I claim that wearing your shoes on opposite feet every other Tuesday means a free trip to heaven when you die. If that works as I claim, it'd be brilliant.

  59. Paul Haynes
    Paul Haynes
    4 päeva tagasi

    Very interesting. In Hungary, doctors prescribe all sorts of odd things for pain (and general health), but I've never heard of this. I can only assume they haven't yet found s a mine high in radon gas! As for radiation - when I was having an operation for bone cancer, I had so many X-rays in the process that the surgeon 'quipped' "if you haven't got cancer already, you soon will have!".

  60. Anthony B
    Anthony B
    4 päeva tagasi

    This video has had like 3 titles

  61. SnowTiger45
    4 päeva tagasi

    These people are likely the same people that are Anti-Vaccine and won't wear masks in Public and yet they'll dive into this Radon-filled atmosphere for their "medical treatments". Psycho's !

  62. Marvin Wolf
    Marvin Wolf
    4 päeva tagasi

    germans in youtube videos always suck hard at english 😂 i‘m glad i don‘t sound like that when speaking, should have listened in english class

  63. jej3451
    4 päeva tagasi

    Who cares if it's been tested? Our governments are forcing us to take experimental vaccines. What's the problem?

  64. froggity Lumpus
    froggity Lumpus
    4 päeva tagasi

    Tom Scott, you should look into "Radithor" because people used to take radiation in liquid form for pain relief way back in the day and it had a lot of success. Problem was a lot of people started developing tumors and losing parts of their body from it. Maybe a controlled low-dose radiation is different.

  65. ez icarus
    ez icarus
    4 päeva tagasi

    Is this Furzes tunnel?

  66. The Q
    The Q
    4 päeva tagasi

    Why not do some real quantitative radon research. Go out to the western USA and find an old Uranium mine. Hook up a air distillation plant to said mine to extract and liquidly the radon gas that comes out of it and then transport it to a nearby chemical laboratory to do research on it. It would of course be absolutely miniscule quantities but imagine if you could reasonably work out radons basic chemistry! Its a noble gas sure but if it followed the trend like xenon it would have a very rich chemistry!

  67. J Bond
    J Bond
    4 päeva tagasi

    I've never heard about radiation for pain relief, but I know that the maps of background radiation and cancer prevalence in America show a strong inverse relation. The higher the background radiation, the less likely you are to get cancer. Similar findings in Europe apparently, and the town with the highest natural background radiation is in Iran at 260msv with still no sign of higher cancer risk.

  68. Tyler Kessis
    Tyler Kessis
    4 päeva tagasi

    rip dislike

  69. Jones'n FPV
    Jones'n FPV
    4 päeva tagasi

    Unbiased journalism at its finest. Fantastic Work.

  70. Danne Sundberg
    Danne Sundberg
    4 päeva tagasi

    wold love to test it. i hate my pain .

  71. jefmoesy
    4 päeva tagasi

    We need to like this!

    4 päeva tagasi

    They are treating pain caused by inflammation. Lots and lots of need for "cures."

    4 päeva tagasi

    I claim that wearing your shoes on opposite feet every other Tuesday means a free trip to heaven when you die. If that works as I claim, it'd be brilliant.

  74. KitMellow
    4 päeva tagasi

    Have they tested this on lab rats?

  75. Scott deMoor
    Scott deMoor
    4 päeva tagasi

    it would be cool to see how tumors/cancers react to this kind of treatment. they could use a computer to administer the test one person at a time for say 100 people. then wait the 8-10 weeks, have them do a survey. then have the computer regurgitate the results of who did and who didn’t get the gas. you could also have air pump in rather then gas to help sell the illusion when not giving the person gas.

  76. Lindeman08
    4 päeva tagasi

    I know of something else that people can inhale to experience relief from chronic pain. Funny expression that; chronic.

  77. Twitch_StarLord_
    4 päeva tagasi

    I think its very clear from Toms Pinned message itself. "To prove or disprove, needs more testing. Either is better than not testing at all so here's more awareness, hopefully someone related to this with the means, does something soon so we can stop being confused!" ~♕Randm Starry☆

  78. M. McD.
    M. McD.
    4 päeva tagasi

    Tom I think your approach should be required study for journalism students… good job.

  79. Federico Marín
    Federico Marín
    4 päeva tagasi

    I always wanted someone to explain how can placebo effect work on a 2yo child who doesn't have any idea he's beign given a medicine at all

    1. Thingonometry -
      Thingonometry -
      4 päeva tagasi

      The child doesn’t need an understanding of medicine, only that his parents and the doctor are associated wih safety - same with pets, their owners and vets

  80. Jono's Pursuit of the Wild
    Jono's Pursuit of the Wild
    4 päeva tagasi

    Never heard of this before! But near where I live we have a flaming tar barrel tradition for bonfire night, it's equally as insane!

  81. Odima16
    4 päeva tagasi

    It's rare to see EEpulse videos with nuance. I appreciate it every time. Thank you :)

  82. Alpha_Kralle
    4 päeva tagasi

    Uhh, the last time Germans filled up a room with gas and said it wouldn't harm you, they pretended it to be "just a shower". This time it's to help chronic pain.... stay skeptical!

  83. David Atwell
    David Atwell
    4 päeva tagasi

    3:49 - are you suggesting that, otherwise, you wouldn't deserve to wear that uniform?

  84. Mxyzptlksac
    4 päeva tagasi

    As to people complaining about this topic- Tom out multiple disclaimers and I remember a quote from the musical 1776 from Stephen Hopkins, “all my years I ain't never heard, seen nor smelled an issue that was so dangerous it couldn't be talked about.”

  85. Courtnie 97
    Courtnie 97
    4 päeva tagasi

    "So what did you do on your weekend?" "Oh, I had a migraine so i went down to the basement and huffed some radon to clear it up"

  86. Seedr0
    4 päeva tagasi

    As a terribly amateur physicist I hang my career on it 100% absolutely working at least SOME of the time for some people, although the side effects might make it not worthwhile, as a last resort for elderly it is mostly worthwhile. The only drawback besides the obvious radiation effects would be that some new health technology based on having as intact and undamaged DNA as possible comes out. Although, that, I currently do not know exists and may not within many would-be-patients lifetimes.

  87. Gavin Thomas
    Gavin Thomas
    5 päeva tagasi

    Another intriguing and thought provoking video. I really appreciate the time and consideration you put into your work. Thank you.

  88. idzisunder
    5 päeva tagasi

    Um you ever seen how they get rid of cancer 😂😂👎🏻

  89. nope nope
    nope nope
    5 päeva tagasi

    Skeptical anytime a German says "this room we pump gas into is completely safe".

  90. pingu ossas
    pingu ossas
    5 päeva tagasi

    I wouldn't trust that much a german guy to get you to a closeF room and let him put in a gas that's radioactive since last time i heard of such thing the results weren't great...

  91. Xarro_44
    5 päeva tagasi

    A tunnel in germany that relieves pain with gas... i have seen this somewhere else...

  92. Scratch
    5 päeva tagasi

    scientists still baffled about why Germany thought they would find Mercury underground, it's up there in space dimwits 🤣🤣🤣🤣

  93. BradyPostma
    5 päeva tagasi

    I don't know why, but after watching the prior dozen Tom Scott videos on opening day something about this video made me extra reluctant for over a week. Anti-clickbait?

  94. ThePwnageHobo
    5 päeva tagasi

    3:49 good job sneaking that Star Trek TNG reference in. I wonder how many others caught it

  95. Crystal Dazz
    Crystal Dazz
    5 päeva tagasi

    Just wanted to say thanks for the video!

  96. Jan Wekulu P
    Jan Wekulu P
    5 päeva tagasi

    Awaiting the day Tom elegantly describes what pissy shitties is without actually saying what it is

  97. Dudemon
    5 päeva tagasi

    If I were to strike it rich, I'd spend my riches not on hookers or cocaine, but on supporting research like this.

  98. Robert Prisock
    Robert Prisock
    5 päeva tagasi

    Radon is a alpha emitter. The least penetrating and damaging of all types of radioactivity. Did I mention that every living being on this planet get exposed rather they "tunnel" or not. But look at the bright side thats where helium comes from. (Alpha radiation).

  99. Skye Aten
    Skye Aten
    5 päeva tagasi

    We know it works, because we can prove placebo works.