Nuclear power plants make children sick
Questions and answers about cancer risk around nuclear facilities.
When speaking of the dangers of nuclear power plants, most people think of incidents in which radioactivity is released, or they think of large reactor accidents such as Windscale, Chernobyl and Harrisburg. It is less known, though, that everyday normal operations of nuclear facilities and their “tolerable emissions” already are a threat.
The closer children live to a nuclear power plant, the higher is their risk of developing cancer. The until now most elaborate study on this issue from 2007 (LINK & SUMMARY) verified that without doubt. But it had no consequences: Instead, supporters of nuclear power strive to conceal the proven link between cancer and nuclear power plants.
In this issue, its grave results and discussions about them are described.
_Do children who grow up near a nuclear power plant have a higher rate of cancer than other children?
Yes, definitely. The cancer risk increases the closer the infant to a nuclear power plant lives. Thus children who are raised up to five kilometers of a German nuclear power plant, have a by 60 percent increased risk of getting cancer. Their risk of developing leukemia (blood cancer), is even increased by 120 percent – more than twice as high compared to children who do not live near a nuclear power plant. Leukemia is among the cancers that are particularly easily induced by radiation (1). Even at a distance of 50 kilometers from a nuclear power plant the risk of developing cancer in children is increased. The results of the epidemiological investigation are actually highly significant at close range. That is, the proven clustering of cancer cases around nuclear power plants can not be explained by simple “coincidence”. 1980 to 2003 121 to 275 infants across the country only fell ill with cancer, because they lived close to a nuclear power plant.
_What is this study that proved increased Cancer risk?
The so-called KiKK study. The acronym stands for “Epidemiological Study of Childhood Cancer in the Vicinity of Nuclear Power Plants “(2). It has been commissioned in March 2003, by the Federal Office for Radiation Protection (BfS), a subordinate to the Federal Environment Ministry Authority. The German Childhood Cancer Registry at the Institute for Medical Biometry, Epidemiology and Computer science (IMBEI), University of Mainz, has carried out the study and was scientifically monitored by an external panel of experts from twelve physicians, pidemiologists, physicists and statisticians. The study was published in December 2007. It is the world’s most sophisticated, most accurate and most comprehensive investigation on the topic.
_Was there even earlier evidence of increased cancer rates in the vicinity of nuclear power plants?
Yes. Already in 1978, publications on leukemia cases in children who lived in the main wind direction of the NPP Lingen (Ems) caused trouble. In the 1980s, studies in England showed that children, who live in the vicinity of nuclear installations, have an increased risk of developing leukemia.(3)(4) Also in the vicinity of the NPP Gundremmingen there was evidence of diseases and malformations of the extremities or the internal organs in newborns.
In the beginning of the 1990s, an unusual accumulation of cases of leukemia, a so-called “cluster” in the vicinity of the NPP Krümmel in Geesthacht at the river Elbe caused a heated debate. A study of the Mainz Institute for Medical Statistics and Documentation (IMSD) from 1992, using data from 1980 to 1990, has failed to indicate an increase in childhood cancer rates within the 15-kilometer radius around nuclear plants, but showed a significant increase in incidence of leukemia in small children under five years within the proximity of five kilometers.(5) In a second study of the IMSD, the so-called Michaelis-study published in 1997 with data from 1980 to 1995, that result was not alleged any longer.(6) Only until the study of 1998 by the Munich based physicist Dr. Alfred Körblein who reanalysed Michaelis’ data showed again an increase by 54-percent in children under five years and an increased incidence of leukemia by 76 percent within the five kilometer area (7) Following public pressure from the Ulm initiative doctors (“Ulmer Ärzteinitiative”) and other South German initiatives – including 10 000 letters of protest by citizens – and the IPPNW the Federal Office for Radiation Protection comissioned in 2001 a methodologically sophisticated study, which later became the KiKK study.
_What questions should the survey answer?
The panel of external experts and the Federal Office for Radiation protection decided on three questions that the KiKK study should answer: Do cancers in children under five occur more frequently in the vicinity of nuclear power plants than anywhere else? If yes: Does the risk increase with proximity to the nuclear power plants (“negative distance trend”)? Are there influencing factors that are able to explain the results of the investigation?
_What were the precise characteristics of the population under study?
What did the study attempt to learn?
All administrative districts located within the 50-kilometer radius of all of Germany’s nuclear power plant sites(15). were studied*, including 21 operating nuclear reactors.
* NPP Lingen and NPP Emsland were regarded as one location, due to their great proximity.
Rate of cancer among children attributable to living close to nuclear power plants 1980 – 2003
dark gray: from; light gray: until – Less than 5 – less than 10 – less than 20 – less than 30 – less than 40 – less than 50 km distance to the next nuclear power plant
Because conclusions have greater statistical power the larger the data base, researchers chose an extended study period: 24 years, from 1980 to 2003.
The Mainz Children’s Cancer Registry registered nationwide all newly diagnosed cancers in children since 1980, eliminating bias of reporting from
multiple regional registries.1,592 new cancer cases cancer, 593 of them from leukemia, were found in the study group of children < age 5. A case-control study, the question needed to be answered as to how many cases might be expected due to chance alone. The control group must be carefully selected. In this case the control group were children
A case-control study is more complex. Hence, the study population from which “cases” were tallied were the children in the 5 km. from a nuclear plant in the same districts.
The control group included a total of 4,735 children. For every ill and every healthy child, the researchers determined the distance between housing and exhaust chimney of the nuclear power plant accurate to 25 meters. This distance served as an approximation (“surrogate”) for the expected radioactivity in the area of the dwelling – because it is simply not possible to measure radioactivity precisely in approximately 6,327 dwellings directly around the clock and for years or even to determine it retrospectively.
_ What are the answers the study gives to the three questions?
Yes, children under five years of age who live in the vicinity of nuclear power plants do have a higher rate of cancer than anywhere else.
Yes, the risk of disease increases with proximity to the nuclear power plants (“negative distance trend”).
No, apart from the distance between home and nuclear power plant, no other factors were found that could explain the outcome of the investigation, despite extensive search. Thus, there was and is no doubt that the radioactive emissions from nuclear power plants cause the increased cancer rate and particularly the greatly increased incidence of leukemia in young children.
_ Why did the study only investigate the cancer of small children?
Infants are much more sensitive to radiation than adults. Therefore it is more likely one can find “execss cases” in childhood cancer and leukemia given a limited sample size.
There are several reasons for this:
First, a child is steadily increasing weight and size, as it grows from embryo to adulthood; the younger it is the more quickly it grows. Therefore, cells of an embryo, fetus, infant, infant divide significantly more frequently than those of a child, teenager or even adult. Dividing cells(mitosis) are much more susceptible to radiation than cells in recovery phase.
Secondly, the ability to identify (“surveillance”) and eliminate “defective” cellsis not fully developed in childhood. the human embryo is programed for rapid growth. Without this cellular repair mechanism at its disposal, stem cells, such as those that are caused by radioactive exposure, may br induced to continue to divide beyond the programmed point when they might normally be turned off in normal fetal development. This could, and does sometimes, lead to cancer or leukemia, or other birth defects.
Third, a growing child absorbs more matter than it releases – in contrast to an adult. Its body accepts radioactive substances in food, drink and air more avidly.
Particularly dangerous are radioactive cesium and strontium, which emit for a very long time and remain in muscles or bones.
Fourth, children have their whole lives ahead of them. In some radiation-induced diseases, it takes a long time, until they can be detected, sometimes 20 or even 30 years. Children have more than (older) adults this dubious opportunity, to live until the end of this latency period.
_ Can the results of the investigation also transferred to young people and adults?
Certainly not one to one, because children are, as said above, clearly more sensitive to radiation than adults. Disease clusters in older children, adolescents and adults who are living close nuclear power plants are by no means out of question . On the contrary: In the vicinity of the Fermi Reactor in Michigan / USA and the Vermont Yankee reactor in Vermont / USA, for example, health authorities reported recently a general increase in cancer rates.(8), (9) Also a meta-analysis of several studies in the U.S. showed elevated leukemia rates in the vicinity of nuclear power plants in patients up to 25 years.(10)
_ Cancer can have many causes. Why should radiation from nuclear power plants be responsible for the diseases of children?
The Mainz experts in the KiKK study evaluated about 20 factors that can trigger cancer. The control group andante study group were ‘matched” so as to be the same with regard to: the socio-economic situation of the families of diseased and the control children, exposure to pesticides, tobacco smoke and other toxins, immune diseases, and exposure to radiation other than than the nuclear reactors may be present. Therefore, these “confounders” could not, explain the striking clustering of childhood cancer around nuclear power plants explain – except for the nuclear power plant near the place of residence. Furthermore, the incidence of cancer increased with proximity to nuclear plants. Also incidence decreased with distance from the reactor (“negative distance trend “), a strong indication that the cancer risk has something to do with nuclear power emissions. And what other cause, if not radiation should be eligible for the cancer in question? The sight of the cooling towers, perhaps? In addition, the increase of leukemia (blood cancer), which is known to be inducible by radiation exposure, among those in the vicinity of a nuclear plant is particularly strong evidence.
_ Radiation from the nuclear power plant? Are they not very tight?
No, they are not. Every nuclear plant is already emitting radioactive substances into air and water during the so-called normal operation – quite legally. In the case of nuclear power plants this comprises among others tritium (H-3, heavy hydrogen), radioactive carbon (C-14), strontium (Sr-90), iodine (I-131), cesium (Cs-137), plutonium (Pu-239), radioactive noble gases such as krypton (Kr-85), argon (Ar-41) and xenon (Xe-133). Most of these isotopes emit beta particles, which are high-energy electrons and which are, despite being of small range, very dangerous after absorption into the body (incorporation) through respiration, food and beverages. The aforementioned isotopes have very different half-lives between 5.2 days (Xe-133) and 24 110 years (Pu-239). A nuclear power plant in Germany is usually allowed to emit every years as much as a quadrillion (1015) becquerels of radioactive noble gases, 30 billion (3.10^10) becquerels of radioactive particles and approximately 10 billion (10^10) becquerels of radioactive iodine-131 into the air.(11)
In this context particular attention should be paid to tritium and strontium. Tritium is a beta emitter with a half-life of 12.3 years. Nuclear power plants and other nuclear facilities emit it in large quantities over their chimney and its wastewater into the environment. It combines readily with oxygen to “severe water “(HTO). Plants, animals and humans are not able to distinguish tritium from normal hydrogen and heavy water. This means that tritium and water that contains tritium are absorbed as normal hydrogen and normal water are absorbed and used in all parts of the body. Tritium is thus built into all organs and even right into the genes where beta particles – despite their relatively short range – are close enough to radiation sensitive structures to lead to diseases and genetic defects.(12)
Strontium-90, a beta emitter with a half-life of 28.8 years, is indeed released in much smaller quantities to the environment than tritium. However, there is no reason for an all-clear, because strontium is considered to be calcium by the body and therefore incorporated into bones and teeth – especially in children whose bones and teeth are still growing.
Strontium-90 particles which are located close to the bone marrow send their beta particles over years and decades into the bone marrow, where the formation of blood takes place. Even small amounts of strontium-90 are therefore one of the most dangerous triggers for childhood leukemia.
_ What is the benchmark, how much is a nuclear power plant allowed to emit?
According to radiation protection regulation nuclear facilities may not strain <expose> the general population with<to><strain with replace with expose to> more than a maximum of 0.6 millisievert per year (0.3 millisievert through the air plus 0.3 millisievert through sewage. This is often misleadingly called a “30-millirem-concept”, using the unit millirem which was used in the past). In order to estimate the dose of a nuclear power plant that causes (measurable) stress, operators of the facility and the licensing authorities calculate the effects of emissions on fictional local residents, the (a) so-called “reference man”. Hereby a number of more or less well-founded assumptions and realistic models are used – from dilution and spread of the exhaust gases to the living, dining and drinking habits of “reference man”. Which is, by the way, always a young, healthy, adult male.
_ Is the radiation exposure from a nuclear power plant reportedly very low. Can she still many additional cancers explain?
All official information on radiation exposure from nuclear facilities <are> based on computer models and assumptions. How much radiation the residents actually gotten <received> a nuclear plant, <is less clear> No one knows. For the conspicuous accumulation (clustering) of cancer in children around nuclear power plants there are a whole series of (many) possible explanations: 13.14 The actual emissions from the nuclear reactors could be higher than the mostly random and / or nuclides and certain limited types of radiation measurements to believe. (One reason for underestimating dose received may be that routine measurements are obtained from further out from the nuclear power plant operators themselves made while supervisors only occasional control measurements.) conduct
The computational models that allow the dilution and dispersion nuclides of the votes in the simulated environment of the NPP be, may be wrong., and miscalculate the actual radiation exposure of people in the vicinity of nuclear facilities.
Conventional assumptions may be in error , regarding inclusion and retention of radionuclides in exposed plants, animals and humans. If so, the hypotheses concerning the impact of these these nuclides upon the body may also be in error. Biological effects in the body of nuclides are probably undervalued. Tritium is disregarded by the radiation protection authorities, casually understated it seems, at least strongly unterschätzt. We have far to go to have reliable dose-ressponse relationships, relating to most nuclides and nuclide daughters. Special cases are iodine and strontium, which have affinity for the thyroid an done respectively. It is hazardous science to extrapolate from this special case data. The ideas about what dose of radiation to which Damage leads (“dose-response relationship”), could incorrectly be as above (page 15) as described for strontium. Certain population groups, especially children, are extremely radiosensitive. Limits and model calculations take no account of it so far.
_ What kind of reaction did it for publication
Given the controversial results of the study was the stir in large domestic and foreign. The authors of the study were were obviously scared of their own courage.
In a kind Dementia they recanted their own findings and wrote: “Due to the current state of the radiation biology and radiation epidemiology, Causal relationships from onizing radiation emissions from German nuclear power plants generally are easily misinterpreted, either in measuring disease associations or in identifying safe exposures or safe proximities. “Munich radiation biologist Edmund Lengfelder considers the current approach “the constituent elements of Forgery or fraud in science “erfüllt.1
Authors argue nuclear plant emissions are thousands of times too low, and to prove the observed cancer rates on the basis of the environment would need to be significantly increased, and suspect “still unknown Factors “,” selection mechanisms “and statistical Coincidence. This in the face of clear and highly statistically significant study results, they provide rather fatuous and far-fetched explanations. Nevertheless, nuclear power supporters attacked the argument.
Authors also admit there was “neither measured nor modeled” data on radiation exposure in children. This may be irrelevant. Scientists had the Mainz Cancer Registry available. Study planning chose the distance between residence and nuclear dose. About their research projects then she wrote: “With the help of a distance law can with an approximate size of the surrogate dose-response Relationship to be estimated. “15
The outside panel of experts reviewing the study trivialized the interpretation of the results immediately in re: relationship between radiation exposure Nuclear power plants and cancer, stating that “because of the particularly high Radiation risk to small children and insufficient emissions data from power reactors (…) an relationship could not be excluded.
In regards to “several epidemiological Causality criteria for such a relationship. “16 The physician and epidemiologist at the University of Greifswald, Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Hoffmann, a member of the external expert panel ruled: “I know few epidemiological studies that have as clear Findings as these. “17 The Federal Office for Radiation Protection, Commissioned recognizes that “due to the significant dependence the risk of the distance to the sites of Reactors ” there are a”t least indications” of possible correlations “.18
The Federal Environment Ministry, however, saw no reason to tighten existing limits upon residence in proximity to German nuclear power plants as a radiation protection measure, and suggests that radiation exposure from a nuclear power plant may not be sufficient explanation for the established leukemia cases rate. “19
_ What conclusions can we draw from the study?
IPPNW calls not “allowed emissions” from the nuclear plant, to the alleged exposure of a healthy man (“Reference man”) to orient, but in the embryo. A healthy young man with intact cellular repair mechanisms can probably tolerate more radioactivity than a woman and even as a child, not to mention a whole embryo. It is therefore high time that the “reference man” gets replaced by a “reference embryo “ 9, 20
Because embryos can be already damaged by very low radiation doses, it would hardly be technically possible, to reduce the nuclear power plant emissions to the extent that an embryo is not actually at risk. Therefore, the nuclear power plants will be shut down immediately. Everywhere.
Our children are more important than nuclear power plants to maturity. Furthermore, the emissions from nuclear facilities, as long as these still in operation, are continuously measured by the supervisory authorities and are not reviewed by the self instead of talking small about the results of the study, the population in the vicinity of nuclear power plants should be elucidated about the increased Risk by officials. Finally, advocates the IPPNW for a sick child in the nuclear environment Shift the burden of proof: It is not the parents should have to prove that the condition of their child caused by the nuclear power plant was, but the nuclear power plant operators would have to prove that their Nuclear power plant is not the cause of the disease.
_ I live near a nuclear power plant. Should I move? Not every child living near a nuclear plant gets Leukemia. The absolute incidence figures per year, and nuclear are not very large. Panic is not appropriate. We think it is but essential that pregnant women and parents of young children the increased risk are informed so that their living and life decisions can make responsible. The CEO of EnBW, E. ON, RWE and Vattenfall in any case, it was by the way, all live far away from their nuclear power plants.
The most extensive, elaborate and careful investigation on cancer near nuclear power plants has a long harbored suspicions confirmed scientifically threaten nuclear reactors already in the normal everyday operation of the health our children. There is no doubt that the radioactive Emissions from nuclear power plants are linked with the exceptionally high Cancer and particularly leukemia rates in young children within an area of up to 50 kilometers. Those who do not want to see the truth have their eyes shut tight.
There is some evidence that the radioactive emissions and effluents of nuclear power plants not only work as demonstrated, har embryos and small children but also adolescents and Adults. More scandalous is that the supervisory authorities yet refuse to draw the conclusions from the results into their own commissioned study, and instead of the obvious connection between Cancer and nuclear power continue to deny. No wonder: If the limit values for radioactive emissions are defined that any risk to unborn children and even less could can be excluded, no more nuclear power plant operation would remain. Rather than haggle for longer maturities and new nuclear capacity, It would be really the task of parliamentarians and Rulers,to protect the people against the dangers of nuclear power, moreover, for 50 years, the cancelation of the Atomic Energy Act. It is our responsibility for future generations that the energy production by nuclear fission is put immediately to end.
Thanks to the persistent, decades-long commitment of citizens and citizens that the KiKK study was made famous. Critical scholars and doctors had to ensure by their publication to ensure that the explosive results were not returnes under the carpet. And only political pressure will ensure that Limits are tightened and nuclear power plants are shut down. We all have our own contributions. Nuclear power plants threaten even in normal operation, the health.
_ What to do?
If you believe the arguments in this brochure, disseminate them further. It is important that many people actively involved in the debate about nuclear power. Because the energy companies have well-equipped public relations departments to to place their claims in the public and parliamentarians take by lobbying for their point of view. No nuclear power produces no radioactive emissions. Change Your current provider, you switch to a real Green electricity provider. So that you personally get out of nuclear out and give you a receipt for the energy companies their actions, that does hurt them. Vote with your consumer also from which energy you want! Convince even more people from the exchange! Environmental and consumer groups and anti-nuclear initiatives have joined forces with the campaign to “make nuclear phase-yourself” help to provide for change. Under www.atomausstieg-selber-machen.de are independent green electricity provider recommended.From where they can You can easily switch to green power. If you want to do more, get involved in the actions of. broadcasted (more at www.ausgestrahlt.de) that play They organize themselves in a local anti-nuclear group, a
Event on the topic (speakers conveyed the IPPNW) or mingle, as readers with a brief, in the public debate on the energy supply of tomorrow.
Everyone can contribute something.
Verzeichnis der Quellen
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11 Bundesministerium für Umwelt, Naturschutz und Reaktorsicherheit (Hg.): Umweltradioaktivität und Strahlenbelastung. Jahresbericht 2007, Dezember 2008.
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15 Schulze-Rath R, Kaatsch P, Schmiedel S, Spix C, Blettner M: Krebs bei Kindern in der Umgebung von Kernkraftwerken: Bericht zu einer laufenden Studie. Umweltmedizin in Forschung und Praxis 11, Nr. 1, 20, 2006.
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17 Hoffmann W: (Interview) Kinderkrebs um Atomkraftwerke. IPPNW aktuell 18/08, Berlin.
18 König W: BfS und DKKR stellen sich gemeinsam hinter die Ergebnisse der Kinderkrebsstudie. BfS-Pressemitteilung 014/07 vom 19.12.2007.
19 Pressemitteilung BMU vom 09.10.2008.
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