During 'normal' operations, nuclear power plants release radioactive poisons into our air and water – poisons that are known to cause genetic mutations, birth defects and cancer, especially in children. This is not medical-grade radiation, but some of the most toxic poisons known to man, poisons that build up in our gene pool and our food chain.
Nuclear power plant fission creates about 200 man-made radionuclide isotopes that do not exist in nature. Living organisms try to make sense of them, so they identify them as the elements they most closely resemble and absorb them as those analogs. In other words, human bodies do not know what to do with these poisons, so our bodies treat them as whatever they most closely resemble in nature. For example, a potassium analog (such as Cesium-137, which remains toxic for about 300 years) is absorbed by the body as potassium, entering muscles and organs as a potassium mimic.
Nuclear power creates a very long term problem for an extremely short term (as well as unnecessary, dirty, and expensive) energy choice. Uranium is enriched by fission in power plant reactors and becomes thousands of times more toxic. These reactors only use 1% of the radioactive energy produced and leave 99% as radioactive waste – toxic trash with no garbageman, trash we are leaving for future generations. For example, the radioactive isotope tritium, which is released into our rivers during 'routine' power plant operations, remains dangerous for 124 years, which means this one poison routinely released from nuclear power plants will enter the food chain, accumulate and remain radioactive during the life of your grandchild's grandchild's child before that isotope becomes safe in our soil, air or water.
The period of toxicity of these nuclear power emission isotopes varies – some burn out very quickly, but others remain radioactive for millions of years. After 70 years of intensive research, no means of neutralizing or safely storing these poisons has been discovered. No trashman cometh.
BEST/MATRR calls on the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) to create new safety standards and to actually enforce them, as well as the existing standards. We think the safest new procedures the NRC can provide to protect citizens are as follows:
1.) require that the public be alerted to each release of air and/or water emissions via news reports (like pollen alerts) and via visually identifiable emissions dye-markers (like natural gas and propane odor markers),
2.) stop making more radioactive poisons in nuclear power plants, which means the NRC would stop providing nuclear contractors new and renewed nuclear power plant licenses (like Germany has done), and
3.) store the existing radioactive trash (over 7 million pounds in the Tennessee Valley alone) in hardened on-site dry-cask storage (HOSS) facilities. HOSS will secure them for another 60 to 100 years while we hopefully finally develop a safer long-range storage method.
Nuclear power plants produce three forms of known radiation:
GAMMA radiation is similar to X-rays in that it passes straight through the human body, and Gamma radiation can mutate regulatory or reproductive genes.
ALPHA radiation is not considered dangerous by the nuclear industry, because it does not travel far nor penetrate human skin. However, Alpha radiation can be ingested or inhaled and is extremely mutagenic.
BETA radiation is light and can travel farther distances. Beta radiation is also very mutagenic and carcinogenic.
Radiation poisoning is invisible and insidious. We think all radioactive emissions should be reported to the public as airborne health hazards (like pollen reports), and that these toxic emissions should be required to have bright distinctive dye markers - so that we can see where they fall on our cars, lawns, homes, pets and children, as well as in our water. It would be no different than requirements for odor markers for natural gas and propane, and could save the lives of our children – especially in the event of a nuclear accident.
These various radioactive poisons become incorporated into specific human organs depending on the natural elements they resemble. Some people appear more resistant than others, but radiation poisoning is cumulative and the research shows that children are extremely vulnerable.
IODINE-131 is a very volatile radioactive isotope with a half-life of 8 days, which according to one expert means it remains radioactive for about 23 weeks while others say about 80 days. It is a beta and a high-energy gamma emitter, and as such is very carcinogenic. It enters the blood stream through the alveoli in the lungs or can be ingested by eating contaminated foods or milk. It is avidly absorbed by the thyroid gland at the base of the neck, and children are at very high risk of exposure. Potassium iodide cannot prevent this absorption, but it can slow it. Potassium iodide pills are formulated to protect the thyroid of people exposed to a radioactive plume, but should NOT be taken unless directly exposed to radiation.
CESIUM-137 is a potassium analog, that mimics potassium in every cell of the human body. It deposits in human muscles where it irradiates muscle cells and nearby organs. According to the founder of Physicians for Social Responsibility, a leading expert in the field of radiation poisoning, "It is a dangerous beta and high-energy gamma emitter and is very carcinogenic." (Dr. Helen Caldicott, Nuclear Power Is Not the Answer, The New Press, New York, 2006, p. 64.)
STRONTIUM is a calcium analog (which means the body mis-identifies it as calcium and absorbs it as such). Strontium-90 is a beta and gamma emitter with a half-life of 28 years, which means it is radioactively dangerous for about 300 years. Strontium-90 released from nuclear power plants lands on the soil and is taken up by grass and concentrated in cows and goats milk and in the breasts of lactating women. Caution should be taken to protect babies from drinking this milk, as it can induce bone cancer and leukemia in the child's body years later.
TRITIUM is a radioactive form of hydrogen (H30) and a gas produced in reactors as a waste product. It readily combines with water, and if ingested, Tritium is extremely dangerous – since it behaves like water passing throughout the body and is incorporated in organic molecules capable of irradiating large numbers of cells. Tritium is a beta emitter and has a half-life of 12.5 years, remaining dangerous for about 125 years. There are three potential health effects from the ingestion of Tritium: cancer; genetic mutations; and damage to fetuses since it crosses the placenta.
PLUTONIUM, named after the Greek god of hell, was declared by its discover, Glen Seaborg (1951 Nobel Prize in Chemistry), to be the most dangerous substance on earth. It is extremely toxic and carcinogenic if inhaled – even a tiny amount will cause lung cancer and the isotope moves from the lungs through the blood to other organs. It is not as dangerous if ingested or skin exposed, but if inhaled, plutonium translocates via white blood cells to the lymph glands and can mutate regulatory genes in white blood cells of lymphocytes causing lymphoma or leukemia. It resembles iron, combines with transferrin and moves into the bone marrow and hemoglobin molecules in red blood cells. It irradiates bone cells causing bone cancer and white blood cells in bone marrow causing leukemia. It is stored in the liver, causing liver cancer, and crosses the placenta into a developing embryo. Plutonium is also stored in the testicles, adjacent to spermatocytes, causing mutations in reproductive genes, increasing genetic diseases in future generations, and causing testicular cancer in men.
Dr. Helen Caldicott, founder of Physicians for Social Responsibilty, informs us that every male in the Northern Hemisphere has a tiny amount of plutonium in his testicles from radioactive fallout that is still falling on the earth from the upper atmosphere, which was polluted by the atmospheric weapons tests conducted by the United States, the Soviet Union, China, France, and Britain in the 1950s and 1960s.
In the interview "Fukushima and the Dangers of Nuclear Power" (see Disasters page, right column), Dr Caldicott says that Japanese doctors will begin seeing lung cancer and leukemia in 2 to 5 years, and solid cancers in 15 to 17 years, but that the contamination of the food chain will last for hundreds of thousands of years.
"Radiation from nuclear reactor emissions is most toxic to the fetus and infant," said Janette Sherman, MD, practicing toxicologist and research associate with the Radiation and Public Health Project. (See additional studies below.)
Mothers Against Tennessee River Radiation asks, "How can any financial or career gain justify causing the suffering of cancer in children?" We see TVA's nuclear power choice as an unjustifiable risk to our people, both humanly and economically, and hope to provide TVA ratepayers an opportunity to study the risks and the options, and to make their voices heard.
Women & Children First
Six weeks after the release of radiation from the Fukushima explosions, the Japanese government raised the level of ''acceptable'' radiation exposure from 1 to 20 mSv per year. Fortunately, they restored the earlier standards in December, but convenient exemptions to standards permeates our own Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC). The following Goddard Journal graph clearly illustrates the danger of the 20 mSv level of radiation exposure to the people of Japan, especially women and children. The graph plots the data of the National Academy of Sciences Biological Effects of Ionizing Radiation BEIR VII Phase 2 report, "Health Risks from Exposure to Low Levels of Ionizing Radiation" (pg. 311), where the Table is for a single dose of 0.1 Gy, which is equal to 100 mSv, and Goddard follows the BEIR report instructions to adjust the numbers for 100 mSv down to 20 mSv. Radiation exposure is cumulative and ionizing radiation is released routinely by nuclear power plants.
One in three Americans lives within 50 miles of a nuclear power plant, and these plants are at risk from earthquakes, floods, tornadoes, or terrorism. What the scientific community is finally acknowledging are the risks to human health of low-level exposures to routine radiation releases from civilian nuclear power plants. As you will see, childhood leukemia rates double for those who have been living within 5 km of a nuclear plant, and tens of thousands of U.S. nuclear workers are dead or dying from radiation exposures.
Tens of thousands of U.S. workers
for the Department of Energy
have been granted workers compensation
for illness and death from radiation exposures.
See current Department of Labor radiation compensations:
See videos of those already dead and those dying @ http://www.wildclearing.com/ice-ages/the-exposed.html
A special lady tells her story @ http://www.wildclearing.com/ice-ages/pike-vina.html
Mike Drivers story @ http://www.wildclearing.com/ice-ages/paducah-driver.html
"To have paid out over $7.2 billion in claims,
with a cap of $150,000 per claim,
for radiation-induced deaths or illnesses
over just the last decade is staggering."
– David Lochbaum, Director of Nuclear Safety,
Union of Concerned Scientists
Understanding Health Effects of Radiation
|Health Effect||Time to Onset|
|5-10||changes in blood chemistry|
|75||hair loss||2-3 weeks|
|400||possible death||within 2 months|
|1,000||destruction of intestinal lining|
|and death||1-2 weeks|
|2,000||damage to central nervous system|
|loss of consciousness;||minutes|
|and death||hours to days|
EPA Understanding Health Effects of Radiation
CANCER IN CHILDREN
French study finds childhood leukemia doubled around nuclear plants
January 12, 2012
A major epidemiological study just published in the January 2012 edition of The International Journal of Cancer indicates there is “a possible excess risk” of acute leukemia among children living in close vicinity to French nuclear power plants (NPP). The study called for an “investigation for potential risk factors related to the vicinity of NPP, and collaborative analysis of multisite studies conducted in various countries.”
The study found a doubling of occurrence of childhood leukemia between the years of 2002-2007 among children under 5 years living within 5 km of nuclear plants – similar to the findings of the German 2008 study by the Cancer Registry in Mainz which found an association between the nearness of residence to nuclear power plants and the risk of childhood leukemia.
The epidemiological study was conducted by a team from the Institut National de la Santé et de la Recherche Médicale, the Institut de Radioprotection et de Sûreté Nucléaire (IRSN) and the National Register of hematological diseases of children in Villejuif. The results marked a surprising and encouraging change at IRSN which had endeavored to discredit earlier French epidemiological studies that had shown an impact of nuclear facilities on health.
Children living near nuclear plants face an
increased risk of cancer
Global Research, April 24, 2008 New Scientist
AMONG the many environmental concerns surrounding nuclear power plants, there is one that provokes public anxiety like no other: the fear that children living near nuclear facilities face an increased risk of cancer. Though a link has long been suspected, it has never been proven. Now that seems likely to change.
Studies in the 1980s revealed increased incidences of childhood leukaemia near nuclear installations at Windscale (now Sellafield), Burghfield and Dounreay in the UK. Later studies near German nuclear facilities found a similar effect. The official response was that the radiation doses from the nearby plants were too low to explain the increased leukemia.
There the issue rested, until a recent flurry of epidemiological studies appeared. Last year, researchers at the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston carried out a meta-analysis of 17 research papers covering 136 nuclear sites in the UK, Canada, France, the US, Germany, Japan and Spain. The incidence of leukaemia in children under 9 living close to the sites showed an increase of 14 to 21 percent, while death rates from the disease were raised by 5 to 24 percent, depending on their proximity to the nuclear facilities (European Journal of Cancer Care, vol 16, p 355).
This was followed by. . . [the] KiKK studies (a German acronym for Childhood Cancer in the Vicinity of Nuclear Power Plants), whose results were published this year in the International Journal of Cancer (vole 122, p 721) and the European Journal of Cancer (vole 44, p 275). These found higher incidences of cancers and a stronger association with nuclear installations than all previous reports. The main findings were a 60 per cent increase in solid cancers and a 117 per cent increase in leukaemia among young children living near all 16 large German nuclear facilities between 1980 and 2003. The most striking finding was that those who developed cancer lived closer to nuclear power plants than randomly selected controls. Children living within 5 kilometres of the plants were more than twice as likely to contract cancer as those living further away, a finding that has been accepted by the German government. . . .
If radiation is indeed the cause of the cancers, how might local residents have been exposed? Most of the reactors in the KiKK study were pressurised water designs notable for their high emissions of tritium, the radioactive isotope of hydrogen. Last year, the UK government published a report on tritium which concluded that its hazard risk should be doubled. Tritium is most commonly found incorporated into water molecules, a factor not fully taken into account in the report, so this could make it even more hazardous.
As we begin to pin down the likely causes, the new evidence of an association between increased cancers and proximity to nuclear facilities raises difficult questions. Should pregnant women and young children be advised to move away from them? Should local residents eat vegetables from their gardens? And, crucially, shouldn’t those governments around the world who are planning to build more reactors think again?
– Dr Ian Fairlie is an independent consultant on radioactivity in the environment. Between 2000 and 2004 he was Scientific Secretary to the government’s Committee Examining Radiation Risks of Internal Emitters (CERRIE).
WHAT IS TRITIUM (H₃)?
The radioactive form of hydrogen, tritium (H3), is a gas produced in reactors as a waste product. While some occurs naturally, above ground nuclear testing increased background levels of tritium by 5 times. Nuclear installations are by far the greatest source of tritium in the environment. A reactor the size of Byron [about 1200 MW, equivalent to each of the proposed Bellefonte reactors] produces about 2 grams per year or 20,000 curies of tritium. Surface water contains from 10 to 30 picocuries [one pico = 0.000000000001] per liter and the EPA allows 20,000 picocuries per liter in your drinking water. [This means the on-site tritium waste production each year of operation per reactor will be 5,000 times greater than the allowable dose in drinking water.] Tritium contaminates water for at least 120 years.
If ingested, tritium is extremely dangerous as it is ionizing radiation and behaves like regular water. It disperses throughout the body in two hours. During its time in the body, small amounts become incorporated into organic molecules where a large number of cells can be irradiated. Tritium is a beta emitter and has a half-life of 12.5 years [which means it remains dangerous for 125 years]. There are three potential health effects from the ingestion of tritium: cancer; genetic effects; and damage to fetuses as it crosses the placenta.
— Source: Nuclear Wastelands, Makhijani, et al, Eds., MIT Press, 2000, p. 97
The author has also provided links to Tritium releases information on the IEER site.
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission FAQs on Tritium says, "Nuclear power plants release varying amounts of tritium, depending on the amount of liquid waste discharged via normal and abnormal release and the type of reactor. In the United States, there are two basic types of operating reactors, a pressurized water reactor (PWR) and a boiling water reactor (BWR). PWRs typically have higher tritium releases than BWRs. In 2003, the average PWR released about 700 curies of tritium in liquid effluents and the average BWR released about 30 curies of tritium in liquid effluents." Remember the EPA allows only 20,000 picocuries in drinking water and that one picocurie equals 0.000000000001 curie; whereas these power plants are releasing 27-725 CURIES annually per reactor.
In 2005, U.S. Rep. Ed Markey
admonished the Nuclear Regulatory Commission:
"The nuclear industry and the NRC
dismissed all studies
that link increased cancer risk
to exposure to low levels of radiation.
The NRC needs to study
- not summarily dismiss -
the connection between
serious health risks and radiation
released from nuclear reactors."
U.S. Congressman Ed Markey
Duluth News Tribune, Monday, Jan. 11, 2010
NIRS has compiled the abstracts for 16 scientific papers on tritium which can be downloaded in their radiation section.
Although the government is apparently committed to building new nuclear reactors, a recent powerful study has indicated a serious health problem, in fact a possible show-stopper, over its nuclear proposals.
In 2008, a major 4-year health study found large increases in infant cancers near all German nuclear power stations. The study had been confidently commissioned to show no such health problems, instead it revealed the opposite. The study (called KiKK, the German acronym for child leukaemias near nuclear reactors – Kinderkrebs in der Umgebung von
KernKraftwerken) reported a 2.2-fold increase in leukaemia risks and a 1.6-fold increase in embryonal cancer risks among children under five living within five km of all German nuclear power stations. KiKK found the cancer increases were firmly linked to proximity to nuclear power plants. Its report sparked off a major furore in Germany, but the study has been little reported on here. KiKK is significant for the UK because the radionuclide emissions from UK reactors (both existing and proposed) are practically the same as
those from German reactors. [and U.S. reactors]
Scientifically speaking, the KiKK study commands attention for a number of reasons. First is its large size and case-control format: it examined all cancers at all 16 nuclear reactor locations in Germany between 1980 and 2003, including 1,592 under-fives with cancer and
4,735 controls, with 593 under-fives with leukaemia and 1,766 controls. This means the study is very strong and its findings statistically significant: small numbers and weak statistical significance often limit the usefulness of smaller epidemiological studies, for example those recently commissioned by the UK government.
Second is its authority: it was commissioned in 2003 by the German Government’s Bundesamt für Strahlenschutz (Federal Office for Radiation Protection) after requests by German citizen groups. The study was carried out by epidemiology teams from the University of Mainz who, ironically, were in favour of nuclear power.
Third is the validity of its results. These were confirmed by the German government’s nuclear regulator, Bundesamt für Strahlenshutz. A later report by Germany’s more senior radiation health commission (Strahlenshutzkommission) stated the cancer increases existed but the reasons remained unknown. It is now officially accepted in Germany that children living near nuclear power plants develop cancer and leukaemia more frequently than those
living further away.
The findings were a shock for the German nuclear industry. KiKK’s findings are partly the reason why Germany is not building new reactors, with the result that German nuclear operators (E.ON and RWE) are now proposing them, not in Germany, but in the UK
instead – and with our government’s strong encouragement. Shouldn’t we be more concerned about this?
We are unsure of the reasons or mechanisms for the cancer increases near nuclear power plants, and government sponsored studies in several European countries are searching for an explanation. Here in the UK, at least three studies are underway, but their results are not expected until the spring of 2010 at the earliest.
Some independent scientists think that high radiation doses to the embryos and foetuses of pregnant women near the reactors may have caused the increased cancers among their subsequent babies. This is because embryos and foetuses are extremely radiosensitive – sufficiently so to be damaged by the relatively small radiation doses from the radioactive
discharges at nuclear power stations. But whatever the reason, the new evidence shows that living near nuclear reactors carries serious health risks for babies and infants – more than doubling their risk of leukaemia. If the nuclear industry and the government ignore this evidence, they could find themselves being sued by parents of leukaemic children.
In the UK, the Chairman of the government’s Committee on the Medical Aspects of Radiation in the Environment (COMARE) initially denied the KiKK findings, stating in a letter to nuclear site stakeholder groups that recent UK and French studies did not
support the KiKK results. However this letter was officially withdrawn following criticisms and at present COMARE has no policy on the KiKK report. For almost two years, COMARE
largely ignored the KiKK findings, but finally in October 2009, the Department of Health instructed COMARE to look into the KiKK study. Reluctantly, COMARE set up a subcommittee to do this: its report is not expected until April 2010.
The above criticisms stated that the UK and French studies had incorrectly concluded there was ‘no evidence’ of increased cancers, but the correct UK conclusion should have been they found an increase of 24%, which was not statistically significant at the 5% level, (contrary to what many people think, lack of statistical significance does NOT mean lack of association, merely that the study was too small for statistically-significant results). Leukaemia is a rare disease and you need large studies to pick up increases – hence the importance of the large KiKK study which did pick them up. Equally important, KiKK is a case-control study – far more dependable than simple observed/expected ratios used in the UK and French studies. The point here is that COMARE should have been guided by the large KiKK study with a dependable format and not the small unreliable French and UK ones. In fact, some scientists suspect the French and UK studies were rushed out in 2008 in panic attempts to deflect and discredit the KiKK report.
Any other evidence?
Have the German findings been supported by other studies? In one word, yes. In 2008, French scientists carried out a literature review of 26 multi-site studies of childhood cancer near nuclear facilities throughout the world. This followed an earlier study in 1999 which listed another 50 studies (36 single-site and 14 multisite). In other words, over 60 studies have examined this matter and over 70% of them revealed pronounced cancer increases. I can think of no other instance – with chemical or biological toxins for example – where such a large number of studies have investigated a specific health effect near establishments emitting a specific hazard – in this case radionuclides.
In addition, researchers in South Carolina in 2007 carried out a large meta-analysis (ie a combined study which improves statistical strength) of 136 nuclear sites in the UK, Canada, France, US, Germany, Japan and Spain. The study strongly supported the KiKK results, finding increased incidences of child leukaemia and raised child cancer death rates, depending on the proximity to nuclear facilities.
Most independent scientists consider the above to be convincing, if not overwhelming, evidence of an association between nuclear power plants and infant cancers, but unfortunately many nuclear scientists remain in denial and disagree with this conclusion.
As stated above, many scientists are continuing to discuss the likely causes of the KiKK cancer increases, and here in the UK there are at least three on-going studies into cancers near UK nuclear facilities. Unfortunately, the government, which is strongly committed to building more nuclear power stations, is doing everything it can to ignore or deny these findings and new studies. For example, in November 2009, it initiated a Consultation on its
proposals to ‘justify’ radiation exposures from proposed new nuclear power stations, (justification requires those who propose nuclear power stations to balance their radiation health risks versus their putative economic benefits. It is a legal obligation forced on
the government, much against its wishes, under a little-known EU Directive). Clearly, evidence of infant cancers near UK nuclear power stations is extremely relevant in any ‘justification’. But the closing date for comments on this Consultation is 22 February 2010, well before the results of the above three studies will be available. And the government has point blank refused official requests by NGOs to extend the comments deadline.
As scientists discuss the likely reasons, this new powerful KiKK evidence of a direct link between child cancer and proximity to nuclear facilities raises difficult questions. Should pregnant women and women with young babies be advised to move away from existing nuclear power stations? Should local residents be advised not to eat fruit or vegetables from their gardens? But most important, shouldn’t the UK government be rethinking its nuclear
– Dr Ian Fairlie is an independent consultant on radioactivity in the environment. Between 2000 and 2004 he was Scientific Secretary to the government’s Committee Examining Radiation Risks of Internal Emitters (CERRIE).
January 2010. Many thanks to Ex-Services CND for funding the printing of this report.
Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament • Mordechai Vanunu House
162 Holloway Rd • London N7 8DQ • 020 7700 2393 • www.cnduk.org
Study Links Nuclear to Cancer in Children
Background information on the 2007 KiKK study
from the German Federal Office for Radiation Protection (BfS)
Why carry out a new study?
The discussion about increased cancer rates in the vicinity of nuclear power plants has continued since the use of nuclear energy has been considered to be a problematic issue. For instance, in 1987 and 1989 British studies reported a statistically significant increase of childhood leukaemia within a radius of 10 miles around nuclear facilities in England and Wales. In 1992, an analogously performed ecological study of the German Childhood Cancer Registry (GCCR) for the period from 1980 to 1990 observed a statistically significant increased incidence rate for leukaemias among children below five years of age within the 5-km-zone around the sites.
Since these results were discussed very controversially and since at the same time a statistically significant increase in leukaemias occurred in the vicinity of the Krümmel nuclear power plant, a second ecological study was published in 1997. This study was again carried out by the GCCR, and it included data for the subsequent period of five years, i. e. from 1991 – 1995.
The discussion about a possible link between the occurrence of cancer in children and their residence in the vicinity of nuclear facilities in normal operation did not stop after the second study had been published. Moreover, the data of the GCCR were exploratively evaluated by other working groups.
The results of the GCCR studies and their re-evaluation by third parties were debated in the public and in the media. The question was if these results were chance findings or if their interpretation was governed by political motivation.
In 2001, upon invitation of the President of the Federal Office for Radiation Protection, Wolfram König, a „Round Table“ with various groups took place in Kassel. Here BfS decided to commission a study on the basis of these findings, although the study was to be methodically more ambitious. In order to gain more reliable results a so-called case-control-study was developed. This so-called KiKK-study (Kinderkrebs in der Umgebung von Kernkraftwerken – Childhood Cancer in the Vicinity of Nuclear Power Plants) started in 2003. The study design was developed by a multidisciplinary panel of experts consisting of 12 members. BfS acted on that suggestion and, following an invitation to tender, charged the German Childhood Cancer Registry (GCCR) in Mainz with the implementation of this study. After four years of research and altogether five meetings of the panel of experts, the GCCR submitted the final report in November 2007. At the same time, two scientific publications concerning the study will be published in mid-December.
The result now published in the study of the German Childhood Cancer Registry (GCCR) in Mainz gives clear evidence that the risk of leukaemia for children under the age of 5 increases with decreasing distance of their home to a nuclear power plant site.
The study is thus the third one in a series of corresponding investigations of the German Childhood Cancer Registry. However, with regard to its strength of evidence it significantly stands out from the two preceding ecological studies which were frequently referred to as the so-called “Michaelis”-studies , in the general public. For the first time not incidence rates in certain regions were compared, but exact data on the distance of the home from a reactor could be taken into account in a so-called case-control study – in fact for both children with cancer and children without cancer. This is the major advantage compared to previous studies.
The two aforementioned ecological studies carried out by the German Childhood Cancer Registry showed an increased occurrence of leukaemias in children under five years living within a radius of 5 km around reactor sites. Evaluation of data on cancer incidences in children in Bavaria showed an increased incidence rate of childhood cancer in the districts neighbouring one of five nuclear power plant sites and in the district neighbouring in the east.
How was the study carried out?
In the preceding ecological studies the incidence rates in defined areas (within a radius of 5 km to 10 km, and to 15 km around a nuclear power plant) were compared with the incidence rates in defined control areas.
Due to the case-control approach chosen for this study individual homes could be taken into account, in fact for both children with cancer and children without cancer taken from random sample via registration offices. These so-called controls were randomly selected from larger controls and were matched by age and gender.
In detail, those children were considered in the study whose cancer was reported to the German Childhood Cancer Registry and who lived in defined areas around 16 sites of German nuclear power plants. The children had to be under five years of age at the time of diagnosis. There are 1,592 cases of children with cancer. For each individual case, controls were determined as described above from the same area. Thus, 4,735 controls were chosen. The vicinity of the home to the respective nuclear power plant site could be exactly determined for all 6,327 children up to 25 metres on average. As a result, it could be tested if the children with cancer on average lived in a closer vicinity to the nuclear power plant site than their respective controls did.
The objective of the study was to answer three questions:
• Does cancer occur more frequently in children under five years of age living in the vicinity of nuclear power plant sites?
• Is there a negative trend, i. e. does the risk increase with decreasing distance to the nuclear power plant site?
• Are there confounding factors that could explain the gained result?
To answer the questions the study was divided into two parts:
• Part 1: Case-control-study without interview
• Part 2: For a sub-group of Part 1 a case-control study with interview in order to be able to take into account possible confounders which might explain the results gained in part 1.
What this case-control study cannot answer, is what causes cancer.
The KiKK-study covers the period from 1980 to 2003, divided into two study periods: the first 11 years of operation of a power reactor and the remaining years. This was necessary since one result of the so-called Michaelis-studies was that the risk was higher in the first study than it was in the second one. Accordingly, one question in the KiKK-study was if there was a difference in the distance trend possibly to be found between the early and late period of operation. The study comprises the environment of the 16 German nuclear power plant sites. The distance of the home to the nearest nuclear power plant site on the day of diagnosis (for cases), or, respectively, to the analogue reference day (for controls) was determined as measure of the distance.
Radiation exposure could not be taken into consideration since no measured results are available nor is a modelling of radiation exposure reasonably possible. The distance between home and reactor was taken as an alternative to radiation exposure.
Which findings were obtained?
Study population: 1,592 cases and 4,735 controls
Overall, the study confirmed the correlation between the vicinity of the home at the day of diagnosis and the risk to contract cancer or leukaemia before the 5th birthday. However, the study cannot produce evidence, as to which risk factors cause this relationship.
The distance of the home to the nearest nuclear power plant site was determined within an accuracy of 25 m on average.
• It was found that all types of cancer as well as leukaemia occurred significantly more frequently in the vicinity of nuclear power plants (within a radius of 5 km) than in further distant areas. The findings for all tumours can be essentially attributed to the findings for leukaemia.
• This results in a negative downward trend; this means the cancer risk increases with the increasing vicinity to the reactor site.
• It was found that the willingness of the cases or controls to participate in the study strongly depended on the distance from the home to the reactor. Thus, there is a self-selection in Part 2 (case-control study with interviews) which does not allow a transfer of findings from this part of the investigation to the first part (without interviews). However, this had no influence on the overall study findings.
In detail, the following trends were found:
A statistically significant monotonously decreasing trend of risk by distance was found:
– For all the diseases under study
– Largely caused by leukaemia
A negative correlation was found for CNS (tumours affecting the central nervous system) and no correlation at all was found for embryonic tumours.
To verify the findings, further examinations were carried out. Excluding a single reactor site from the analysis did not change the results. This means the findings cannot be attributed to a single reactor site, but are valid for all 16 nuclear power plant sites in total. The previously alleged, so-called “Krümmel” effect (the average increased incidence rate of leukaemia cases around the Krümmel site) has therefore been eliminated. To verify the results further, the innermost radius of a reactor (0 to 5 km distance) was omitted to exclude a possible systematic error due to the vicinity. Even so, the negative downward trend was confirmed.
How was the study scientifically assessed?
The study findings are reliable. No error or mistake which could explain the observed effect can be found in the development of the study design or in obtaining or analysing the data.
The study marks a significant progress concerning the questions of health effects in the vicinity of reactors discussed for the past 30 years, as an epidemiologically more ambitious approach was used. Thus far, only so-called ecological studies had been carried on this subject out in Germany, where incidence rates in defined areas (5, 10 and 15 km distance to a nuclear power plant) were compared with the rates in control areas. Through the case-control study it was possible to consider individual places of homes for cases as well as controls (persons not diseased). The controls were obtained randomly from the Residents Registration Offices. They were matched to each case by age and gender.
The result of the study is not surprising in the light of already existing findings from the German Childhood Cancer Registry, namely the two ecological incidence comparative studies mentioned above (KKW1 and KKW2). The increased risk is comparable to the risk found in these studies, and is still present in a period after those studies (1996 - 2003), though it is less obvious.
Unexpected is the significant result of the regression analysis, which shows a continuous increase of risk at an increasing vicinity of the home to the reactor.
– Within a radius of 5 km of the 16 sites of the 22 nuclear power plants, a statistical average of 46 cases of malign tumours of all types was to be expected. In reality 77 cases occurred. This means that an additional 29 cases can be attributed to living within this radius. This equals 1.2 additional cases per year within a radius of 5 km to the nuclear power plants. In Germany a total of 13,373 malign tumours were diagnosed between 1980 and 2003.
– Looking at the contraction of leukaemia, 17 cases were to be expected in line with the statistical average. In reality 37 cases occurred. This means that an additional 20 cases can be attributed to living within this radius. This equals 0.8 additional cases per year within a radius of 5 km to the nuclear power plants. In Germany a total of 5893 cases of leukaemia were diagnosed between 1980 and 2003.
The difference in the findings between the two periods - first half and second half of the operation of a power reactor - reflects roughly the results obtained in the studies KKW I and KKW II. The first study showed a statistically significantly increased risk (1980-1990, RR=3.01) in children up to the age of 5 within a radius of 5 km, which was markedly lower in the second period and did not reach a statistically significance (1991-1995, RR=1.39).
The negative result regarding CNS-tumours (central nervous system) does not support the result described for the Bavarian locations, which are regarded as hypothesis-generating. At that time it was found that the observed rates for malign tumours can be attributed mainly to increased rates in CNS-tumours .
A meta-analysis of ecological studies published in 2007 also comes to the conclusion that an increased incidence rate of childhood leukaemia in the vicinity of nuclear facilities can be observed, but that no hypothesis exists to explain this. A review by Grosche in 2006 also draws the conclusion that a slight increase can be observed in children and young adults with the greatest significance found within the youngest age-group living closest to the reactor.
What are the causes of the increased cancer rates?
When considering the hypothesis of an impact of radioactive discharge, it can be established that current knowledge suggests that the additional radiation exposure of the public through the operation of a power reactor is too small to cause the effect. The exposure would have to be 1000 to 10000 times higher. There currently is no plausible explanation for the observed effect, which has been showing an overall consistent picture with little fluctuations over the 24 year period.
9th December 2007
Supplement to the background paper (as of December 14, 2007)
Role of the panel of experts
In 2001, upon invitation of the President of the Federal Office for Radiation Protection (BfS), Wolfram König, a „Round Table“ with various groups convened in Kassel. To gain reliable results, BfS decided on the occasion of this Round Table to commission a methodogically more ambitious study, a so-called case-control study.
Prior to commissioning, BfS appointed a panel of experts who discussed the study concept and design in July 2002. BfS attached great importance to the fact that the scientists represented a broad and well-balanced spectrum regarding both the represented scientific disciplines and social positions. Appointed members were experts who had submitted relevant studies on this issue in the past (Dr. Kaatsch, Dr. Körblein, Dr. Küchenhoff, Dr. Scherb, Prof. Dr. Greiser, Prof. Dr. Hoffmann), designated epidemiologists (Prof. Dr. Jöckel, Prof. Dr. Wichmann, Dr. Straif, Dr. Brüske-Hohlfeld), a paediatrician (Prof. Dr. Walther) and representatives of NGOs of the Round Table (Dr. Pflugbeil, Dipl.-Phys. Wurzbacher).
The panel of experts submitted a proposal regarding the topic and type of the study. Taking this proposal into account, BfS publicly invited tenders for the performance of the study. The GCCR in Mainz filed a tender at BfS for carrying out the study (competing with a second tender) and was awarded the contract, since the tender was more cost-effective than the competing tender. Thereupon the panel of experts was reorganised such that Dr. Kaatsch of GCCR left the panel, since he was now a contractor. Furthermore, Prof. Dr. Wichmann left the panel on his own request due to the workload associated with membership, and another paediatrician (Prof. Dr. Wirth) was appointed to the panel.
The order was commissioned at the end of 2002. In the first two meetings held by the panel of experts the study design was further specified on the basis of the preceding discussions, the call for tenders and the tender submitted by GCCR for the performance of the study. After 4 years of research and altogether five meetings of the panel of experts the GCCR submitted its final report in November 2007.
Current state of evaluation of results
The study found that there is a significantly increased risk for children under five years of age to contract cancer and leukaemia the nearer they live to a nuclear power plant results from the study itself. According to today´s radio-biological knowledge the increase in risk determined in the study cannot be explained through the emissions from the nuclear power plants. The additional radiation exposure of the population required for this explanation would have to be about 1,000 to 10,000 times higher than it has been observed. However, from this observation it cannot be concluded that radiation as a cause can absolutely be excluded. Currently there are no plausible explanations for the determined effect, which has shown an altogether consistent picture with little fluctuation over the period of 24 years under investigation.
With regard to the radiation induced risk for children the following should be supplemented: The „Committee to Assess Health Risks from Exposure to Low Level of Ionizing Radiation“ of the US National Research Council has, in 2006, determined that the data situation on the radiation induced risk of childhood cancer is insufficient for carrying out a reliable risk assessment.
The International Commission on Radiological Protection (ICRP) and the United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation (UNSCEAR) state that the radiation related cancer risk for children is by factor 2 – 3 higher than the risk for adults. Additionally, the uncertainty in the current central risk estimate for adults might lead to an actual cancer risk that could be higher or lower by a factor 2-3 again. Furthermore, the dose coefficients (dose assessment due to incorporated activity) show considerable assessment uncertainties, in particular for children.
The study thus provides indications for possible causes for the increased number of cancer incidences around nuclear power plant sites but cannot furnish proof in terms of a causality.
The next steps
In November 2007, BfS charged the epidemiologist Prof. Dr. Jöckel with carrying out a detailed expert opinion on the study, which is expected by the end of 2007. BfS will then develop its final statement.
Furthermore – as was already planned at the beginning of the study – the Commission on Radiological Protection evaluates the study and its results on behalf of the Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety.
Dr. W. Weiss
For more details a summary of the study (German and English) and the full study (German) are available HYPERLINK "http://www.bfs.de/de/bfs/druck/Ufoplan/4334_KIKK.html" here HYPERLINK "http://www.bfs.de/de/bfs/druck/Ufoplan/4334_KIKK.html" http://www.bfs.de/de/bfs/druck/Ufoplan/4334_KIKK.html (in German language).
NO SAFE DOSE
"There is no safe level of exposure and
there is no dose of (ionizing) radiation so low
that the risk of a malignancy is zero."
– Dr. Karl Morgan, the father of Health Physics
Also concluded by the National Academy of Sciences
BEIR VII, Phase 2, 2006 study, pg 15:
There is a "no-threshold dose-response relationship
between exposure to ionizing radiation
and the development of cancer in humans."
The international standard criterion
for releases of radioactive effluents
during the routine operation of nuclear power plants
is called ALARA
which stands for As Low As Reasonably Achievable.
We believe that no man-made radioactive release
into the environment is reasonable,
since financial profits are valued over human lives
statistically estimated to contract cancer
in the neighborhood of nuclear power plants.
"The chapter on DNA repair and processing
concludes that it is likely that exposure of humans
to low doses and low dose rates
does result in permanent alterations in DNA sequences,
which points away from a threshold."
– Richard Wakeford, Review of Evaluation of the Linear-Nonthreshold Dose-Response
Model for Ionizing Radiation (National Council on Radiation Protection,
NCRP Report No.136), Journal of Radiological Protection, 2002, Vol. 22 No.3
No threshold means that any dose of radiation can lead to cancer. Wakeford states, "The report begins by examining the way in which radiation energy is deposited in cells. It concludes that at low doses and low dose rates the relevant biological damage would be produced by a 'single hit' because of the spatial and temporal sparseness of the events causing the damage. Since cancer is considered to be monoclonal (single cell) in origin, this suggests that the dose-response is linear at low doses with no threshold." Again, no threshold means that any dose of radiation can lead to cancer which means that there is no safe dose of radiation.
"Ionizing radiation travels through our living tissue with much more energy than either natural chemical, or biological functions. This extra energy tears mercilessly at the very fabric of what makes us recognizably human—our genetic material. Elderly and people with immune disorders are more susceptible to ionizing radiation. Children and the unborn are especially susceptible because of their rapid and abundant cell division during growth.
"Cancers linked to ionizing radiation exposure include most blood cancers (leukemia, lymphoma), lung cancer, and many solid tumors of various organs. Birth defects can include downs syndrome, cleft palate or lip, congenital malformations, spinal defects, kidney, liver damage and more.
"Evidence exists that radiation is permanently and unpredictably mutating the gene pool and contributing to its gradual weakening. . . .
"A living being’s genetic material is the library that houses the instructions for many important aspects of that being and his/her offspring, including the ability to defend against diseases. If we allow ionizing radiation to tamper with our genes, it could cause irreversible damage, not just to this generation through cancer, but to future generations through gene mutations and ensuing disease."
Also, a 2002-2005 international study funded by the European Commission, Nano-pathology: The Role of Micro and Nanoparticles in Biomaterial-Induced Pathology, revealed disturbing microscopic photographs of how pollution clings to human organs and translocates from mother to fetus, as well as frankly horrifying photos of pollutants external effects on infants.
pathologies human lesions liver cancer
dust engine atmospheric mineral mineral_dust
plasma sterilisation implants activities applications
pathologies cancer micro material liver
trapped motions qubits axial electron
dust engine atmospheric mineral_dust interactions
pathways complement cells tropical stem
complex_system trained system applications physical
The United States continues to accept the propaganda of the nuclear power industry, propaganda funded by hundreds of millions of dollars and largely disseminated by its Washington lobbying organization the Nuclear Energy Institute (NEI).
The TVA continues to give hundreds of millions of dollars to the 90% French government owned company, AREVA; while Germany has voted to end nuclear power by 2025. The cold northern country of Germany now produces more than 20% of its power from renewable energy sources and is exporting more power than ever in its history. Germany has been at the forefront of technologies for centuries, and China is following their lead by investing in solar technologies. Sadly, the United States is lagging behind in innovation and development of solar and other renewable energy technologies.
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