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Leukemias near Nuclear Power Stations – new evidence

Taken together, the new studies indicate that our current understandings about radiation risks, especially in infants and children, may be incorrect and they may need to be revised upwards. In particular, the current adult (absolute) ICRP risk for fatal cancer of 5% per Sv and the ICRP’s use of a dose and dose-rate effectiveness factor (DDREF) look increasingly out of date.

The new studies also mean that our public radiation limits and constraints may need to be revised. 

cancer_cellsRecent evidence on the risks of very low-level radiation, Dr Ian Fairlie, January 17, 2013   

“…… 4. Leukemias near Nuclear Power Stations  The final area is exposures from nuclear power stations.

Readers will be aware of my lectures showing that about 40 studies worldwide indicate increased leukemia risks among children within 5 km of nuclear power plants (NPPs). In particular, the important 2008 KiKK case-control study (discussed in Fairlie, 2009), which was commissioned by the German Government, found large increases in the risks of child leukemias and embryonal cancers near all German NPPs. This authoritative report led to geographical studies sponsored by the governments of France, UK, Switzerland and Germany. These have now been published and all four had similar findings, ie  30% to 40% increases in child leukemias near NPPs – see table from Körblein and Fairlie (2012) which contains the references to these four government studies.

Table: Studies of observed (O) and expected (E) childhood leukemias (under 5 year olds) within 5 km of NPPs

Dataset O E SIR=O/E 90% CI one-sided p-value
Germany 34 24.1 1.41 1.04-1.88 0.0328
Great Britain 20 15.4 1.30 0.86-1.89 0.1464
France 14 10.2 1.37 0.83-2.15 0.1506
Switzerland 11 7.9 1.40 0.78-2.31 0.1711
Pooled 79 57.6 1.37 1.13-1.66 0.0042

The important point here is that most scientists think that radiation exposures to local residents from NPPs are extremely small. Indeed, many nuclear scientists remain in denial about the relationship between proximity to NPPs and child leukemias despite the bountiful clear evidence which exists. Yet the evidence of child leukemias near NPPs fits well with the evidence emerging from background radiation and medical radiation.

Conclusion

The new studies mentioned in this post provide much food for thought. Readers should note that they are all very large studies commonly with over 100,000 data points. This means that they all have good statistical power, and the usual caveat of lacking statistical significance does not apply to them. Note also that these studies are mostly from government or academic sources- indeed some are by scientists who used to work in the nuclear industry. That is, we need to take their results very seriously.

Taken together, the new studies indicate that our current understandings about radiation risks, especially in infants and children, may be incorrect and they may need to be revised upwards. In particular, the current adult (absolute) ICRP risk for fatal cancer of 5% per Sv and the ICRP’s use of a dose and dose-rate effectiveness factor (DDREF) look increasingly out of date.

The new studies also mean that our public radiation limits and constraints may need to be revised. http://www.ianfairlie.org/news/recent-evidence-on-the-risks-of-very-low-level-radiation/

January 18, 2013 - Posted by | 2 WORLD, health, Reference

1 Comment »

  1. […] Leukemias near Nuclear Power Stations – new evidence (nuclear-news.net) […]

    Pingback by radiological imaging « deemagclinic | January 18, 2013 | Reply


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