RADIATION FROM NUCLEAR PLANTS RISING IN BODIES, LINKED WITH CHILD CANCER - BALDWIN CALLS FOR PUBLIC SUPPORT OF RESEARCH

 

Trenton, May 19 - A sharp rise in radiation levels found in baby teeth since the late 1980s has been detected near the Oyster Creek nuclear reactor, according to a new report announced at the state capitol today.  In addition, the radiation trend closely resembles the local trend in childhood cancer.

 

"These findings document a link between these harmful chemicals and cancer," said Joseph Mangano of the New York-based Radiation and Public Health Project (RPHP), and the author of the report.  Actor Alec Baldwin called on the state legislature to help fund future research. "Because the government allows reactors to operate, it should support this important health research evaluating cancer risk," said Baldwin.

 

"The health of our people is at stake," asserts Assemblyman Matt Ahearn, "especially children, who are most susceptible to toxic chemicals like radiation."  Ahearn will ask the state Assembly and Senate to contribute $25,000 this year to underwrite RPHP costs.

 

RPHP tested 169 baby teeth from Ocean and Monmouth County children.  Almost all of the nearly 1.2 million residents in these two counties reside within 40 miles north (downwind) of the Oyster Creek nuclear plant.  The group found that local children born in 1994-97 had a 51% greater concentration of Strontium-90 (Sr-90) than those born in 1986-89.  Sr-90 is one of over 100 radioactive chemicals produced only in atomic bomb tests, which have ceased, or in nuclear reactor emissions.  It is chemically similar to calcium, adhering to bone and teeth after being inhaled or consumed in the food chain.  Its slow decay rate means it is present in the body for many years.

 

In the last 14 years for which data are available, trends in average Sr-90 and cancer rates in children under age ten are similar, suggesting a cause-and-effect.  RPHP has also detected this linkage in Suffolk County, NY (where the Brookhaven plant operated until 1999) and in Westchester County, NY (where the Indian Point plant operates).

 

RPHP's next effort is to test baby teeth from New Jersey children with cancer for Sr-90 levels, and compare results to those in children without cancer.  It is actively seeking help from childhood cancer hospital units and support groups to collect these teeth.  To date, 47 "cancer teeth" from other states have considerably higher Sr-90 levels than "non-cancer teeth."

 

Toms River, located nine miles north of Oyster Creek in Ocean County, is the site of a large childhood cancer cluster.  In December 2001, the State Health Department produced a report claiming there is no linkage between the cluster and any environmental contaminant, including radiation emitted from Oyster Creek.

 

RADIOACTIVE STRONTIUM-90 IN BABY TEETH

OF NEW JERSEY CHILDREN

AND THE LINK WITH CANCER: A SPECIAL REPORT

By

Joseph J. Mangano, National Coordinator

The Radiation and Public Health Project

Trenton NJ

May 19, 2003