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An unacceptable risk to children — Beyond Nuclear International

Children exposed to radiation are often from minority communities

An unacceptable risk to children — Beyond Nuclear International

Standards don’t protect them and studies dismiss them

By Linda Pentz Gunter

In a peer reviewed article published in the British Medical Journal Pediatrics Open in October, my Beyond Nuclear colleague, Cindy Folkers and I, reviewed the studies currently available that look at the impact on children from radiation exposures caused by the nuclear power sector.

In particular, we looked at the disproportionately negative impact on children living in disadvantaged communities, primarily those of color. As we wrote in the article: 

“From uranium mining and milling, to fuel manufacture, electricity generation and radioactive waste management, children in frontline and Indigenous communities can be disproportionately harmed due to often increased sensitivity of developing systems to toxic exposures, the lack of resources and racial and class discrimination.”

At about the same time, and as if to confirm our hypothesis, the story of the Jana elementary school in Missouri began to break.

The school is in a predominantly Black community in northern St. Louis and the US army corps of engineers had been called in to assess radioactivity found in classrooms, playgrounds and on sports fields at the school after findings of unacceptable levels of radioactivity on the premises were revealed in an independent report conducted by Dr. Marco Kaltofen, President of Boston Chemical Data Corporation.

The radioactive contamination found at the school was, as the report described it, “consistent with the radioactive legacy uranium processing wastes notoriously found in the heavily contaminated Coldwater Creek in North St. Louis County, MO, and in low-lying areas subject to flooding from the creek.”

The report concluded that “radiological contamination exists at unacceptable levels (greater than 5.0 net pCi/g as alpha radiation) at the Jana School property.”

Those wastes, dating back from the 1940s to 1960s, were produced by a company called Mallinckrodt, which processed uranium from the Belgian Congo as part of the Manhattan Project. The radioactive waste they produced was illegally dumped in what was then surrounding countryside and at the West Lake Landfill. It seeped into creeks and spread into parks and even homes. 

story we ran on Beyond Nuclear International in March 2018 relates the struggle of residents to get their community cleaned up. Atomic Homefront, a compelling documentary about this fight, brings home exactly the toll this environmental crime has taken on people living there, especially women.

Radioactive lead-210, thorium and radium-226 were among the isotopes found at Jana Elementary school, at levels far higher than those considered permissible (but not safe) at Superfund sites. The lead-210 was at levels 22 times what would be considered “expected” in such an environment.

Why had it taken so long to discover this immense and unacceptable risk to children?

Jana’s PTA president, Ashley Bernaugh, believes she knows the answer. 

“Jana elementary’s radioactive past looks like a lot of other communities where hazardous waste has been allowed to exist in predominantly minority communities and in lower middle income communities, where it never would have been allowed in upper income level communities because of the public outrage,” she told The Guardian.

By November 9 the corps had declared that radiation levels at the school “showed no levels of radiation higher than ‘the level of radioactivity Mother Nature already provides.’”

“Mother Nature” is a euphemistic reference to “background radiation,” already problematic given the decades of atomic testing and major nuclear accidents that have added to what “background” radiation levels once were but are no longer. Of far greater concern is that these levels, while likely not even safe for adults, are certainly not safe for children.

This determination of what is “safe” is based on a standard that is not only outdated but was wrong from the start. Here is what we wrote about this in our BMJ article.

“Pregnancy, children and women are underprotected by current regulatory standards that are based on ‘allowable’ or ‘permissible’ doses for a ‘Reference Man’. Early in the nuclear weapons era, a ‘permissible dose’ was more aptly recognized as an ‘acceptable injury limit,’ but that language has since been sanitized.”

Reference Man is defined as a nuclear industry worker 20–30 years of age, who weighs around 154 pounds, is 67 inches tall and is a Caucasian Western European or North American in habitat and custom.

“Very early research conducted in the USA in 1945 and 1946 indicated higher susceptibility of pregnancy to radiation exposure. Pregnant dogs injected with radiostrontium had defects in their offspring and yet, complete results of these studies were not made public until 1969,” we wrote.

“By 1960 however, U.S. experts were clearly aware that research indicated higher susceptibility of children, when the Federal Radiation Council (established in 1959 by President Eisenhower) briefly considered a definition for ‘Standard Child’—which they subsequently abandoned in favor of maintaining a Standard Man definition, later renamed Reference Man.”

Reference Man still stands, although our organization, in partnership with the Gender + Radiation Impact Project, are working to get it changed to Reference Girl. (If you are interested in learning more about this, you can join our online classes.)

Why are children, and especially female children, as well as women and especially pregnant women, more susceptible to harm from radiation exposure? This is not fully understood and regulatory practices, particularly in the establishment of protective exposure standards, have failed to take this difference into account. 

An examination of Navajo babies born between 1964 and 1981 showed that congenital anomalies, developmental disorders and other adverse birth outcomes were associated with the mother living near uranium mines and wastes.

Other studies — among Aboriginal communities in Australia and members of Indigenous tribes in India —showed similar outcomes. But so-called anecdotal evidence is invariably dismissed in favor of “statistical insignificance”.

Even perhaps the most famous study, in Germany, of children living near nuclear plants showing elevated rates of leukemia directly correlated to the proximity of their homes to the nuclear sites, was dismissed with claims that the doses were simply too low to have such an impact.

As we concluded in our BMJ article, which is fully accessible and can be read in its entirety here, “more independent studies are needed focused on children, especially those in vulnerable frontline and Indigenous communities. In conducting such studies, greater consideration must be applied to culturally significant traditions and habits in these communities.”

Linda Pentz Gunter is the international specialist at Beyond Nuclear and writes for and curates Beyond Nuclear International.


January 15, 2023 Posted by | 2 WORLD, children, radiation, Reference | Leave a comment

Return to studying baby teeth for radioactivity from nuclear weapons and nuclear facilities

St. Louis baby teeth study sparked nuclear test ban 60 years ago

Now, the baby tooth study from decades ago carries new life in the form of a Harvard study.

by: Joey Schneider, Jan 7, 2023

ST. LOUIS – A famous study involving the baby teeth of St. Louis area children helped lay the foundation for a treaty to ban atmospheric nuclear testing 60 years ago.

A group of scientists, led by physician Louise Reed and St. Louis-area professor Barry Commoner, launched the study in December 1958 through the Greater St. Louis Citizen’s Committee for Nuclear Information. The mission: To determine whether radioactive fallout and nuclear energy had a negative impact on children’s health.

From 1958 to 1970, researchers collected more than 320,000 baby teeth of children from various ages, primarily from those in the St. Louis area.

The study followed a 1956 report from the U.S. Public Health Service, which hinted that St. Louis and other Midwestern cities could have alarming levels of radioactivity in water, air and milk following above-ground nuclear tests around the United States. In the decade leading up to that, officials had moved forward with nearly 100 nuclear tests, some that happened above-ground and spurred concerns of exposure, according to the Arms Control Association.

Preliminary case studies determined that children born in 1963 had levels of strontium 90, a radioactive isotope found in bomb fallout, nearly 50 times higher than children born in 1950. A limited study published by Science Magazine in 1961 presented similar findings.

“The immediate radiation danger moved public opinion, which influenced Congress to pass and President John F. Kennedy to implement the Limited Test Ban Treaty in 1963,” said the Missouri History Museum on the research. “They knew that a by-product of nuclear weapons testing is death-dealing, cancer-causing radiation. Some elemental isotopes last for thousands of years while others decay quickly, but airborne debris drifts for miles from explosions, falling onto food and water.”

Kennedy campaigned for president in strong opposition to nuclear testing, according to the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library. However, he entered his term at the height of the Cold War and faced mounting pressure after the Soviet Union conducted dozens of above-ground nuclear tests. In 1962, he reluctantly announced that the United States would resume atmospheric testing.

As Kennedy attempted to negotiate a ban on such testing, the findings of the St. Louis baby tooth study came to his attention. Negotiations to end atmospheric radioactive testing, the issue at the center of the baby tooth study, intensified midway through 1963.

By July, Kennedy had reached an agreement with the Soviet Union to exclusively conduct nuclear tests underground. By August, government officials from the Soviet Union, the United Kingdom, and the United States gathered in Moscow to sign what is officially known as the “Treaty Banning Nuclear Weapon Tests in the Atmosphere, in Outer Space and Under Water” or “Partial Test Ban Treaty.”

“Let us if we can step back from the shadows of war and seek out the way of peace. And if that journey is 1,000 miles or even more, let history record that we, in this land, at this time, took the first step,” said Kennedy on the agreement in a televised speech on July 26, 1963.

The initial baby tooth study continued through 1970. A research team acquired 85,000 of the tested teeth for a 2001 analysis that concluded 12 children who died of cancer had strontium 90 levels twice as high as others alive during the time of research. Some scientists denounce those findings to this day.

Now, the baby tooth study from decades ago carries new life in the form of a Harvard study. Researchers hope to collect tens of thousands and determine a possible connection between metals and cognitive decline at an older age. Harvard neuroscientist Marc Weisskopf launched the study in 2021, and one survey for the project remains ongoing.

According to a report from, Japanese filmmaker Hideaki Ito is also working on a documentary about the original study and visited St. Louis last year for some groundwork.

January 8, 2023 Posted by | children, radiation, USA | Leave a comment

Large Multinational Study Shows Link Between CT Radiation Exposure and Brain Cancer in Children and Young Adults
December 9, 2022, Jeff Hall

In a new study based on five- to six-year follow-up data from over 650,000 children and young adults who had at least one computed tomography (CT) exam prior to the age of 22, researchers found a “strong dose-response relationship” between increased CT radiation exposure and brain cancer.

Increased cumulative exposure to radiation from computed tomography (CT) exams led to elevated risks for developing gliomas and other forms of brain cancer in children and young adults, according to the findings of a large multinational study of data from over 650,000 patients.

In the study, recently published in the Lancet Oncology, researchers reviewed pooled data from nine European countries and a total of 658,752 patients. All study participants had at least one CT exam prior to the age of 22 with no prior cancer or benign brain tumor, according to the study. Examining follow-up data at a median of 5.6 years, the study authors noted 165 brain cancers (including 121 gliomas). They also found that the overall mean cumulative brain radiation dose, lagged by five years, was 47.4 mGy for the study cohort in comparison to a mean cumulative brain radiation dose of 76.0 mGy for those with brain cancer.

“First results of (the study) after a median follow-up of 5.6 years show a strong dose-response relationship between the brain radiation dose and the relative risk of all brain cancers combined and glioma separately; a finding that remains consistent for doses substantially lower than 100 mGy,” wrote lead study author Michael Hauptmann, Ph.D., a professor of Biometry and Registry Research at the Brandenburg Medical School Theodor-Fontane in Neuruppin, Germany, and colleagues.

For head and neck CT exams, the researchers noted a “significant positive association” between the cumulative number of these procedures and elevated brain cancer risk. Employing linear dose-response modelling, the researchers found a 1.27 excess relative risk (ERR) per 100 mGy of brain radiation dosing for all brain cancers, a 1.1 ERR for gliomas and a 2.13 ERR for brain cancers excluding gliomas, according to the study.

Hauptmann and colleagues acknowledged that the risk estimates in the study translate to one out of 10,000 children experiencing a radiation-induced brain cancer five to 15 years after a head CT exam. However, the researchers also emphasized appropriate caution, pointing out annual estimates of pediatric head CT exams surpassing one million in the European Union and five million in the United States.

“These figures emphasize the need to adhere to the basic radiological protection principles in medicine, namely justification (procedures are appropriate and comply with guidelines) and optimization (doses are as low as reasonably achievable),” added Hauptmann and colleagues.

Study limitations included the potential for confounding indications with the study authors noting the inclusion of studies with some patients having congenital syndromes that may be predisposing factors for brain tumor development. However, Hauptmann and colleagues noted that exclusion of those patients and adjustments for those conditions saw no significant effect on the assessment of ERR.

The study authors also noted a lack of information on other imaging, such as nuclear medicine studies and X-rays, that may have been performed in the study population. However, they suggested the contribution of radiation dosing from these exams “is probably minor” in comparison to higher frequencies and dosing seen with pediatric head CT exams.

December 9, 2022 Posted by | 2 WORLD, children, radiation, Reference | Leave a comment

Missouri Community and Its Children Grappling With Exposure to Nuclear Waste

In the 2022 report, BCDC took 32 soil, dust, and plant samples throughout the school buildings and campus. Using x-ray to analyze the samples BCDC found more than 22 times more lead-210 than the estimated exposure levels for the average US elementary school in the Jana Elementary playground alone. There were also more than 12 times the lead-210 expected exposure in the topsoil of the basketball courts alone.

Radioactive  isotopes of polonium-210radium-266thorium-230, and other toxicants were also found in the library, kitchen, ventilation system, classroom surfaces, surface soil and even soil as far as six feet below the surface. Chanese Forte, December 8, 2022

The families, students, and school officials in Florissant, Missouri have been living a modern nightmare for the past several weeks, learning that Jana Elementary school and the surrounding region has high levels of radiation, a problem caused decades ago by the production of nuclear weapons

Radiation exposure can damage the DNA in cells leading to a host of health problems including cancer and auto-immune disorders. What’s more troubling is that the Centers for Disease Control reports that children and young adults, especially girls and women, are more sensitive to the effects of radiation.

Jana Elementary school has 400 students and a predominantly (82.9%) Black student body. Unfortunately, the United States has a long history of environmental racism which results in harming Black, Indigenous and Brown communities much more in the process of creating and maintaining nuclear weapons.

When science cannot agree, the community suffers

The suburban school north of St. Louis, Missouri, was thought to be safe for students based on research completed in 2000 by the Army Corps of Engineers (USACE).

Specifically, USACE has been in the Coldwater Creek region for the last 20 years attempting to remediate radioactive waste associated with the creek (which does not include Jana Elementary).

Toward the start of the 2022 semester, as part of an ongoing lawsuit in the region the Boston Chemical Data Corp (BCDC), an environmental consulting group, reported the elementary school as having radioactive waste levels far above the estimated national levels.

These radioactive waste exposures—like lead-210—are associated with decreased cognition, brain defects, thyroid disease, and cancer, and can accumulate in the body over time.

Following the BCDC report, all Jana Elementary students were sent home for the rest of the semester in hopes their homes were less toxic.

By the Thanksgiving holiday break, the USACE returned to test inside and on the playground of the school and found no radiation on the campus, news which many community members and organizers unsurprisingly expressed as suspicious.

The School Board then hired SCI Engineering, a private engineering firm, to sample Jana Elementary who came to a similar conclusion as USACE.

Now returning to classes from Thanksgiving break, many wary students joined classes at new schools in the area per the school board’s decision related to BCDC’s radiation exposure assessment. Many parents also expressed to National Public Radio they felt left out of discussions for decisions being made.  

How did radioactive waste end up in Florissant, MO?

The region near Jana Elementary was first contaminated by the US Department of Energy’s decision to make St. Louis one of the processing sites for uranium during the Manhattan Engineering District project. These nuclear weapons were built through World War II and originally stored at the St. Louis Lambert International Airport.

Unfortunately, the waste was later illegally dumped in 1973 at the West Lake Landfill in Bridgeton, MO, which lies about 10 miles Southwest of Jana Elementary. The West Lake Landfill is located near the Mallinckrodt Chemical Works Company which regularly floods, causing these harmful chemicals to be carried away by nearby water ways like Coldwater Creek.

Coldwater Creek runs for 19 miles throughout the area and flows directly into the Missouri River. Jana Elementary, just North of St. Louis, is bordered by the creek on two sides but has to date not been included in any clean-up efforts by the US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE).

US Army Corps of Engineers initially didn’t sample inside or outside of Jana Elementary

Prior to the Boston Chem Data Corp 2022 report, the USACE did not take any samples within 300 feet of the school building in their 2017 assessment. According to BCDC’s report, this doesn’t follow US Agency for Toxic Substances Disease Registry (ATSDR) standards for radioactive sampling.

In fact, it ignores the conclusion ATSDR made that most exposures in the region will be indoors and just outdoors of buildings.

Indoor samples from creek-facing homes in the same neighborhood as Jana Elementary had similar radioactive waste both indoors and outdoors. ATSDR also noted in a 2019 report that radioactive wastes are routinely moved from Coldwater Creek into homes due to flooding. The region floods frequently which is only increasing due to climate change in the region.

New radioactive sampling methods used to understand student exposure

In the 2022 report, BCDC took 32 soil, dust, and plant samples throughout the school buildings and campus. Using x-ray to analyze the samples BCDC found more than 22 times more lead-210 than the estimated exposure levels for the average US elementary school in the Jana Elementary playground alone. There were also more than 12 times the lead-210 expected exposure in the topsoil of the basketball courts alone.

Radioactive  isotopes of polonium-210radium-266thorium-230, and other toxicants were also found in the library, kitchen, ventilation system, classroom surfaces, surface soil and even soil as far as six feet below the surface.

Marco Kaltofen, an environmental engineer who is leading the BCDC team, collected roughly 1,000 samples from across the region as a part of law suit efforts. There are several businesses and homes also indicated as exposed in the lawsuit as well.

Overall, Kaltofen suggests that BCDC’s unprecedented x-ray method better picks up the microscopic radioactive materials. However, he also asserts both studies are essentially saying the same thing, which is of course confusing for many community members.

Community organizers fight for testing and clean-up

Just Moms STL activist Dawn Chapman has worked tirelessly since 2014 to get the federal government to test for radioactive material in more regions where the creek floods.

The co-founder of Just Moms STL, Karen Nickel, also attended Jana Elementary School and has reported currently living with several autoimmune disorders. She uses her experience and love of the area to battle these exposure injustices.

In a 2017 Nation Public Radio report, Ms. Chapman says,

“They [The US Government] fought us for years. Finally, they [tested] parks that had flooded, and found [radioactive waste]. They started testing some backyards and found it. We pushed for Jana Elementary, because it is the closest school to the creek.”   Just Moms STL activist, Dawn Chapman

We reached out to Just Moms STL to understand what the next steps are. Just Moms STL Recommends:

  • The sites in St. Louis should be expeditiously cleaned up.

    Unfortunately, Jana Elementary School is not the only place to be concerned about near St. Louis. 
  • Since remediation of nuclear weapons waste in the area has already taken decades, many of these students will likely age out of Jana Elementary School before there is full remediation of radioactive waste in the St. Louis area.

While there is guidance on defining “safe” or acceptable radioactive exposure levels as it relates to human health, scientists also calculate “expected” levels from the Earth naturally (like radon in sediment).

Unacceptable levels are frequently defined as radiation exposure above natural levels by communities.

  • However, legally the Army Corps is allowed to leave some radioactive residue above naturally occurring levels, and Just Moms STL would like this to no longer be the case.  
  • Residents near nuclear weapon processing sites like the St. Louis area should be included in federal radiation compensation programs, such as the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act (RECA). UCS also suggests consideration of St. Louis in the Energy Employees Occupational Illness Program Act (EEOICPA), and other forms of compensation as well.

Expanding radiation compensation programs is complicated because the list of communities that want to be included who currently qualify is long. Moreover, Just Moms STL says the RECA program needs to be expanded to include processing sites like St. Louis, which has previously only applied to nuclear testing exposure sites and uranium workers, or EEOICPA, which has only covered nuclear site workers, but not surrounding communities.

There are currently two bills being proposed to the House and Senate to extend and strengthen  RECA. Just Moms STL is working to get Missouri elected officials to help sponsor and carry RECA as well. And your representatives may also be interested in supporting adjustments to RECA or the EEOICPA.

December 8, 2022 Posted by | children, radiation, USA, wastes | Leave a comment

Radioactive releases from the nuclear power sector and implications for child health

Selected radioisotopes: where they travel and primarily collect in the body.

 British Medical Journal Paedistrics,Cindy Folkers & Linda Pentz Gunter 9 Oct 22, :

Although radioactivity is released routinely at every stage of nuclear power generation, the regulation of
these releases has never taken into account those potentially most
sensitive—women, especially when pregnant, and children.

From uranium mining and milling, to fuel manufacture, electricity generation and
radioactive waste management, children in frontline and Indigenous
communities can be disproportionately harmed due to often increased
sensitivity of developing systems to toxic exposures, the lack of resources
and racial and class discrimination.

The reasons for the greater susceptibility of women and children to harm from radiation exposure is not
fully understood. Regulatory practices, particularly in the establishment
of protective exposure standards, have failed to take this difference into

Anecdotal evidence within communities around nuclear facilities
suggests an association between radiation exposure and increases in birth
defects, miscarriages and childhood cancers.

A significant number of academic studies tend to ascribe causality to other factors related to diet
and lifestyle and dismiss these health indicators as statistically insignificant.

In the case of a major release of radiation due to a serious
nuclear accident, children are again on the frontlines, with a noted
susceptibility to thyroid cancer, which has been found in significant
numbers among children exposed both by the 1986 Chornobyl nuclear accident
in Ukraine and the 2011 Fukushima-Daiichi nuclear disaster in Japan.

The response among authorities in Japan is to blame increased testing or to
reduce testing. More independent studies are needed focused on children,
especially those in vulnerable frontline and Indigenous communities. In
conducting such studies, greater consideration must be applied to
culturally significant traditions and habits in these communities.

 BMJ Paediatrics 7th Oct 2022

October 9, 2022 Posted by | 2 WORLD, children | Leave a comment

Environmental Ruin in Modern Iraq – largely due to depleted uranium.

In particular, she points to depleted uranium, or DU, used by the U.S. and U.K. in the manufacture of tank armor, ammunition, and other military purposes during the Gulf War and the 2003 invasion of Iraq.

The United Nations Environment Program estimates that some 2,000 tons of depleted uranium may have been used in Iraq, and much of it has yet to be cleaned up.

‘Everything Living Is Dying’: Environmental Ruin in Modern Iraq, Decades of war, poverty, and fossil fuel extraction have devastated the country’s environment and its people. Undark, BY LYNZY BILLING, 12.22.2021 All photos by LYNZY BILLING for UNDARK  ”’,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,   Miscarriages, of course, are common everywhere, and while pollution writ large is known to be deadly in the aggregate, linking specific health outcomes to local ambient pollution is a notoriously difficult task. Even so, few places on earth beg such questions as desperately as modern Iraq, a country devastated from the northern refineries of Kurdistan to the Mesopotamian marshes of the south — and nearly everywhere in between — by decades of war, poverty, and fossil fuel extraction.

As far back as 2005, the United Nations had estimated that Iraq was already littered with several thousand contaminated sites. Five years later, an investigation by The Times, a London-based newspaper, suggested that the U.S. military had generated some 11 million pounds of toxic waste and abandoned it in Iraq. Today, it is easy to find soil and water polluted by depleted uranium, dioxin and other hazardous materials, and extractive industries like the KAR oil refinery often operate with minimal transparency. On top of all of this, Iraq is among the countries most vulnerable to climate change, which has already contributed to grinding water shortages and prolonged drought. In short, Iraq presents a uniquely dystopian tableau — one where human activity contaminates virtually every ecosystem, and where terms like “ecocide” have special currency.

According to Iraqi physicians, the many overlapping environmental insults could account for the country’s high rates of cancer, birth defects, and other diseases. Preliminary research by local scientists supports these claims, but the country lacks the money and technology needed to investigate on its own. To get a better handle on the scale and severity of the contamination, as well as any health impacts, they say, international teams will need to assist in comprehensive investigations. With the recent close of the ISIS caliphate, experts say, a window has opened.

While the Iraqi government has publicly recognized widespread pollution stemming from conflict and other sources, and implemented some remediation programs, few critics believe these measures will be adequate to address a variegated environmental and public health problem that is both geographically expansive and attributable to generations of decision-makers — both foreign and domestic — who have never truly been held to account. The Iraqi Ministry of Health and the Kurdistan Ministry of Health did not respond to repeated requests for comment on these issues……………………….

experts who study Iraq’s complex mosaic of pollution and health challenges say. Despite overwhelming evidence of pollution and contamination from a variety of sources, it remains exceedingly difficult for Iraqi doctors and scientists to pinpoint the precise cause of any given person’s — or even any community’s — illness; depleted uranium, gas flaring, contaminated crops all might play a role in triggering disease……………………………

This is Eman’s sixth year at the hospital, and her 25th as a physician. Over that time span, she says, she has seen an array of congenital anomalies, most commonly cleft palates, but also spinal deformities, hydrocephaly, and tumors. At the same time, miscarriages and premature births have spiked among Iraqi women, she says, particularly in areas where heavy U.S. military operations occurred as part of the 1991 Gulf War and the 2003 to 2011 Iraq War. 

Research supports many of these clinical observations. According to a 2010 paper published in the American Journal of Public Health, leukemia cases in children under 15 doubled from 1993 to 1999 at one hospital in southern Iraq, a region of the country that was particularly hard hit by war. According to other research, birth defects also surged there, from 37 in 1990 to 254 in 2001.

But few studies have been conducted lately, and now, more than 20 years on, it’s difficult to know precisely which factors are contributing to Iraq’s ongoing medical problems. Eman says she suspects contaminated water, lack of proper nutrition, and poverty are all factors, but war also has a role. In particular, she points to depleted uranium, or DU, used by the U.S. and U.K. in the manufacture of tank armor, ammunition, and other military purposes during the Gulf War and the 2003 invasion of Iraq.

The United Nations Environment Program estimates that some 2,000 tons of depleted uranium may have been used in Iraq, and much of it has yet to be cleaned up. The remnants of DU ammunition are spread across 1,100 locations — “and that’s just from the 2003 invasion,” says Zwijnenburg, the Dutch war-and-environment analyst. “We are still missing all the information from the 1991 Gulf War that the U.S. said was not recorded and could not be shared.”

Souad Naji Al-Azzawi, an environmental engineer and a retired University of Baghdad professor, knows this problem well. In 1991, she was asked to review plans to reconstruct some of Baghdad’s water treatment plants, which had been destroyed at the start of the Gulf War, she says. A few years later, she led a team to measure the impact of radiation on soldiers and Iraqi civilians in the south of the country.

Around that same time, epidemiological studies found that from 1990 to 1997, cases of childhood leukemia increased 60 percent in the southern Iraqi town of Basra, which had been a focal point of the fighting. Over the same time span, the number of children born with severe birth defects tripled. Al-Azzawi’s work suggests that the illnesses are linked to depleted uranium. Other work supports this finding and suggests that depleted uranium is contributing to elevated rates of cancer and other health problems in adults, too.

Today, remnants of tanks and weapons line the main highway from Baghdad to Basra, where contaminated debris remains a part of residents’ everyday lives. In one family in Basra, Zwijnenburg noted, all members had some form of cancer, from leukemia to bone cancers.

To Al-Azzawi, the reasons for such anomalies seem plain. Much of the land in this area is contaminated with depleted uranium oxides and particles, she said. It is in the water, in the soil, in the vegetation. “The population of west Basra showed between 100 and 200 times the natural background radiation levels,” Al-Azzawi says.

Some remediation efforts have taken place. For example, says Al-Azzawi, two so-called tank graveyards in Basra were partially remediated in 2013 and 2014. But while hundreds of vehicles and pieces of artillery were removed, these graveyards remain a source of contamination. The depleted uranium has leached into the water and surrounding soils. And with each sandstorm —  a common event — the radioactive particles are swept into neighborhoods and cities.

Cancers in Iraq catapulted from 40 cases among 100,000 people in 1991 to at least 1,600 by 2005.

In Fallujah, a central Iraqi city that has experienced heavy warfare, doctors have also reported a sharp rise in birth defects among the city’s children. According to a 2012 article in Al Jazeera, Samira Alani, a pediatrician at Fallujah General Hospital, estimated that 14 percent of babies born in the city had birth defects — more than twice the global average.

Alani says that while her research clearly shows a connection between contamination and congenital anomalies, she still faces challenges to painting a full picture of the affected areas, in part because data was lacking from Iraq’s birth registry. It’s a common refrain among doctors and researchers in Iraq, many of whom say they simply don’t have the resources and capacity to properly quantify the compounding impacts of war and unchecked industry on Iraq’s environment and its people. “So far, there are no studies. Not on a national scale,” says Eman, who has also struggled to conduct studies because there is no nationwide record of birth defects or cancers. “There are only personal and individual efforts.”…………………..

After the Gulf War, many veterans suffered from a condition now known as Gulf War syndrome. Though the causes of the illness are to this day still subject to widespread speculation, possible causes include exposure to depleted uranium, chemical weapons, and smoke from burning oil wells. More than 200,000 veterans who served in Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere in the Middle East have reported major health issues to the Department of Veterans Affairs, which they believe are connected to burn pit exposure. Last month, the White House announced new actions to make it easier for such veterans to access care.

Numerous studies have shown that the pollution stemming from these burn pits has caused severe health complications for American veterans. Active duty personnel have reported respiratory difficulties, headaches, and rare cancers allegedly derived from the burn pits in Iraq and locals living nearby also claim similar health ailments, which they believe stem from pollutants emitted by the burn pits.

Keith Baverstock, head of the Radiation Protection Program at the World Health Organization’s Regional Office for Europe from 1991 to 2003, says the health of Iraqi residents is likely also at risk from proximity to the burn pits. “If surplus DU has been burned in open pits, there is a clear health risk” to people living within a couple of miles, he says.

Abdul Wahab Hamed lives near the former U.S. Falcon base in Baghdad. His nephew, he says, was born with severe birth defects. The boy cannot walk or talk, and he is smaller than other children his age. Hamed says his family took the boy to two separate hospitals and after extensive work-ups, both facilities blamed the same culprit: the burn pits. Residents living near Camp Taji, just north of Baghdad also report children born with spinal disfigurements and other congenital anomalies, but they say that their requests for investigation have yielded no results.  ………………………………………

December 27, 2021 Posted by | children, environment, Iraq, secrets,lies and civil liberties, wastes, weapons and war | Leave a comment

“Blown to Hell: America’s Deadly Betrayal of the Marshall Islanders” 

Biggest US nuclear bomb test destroyed an island—and this man’s life, By Eric Spitznagel   The US bomb tested near John Anjain’s (right) home in the Marshall Islands in 1954 was 1,000 times stronger than at Hiroshima, and left his wife and kids with debilitating and deadly health problems, as detailed in a new book. November 20, 2021

Just before dawn on March 1, 1954, John Anjain was enjoying coffee on the beach in the South Pacific when he heard a thunderous blast, and saw something in the sky that he said “looked like a second sun was rising in the west.”

Later that day, “something began falling upon our island,” said Anjain, who at the time was 32 and chief magistrate of the Rongelap atoll, part of the Marshall Islands. “It looked like ash from a fire. It fell on me, it fell on my wife, it fell on our infant son.”

It wasn’t a paranormal experience. Anjain and his five young sons, along with the 82 other inhabitants of Rongelap, were collateral damage from a “deadly radioactive fallout from a hydrogen bomb test… detonated by American scientists and military personnel,” writes Walter Pincus in his new book, “Blown to Hell: America’s Deadly Betrayal of the Marshall Islanders” (Diversion Books), out now.

In 1946, the US started testing atomic weapons began in Bikini Atoll, 125 miles west of Rongelap. Known as Operation Crossroads, the tests were moved to the islands from the US because officials feared “radioactive fallout could not be safely contained at
any site in the United States,” writes Pincus.

During those early tests, the Rongelapians were relocated to another island a safe distance away.

But the 1954 test was different. Not only were there no evacuations, but “Castle
Bravo,” as it was dubbed, was also the largest of the thermonuclear devices detonated during the military’s 67 tests, “a thousand times as large as the bomb that destroyed Hiroshima,” writes Pincus.

It took just hours for fallout to reach the shores of Rongelap, where it blanketed the island with radioactive material, covering houses and coconut palm trees. On some parts of the isle, the white radioactive ash was “an inch and a half deep on the ground,” writes Pincus.

The natives, who often went barefoot and shirtless, were covered in the toxic debris. It stuck to their hair and bodies and even between their toes.

“Some people put it in their mouths and tasted it,” Anjain recalled at a Washington DC hearing run by the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee to investigate the incident in 1977. “One man rubbed it into his eye to see if it would cure an old ailment. People walked in it, and children played with it.”

Rain followed, which dissolved the ash and carried it “down drains and into the barrels that provided water for each household,” writes Pincus.

It took three days before American officials finally evacuated the island, taking the natives to nearby Kwajalein for medical tests. Many Rongelapians were already suffering health effects, like vomiting, hair loss, and all-over body burns and blisters. Tests showed their white blood cell counts plummeting, and high levels of radioactive strontium in their systems. No one died, at least not immediately. That would come later.

After three years, the Rongelapians were allowed to return home, assured by officials that conditions were safe. But by 1957, the rate of miscarriages and stillbirths on the island doubled, and by 1963 the first residents began to develop thyroid tumors.

Though they continued to conduct annual medical tests, the US military admitted no culpability, other than awarding each islander $10,800 in 1964 as compensation for the inconvenience.

In fact, some — including the islanders — have speculated that the US government had used the Rongelapians as “convenient guinea pigs” to study the effects of high-level radiation.

For Anjain and his family, the effects were devastating. His wife and four of his children developed cancer. A sixth child, born after the fallout, developed poliomyelitis and had to use a crutch after one of his legs became paralyzed.

But the biggest tragedy befell his fifth child Lekoj, who was just one year old when Castle Bravo covered their island in nuclear dust. As a child, he was mostly healthy, other than the occasional mysterious bruise. Soon after his 18th birthday, Lekoj was flown to an American hospital, where doctors discovered he had acute myelogenous leukemia.

Anjain stayed at his son’s bedside for weeks as he underwent chemo, holding his dying son’s hand and watching him disappear.

He recounted Lekoj’s final days in a letter to the Friends of Micronesia newsletter in 1973. “Bleeding started in his ears, mouth and nose and he seemed to be losing his mind,” Anjain wrote of his son. “When I would ask him questions he gave me no
answer except ‘Bad Luck.’”

Lekoj passed away on November 15, 1972, at just 19. Newsweek called him “the first, and so far only leukemia victim of an H-bomb,” and said his death was proof that nuclear fallout “could be even more lethal to human life than the great fireball itself.”

After burying his son at a spot overlooking Rongelap Lagoon, Anjain continued to battle for financial restitution for his family and other Rongelapian survivors. In 2004, just months before his death (of undisclosed causes) at 81, he marched with 2,000 people in Japan to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the 1954 hydrogen bomb test that slowly killed his son.

In 2007, a Nuclear Claims Tribunal awarded Rongelap more than $1 billion in damages, but not a penny of it has yet been paid. And according to a 2019 Columbia University study, radiation levels on Rongelap are still higher than Chernobyl or Fukushima.

For Anjain, it was never really about the money. “I know that money cannot bring back my son,” he once said. “It cannot give me back 23 years of my life. It cannot take the poison from the coconut crabs. It cannot make us stop being afraid.” 

November 22, 2021 Posted by | children, environment, OCEANIA, Reference, secrets,lies and civil liberties, USA, weapons and war | 1 Comment

The Children Who Suffered When a U.S. Nuclear Test Went Wrong

The Children Who SufferedWhen a U.S. Nuclear Test Went Wrong


In 1954 the U.S. executed its largest nuclear detonation. The people of the Marshall Islands would endure the effects of fallout for years.Walter Pincus Nov. 07, 2021. During the 1954 Castle Bravo test over Bikini Atoll in the Marshall Islands, America executed its largest nuclear detonation, a thousand times more powerful than the bomb dropped on Hiroshima. Nuclear fallout rained down on inhabitants of atolls more than 100 miles away, including Rongelap.

What follows is an excerpt of Blown to Hell: America’s Deadly Betrayal of the Marshall Islanders, where Dr. Robert A. Conard, a former Navy doctor who was among those who first examined the Marshall Island natives after Bravo, discovers a new impact of the radioactive fallout on children. Beginning in 1956, as an employee of the Atomic Energy Commission’s Brookhaven National Laboratory, Conard led annual medical examinations of the Rongelapese.

Over the years, Dr. Robert A. Conard and pediatricians he brought with him to Rongelap carefully watched the slow development of several children who had been exposed to the 1954 fallout. In the survey done in March 1963, the doctors’ attention was initially focused on two boys who had been one-year-olds at the time of the fallout.

Both showed early signs of cretinism, a condition of stunted physical and mental growth owing to a deficiency of a thyroid hormone often related to iodine deficiency.

Also of particular interest was the development of a palpable nodule in the thyroid gland of 13-year-old Disi Tima, a fisherman’s daughter, who had been exposed to the Bravo fallout when she was four years old.

November 9, 2021 Posted by | children, OCEANIA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

COVID Restrictions Deny Southern Belarus Children Rare Escape From Chernobyl Radiation

COVID Restrictions Deny Southern Belarus Children Rare Escape From Chernobyl Radiation

October 20, 2021 Ricardo Marquina. In Belarus, just across the border from Ukraine, many children have been living with chronic radiation sickness since a reactor at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant exploded in 1986. They have returned to school after being unable to escape contamination for yet another summer due to COVID-19 pandemic border restrictions. For VOA, Ricardo Marquina has more from the Gomel region of southern Belarus in this report narrated by Miguel Amaya.

October 21, 2021 Posted by | children, Ukraine | Leave a comment

Birth defects in the Chernobyl region

What about studying consequences rather than causes?  Studying birth abnormalities in places where they occur more often than is normal? The Omni-Net Ukraine Birth Defects Prevention Program, came up with this different approach, reported in July 2012. 

Measuring radiation is difficult, and can produce ambiguous results.  But measuring babies with malformations is a concrete matter. Facts are facts here As Dr Vladimir Wertelecki says “ a baby that has no head is a baby that has no head.”


The program started in 2000, conducting a 10 year study on 5 provinces of the Ukraine – measuring and monitoring all newborn babies. The study, led by Dr  Wertelecki, was done in co-operation with Ukraine health authorities.  This was a descriptive epidemiological study. It could prove only a difference between geographical areas. It cannot  prove the cause of difference.

Within 2-3 years it was obvious that the rates of spina bifida and other defects of the nervous system, were many times greater than expected, particularly in one province.  A few years later an excess of conjoined twins (“Siamese twins”) was found. They found other nervous system problems, mainly microcephaly (tiny head) ..  After 10 years of study they published a report showing an excess of frequency of anomalies of nervous system and of these conjoined twins.

This was found especially in the northern half of the province – an area that is a unique ecology niche – mainly wetlands. And this area also has a unique population, an ethnic group living there since recorded history. They live in small villages, very isolated, and they rely completely on local foods.

These foods are all radioactive. The soil there is such that plants absorb many times more radioactivity. People there are absorbing much higher levels of radiation. – 20 times more than there would be in soil 50 km. away.

Dr Wertelecki reminds us that there are many causes of birth abnormalities. One well recognised cause is foetal alcohol syndrome, due to alcoholism in the mother.   However, the program did in fact research this question.  6 universities joined it in a  very well funded and thorough study of pregnant women. It showed that in this Northern area, alcohol use among pregnant women is statistically less than in the Ukraine in general. . Alcohol does not explain the birth abnormalities. Radiation is the obvious major cause.


Little research has been done on the causes of this in humans. Studies on non human species show that foetuses in first three months are about 1000 times more vulnerable to environmental effects.

Dr Wertelecki’s team focused on teratogenesis – changes caused by environmental interference to a developing foetus, a foetus with with normal genes.  This must be distinguished from gene mutations, inherited from parents and the two processes have different effects.  The genetic, inherited defects are most likely to cause mental disability. But with the teratogenic abnormalities, the baby, if it survives, most often is of normal intelligence.

This process can begin very early, before the ovum has been implanted in the wall of the womb –  before the woman knows that she is pregnant. That very early “line” of the embryo can split. In this case – the result is – twins.  This split can be incomplete – resulting in conjoined twins, (“Siamese twins”).  A  fetiform teratoma is a sort of failed Siamese twin,  a monster like mass, containing a mixture of tissues.

Abnormalities that are started at a little later stage of pregnancy include spina bifida, ( opening in lower back  body wall), opening in front body wall with  heart on the exterior,  anencephaly (absence of head or of most of the skull and brain)

Later effects  –  anophthalmia , (missing eyeball) , microphthalmia (tiny eye)

Full article at

October 9, 2021 Posted by | children, Ukraine | Leave a comment

Thyroid cancer in Fukushima children increased 20-fold — Beyond Nuclear International

In addition to thyroid cancer, other types of malignancies and other diseases triggered or adversely affected by ionized radiation are expected to increase. The FMU thyroid studies represent the only scientific study that can provide any relevant information at all about the health consequences of the Fukushima nuclear disaster. And they are currently in danger of being undermined by the proponents of nuclear energy such as IAEA, which has entered a cooperation with FMU and by the Japanese government, which is trying to dispel any concerns about the meltdowns and nuclear energy as a whole. 

Increases are real and can’t be attributed to “screening effect”

Thyroid cancer in Fukushima children increased 20-fold — Beyond Nuclear International

Latest results of the Fukushima thyroid screenings confirm worrying trend By Dr. Alex Rosen, 23 May 21,

In 2011, people in Japan were exposed to radioactive fallout. Some still live in contaminated regions where they are exposed to elevated levels of radiation on a daily basis: radioactive hot-spots on the side of the road, in rice paddies or in sandboxes, contaminated mushrooms or algae, contaminated groundwater, and recontamination from forest fires or flooding. 

One of the most dreaded effects of radioactive exposure is the development of cancer through mutation of the DNA. Thyroid cancer in children is certainly not the most dangerous form of radiation-induced cancer, but it is probably the easiest to detect. For one thing, the latency periods before a cancer develops are relatively short, while at the same time, thyroid cancer in children is an extremely rare disease, so that even a slight absolute increase can be statistically detected.

Accordingly, in 2011, there was great pressure on Japanese authorities to investigate the development of thyroid cancer in children and adolescents in Fukushima by conducting long-term screening examinations. 

For almost 10 years now, Fukushima Medical University has been regularly examining the thyroid glands of people who lived in Fukushima Prefecture at the time of the meltdowns and were under 18 years of age. Initially, this group consisted of about 368,000 individuals. Of these, 300,000 (about 82%) were successfully screened in the first few years. After the initial screening (2011-2014), follow-up examinations of these children took place every two years. The second examination has already been completed, the third examination is in its final stage, the fourth series of examinations has been running since 2018, and the fifth since 2020.

In the initial investigation in Fukushima, 116 abnormal biopsies were found. Amongst these, 101 cases of cancers were found that were so aggressive that they required surgery. The patients with abnormal biopsies were 6 to 18 years old (average of 14.9 years) at the time of the nuclear disaster. This unexpectedly high number was explained by Fukushima Medical University as a screening effect, the phenomenon of identifying more cases of disease in large-scale screening than would be expected. While the exact magnitude of this screening effect in the first round is unknown, it can be ruled out that the increased cancer rates in subsequent screenings are consequences of a screening effect, because all of these children had already been examined and found to be cancer-free in previous screenings. They must therefore have developed the cancer between the screening examinations. 

In the 2nd screening round, 54 cancer cases were found in 71 abnormal biopsies (age at the time of the nuclear disaster 5-18, average of 12.6 years), in the 3rd screening round, another 27 cases were found in 31 abnormal biopsies (age at the time of the nuclear disaster 5-16, average of 9.6 years), and in the current 4th round, 16 new diagnoses have been made in 27 abnormal biopsies (age at the time of the nuclear disaster 0-12, average of 8.0 years). A total of 46 children with suspicious fine-needle biopsies are still under observation and have not yet undergone surgery. The steadily decreasing average age in the screenings is striking: with time, more and more cancer cases are becoming apparent in patients who were still very young at the time of the nuclear disaster, even under 5 years of age. 

Incidentally, adolescents in the study cohort who turn 25 are excluded from the main study and transferred to a newly created cohort, the “Age 25 Milestone” group. In this group, 4 additional cases of thyroid cancer have been registered, with 7 conspicuous biopsies so far. The number of unreported cases is likely to be much higher: the participation rate in this study is just 8%. The creation of a new study cohort is generally seen as a measure by FMU to further reduce the number of diagnosed cancer cases.

In addition, there are 11 thyroid cancer cases diagnosed in children from the study cohort, but not during the official screenings. These patients were seen and diagnosed at Fukushima University Hospital. These 11 cases are not reported in the official results, although they show identical tumor entities and occurred in patients who are in the actual study cohort. The 11 cases came to light in June 2017. How many more cases have been diagnosed but not reported since then is unknown. In addition, data from other hospitals in Japan are not available, and patients from contaminated areas outside Fukushima Prefecture are not examined at all, so the unreported number of thyroid cancer cases among patients who were children in the contaminated areas at the time of the meltdowns is likely to be much higher. Nevertheless, the total number of thyroid cancer cases in Fukushima currently stands at 213 (198 official cases from the serial examinations, 4 cases from the Age 25 Milestone cohort and 11 cases from the Fukushima University Hospital).

It is interesting to compare these figures with the overall Japanese incidence rate. The official incidence rate of thyroid cancer in children under 25 in Japan is about 0.59 per 100,000 per year, which means that in the cohort of about 218,000 children, about 1.3 new thyroid cancer cases per year would be expected. Today, 10 years after the beginning of the nuclear disaster, just under 13 thyroid cancer cases would thus have been expected in the study population.

However, the actual number of thyroid cancer cases in Fukushima of 213 is higher by a factor of 16. If we consider only the 112 cases diagnosed after the initial screening and thus not suspected to be caused by a screening effect of any kind, the number of confirmed cases is 20 times higher than the number of expected thyroid cancer cases (5.5 new cases after the end of the initial 1st screening in 2014)

In the following graph,  [on original] the officially confirmed thyroid cancer cases (in blue) are compared to the cases expected mathematically in the screening cohort (in orange). It can be seen that the number of cases increased steadily over the course of the initial screening, and continue to increase beyond that, in the years 2014-2020 – an effect that cannot be explained by any kind of screening effect.    [Graph on original explains this]

In addition, the geographic distribution of thyroid cancer rates corresponds to the level of radioactive contamination. A significantly higher incidence of thyroid cancer in children was recorded in the 13 most severely contaminated municipalities in eastern Fukushima than in the less contaminated areas in the north, south and central parts of the prefecture. The incidence was lowest in the western part of the prefecture, where the radioactive fallout was also least pronounced.

In the following graph, [on original] the officially confirmed thyroid cancer cases (in blue) are compared to the cases expected mathematically in the screening cohort (in orange). It can be seen that the number of cases increased steadily over the course of the initial screening, and continue to increase beyond that, in the years 2014-2020 – an effect that cannot be explained by any kind of screening effect.

There seems to be a system behind this trend: Fukushima Medical University, which is in charge of the study, has been sending staff to schools in the prefecture for years to educate children about their “right not to participate” and the “right not to know”. On the study forms, there is now a prominent “opt-out” option for people who wish to be removed from the screening. FMU seems to encourage people to opt out of the study. The drop in participation can also be explained by the removal of people over 25 years from the main study. Are FMU staff concerned that the disturbing trend of increasing numbers of thyroid cancer cases will continue? Are they uncomfortable with data that contradicts the thesis, propagated since the beginning of the nuclear disaster, that the multiple meltdowns would not lead to additional cancers? 

In addition to thyroid cancer, other types of malignancies and other diseases triggered or adversely affected by ionized radiation are expected to increase. The FMU thyroid studies represent the only scientific study that can provide any relevant information at all about the health consequences of the Fukushima nuclear disaster. And they are currently in danger of being undermined by the proponents of nuclear energy such as IAEA, which has entered a cooperation with FMU and by the Japanese government, which is trying to dispel any concerns about the meltdowns and nuclear energy as a whole. 

The people of Japan have an inalienable right to health and to life in a healthy environment. The examination of children’s thyroid glands benefits not only the patients themselves, whose cancers can be detected and treated at an early stage, but also the entire population, which is affected by irradiation from radioactive fallout. 

 The correct continuation and scientific monitoring of thyroid examinations are therefore in the public interest and must not be thwarted by political or economic motives. It is important to continue to critically accompany these developments from the outside.

Dr. Alex Rosen is a pediatrician and Co-Chair of the German affiliate of IPPNW

Note: this article was first published in IPPNW Germany’s member magazine ippnw forum in 03/21

Headline photo showing thyroid cancer by National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI) from Bethesda, MD, USA/Wikimedia Commons

May 24, 2021 Posted by | children, Japan, Reference | Leave a comment

The dark legacy of a nuclear meltdown – The Santa Susana Field Laboratory.

Newsletter: The dark legacy of a nuclear meltdown, and what it means for climate change L.A. Times, By SAMMY ROTH. STAFF WRITER MAY 20, 2021

”………………The Santa Susana Field Laboratory.

Despite growing up in Los Angeles, until recently I knew next to nothing about Santa Susana, which is nestled in the Simi Hills west of the San Fernando Valley. As my L.A. Times colleagues have chronicled, it was a nuclear reactor and rocket engine test facility for decades, and the site of a partial nuclear meltdown in 1959. Today more than 700,000 people live within 10 miles.

Santa Susana is an incredibly toxic site.

 And the parties responsible for the long legacy of radioactive waste and other contaminants — namely Boeing, NASA and the federal Department of Energy — have done hardly anything to clean it up.

“That work was supposed to be completed by 2017. Yet much of it has not even started,” columnist Michael Hiltzik wrote last year.

Santa Susana is also the subject of a new documentary, “In the Dark of the Valley,” which is making the rounds on the film festival circuit. It’s a gut-wrenching story about children living near the field lab who have been diagnosed with cancer, and whose mothers have banded together to demand a full cleanup, in hopes that other families won’t suffer like theirs have.

The film focuses on Melissa Bumstead, whose daughter Grace Ellen was diagnosed with a rare and aggressive form of leukemia at age 4. Bumstead started a petition that has garnered more than 700,000 signatures, calling on politicians including Gov. Gavin Newsom to compel Boeing and the federal agencies to live up to their long-unfulfilled promises.

“I’m not going to stop. So we’ll just have to find out who has more endurance, me or them,” she says in the film’s closing moments. “The thing that’s heartbreaking is that it’s just going to continue. But it’s the kids who have to suffer, and it’s the parents who have to bury them.”

….  there’s been research suggesting that Santa Susana may pose a serious health risk to people nearby.

In 1997, UCLA scientists reported that field lab workers exposed to higher doses of radiation from 1950 through 1993 were more likely to die of cancer. A decade later, University of Michigan researchers found that people living within two miles of the site had been diagnosed with thyroid, bladder and other cancers at a 60% higher rate than people living more than five miles away.

The scope of the contamination far exceeds a single meltdown more than 60 years ago.

Daniel Hirsch — a retired UCLA and UC Santa Cruz lecturer whose students originally uncovered the meltdown, which was hidden from public view for two decades — says there were several accidents at the field lab, worsened by a lack of containment domes for the nuclear reactors. There were shockingly unsafe waste disposal practices too. For years, workers used rifles to shoot barrels of toxic chemicals to make them ignite or explode. Radioactive waste was also routinely burned in open-air pits, Hirsch said.

This was completely illegal. They weren’t supposed to be doing it,” he said

Hirsch runs the anti-nuclear group Committee to Bridge the Gap, and he’s been trying to get Santa Susana cleaned up for more than 40 years. His concerns include the continued presence of cancer-causing chemicals that can seep into groundwater, or be flushed down into the San Fernando and Simi valleys during rainstorms — or become airborne during a wind-driven wildfire.

That was a major worry during the 2018 Woolsey fire, which was ignited by a Southern California Edison electrical line at the field lab. State officials said the wildfire smoke wasn’t any more dangerous to breathe than usual, but Hirsch had a hard time believing that.

“They set up the air monitor two days after the fire,” he said.

……….. Hirsch and many local residents say Boeing and the federal government have repeatedly tried to weasel out of their commitments. And the Department of Toxic Substances Control hasn’t put up much of a fight, critics say. In January, for instance, the agency agreed to confidential talks with Boeing to resolve a dispute over the extent of the cleanup.

Another wrinkle is NASA’s recent decision to nominate the entire field lab for inclusion in the National Register of Historic Places, citing its Native American cave drawings and archaeological relics. Critics fear the historic designation is a thinly veiled attempt by NASA to shirk some of its cleanup obligations, a charge the space agency denies, as my colleague Louis Sahagún reported.

…… I was definitely jarred by Hirsch’s response when I told him I had hiked in the Simi Hills, within a few miles of the Santa Susana Field Lab, and asked whether he would feel safe doing the same. He didn’t hedge. He told me he would not.

“Every area around the site has been found to have contamination,” he said.

May 22, 2021 Posted by | children, environment, incidents, USA | Leave a comment

New study on children, wives and widows of UK nuclear test veterans

Kent Online 18th May 2021, The children, wives and widows of nuclear test veterans in Kent are being
urged to sign up for a ground-breaking study. During the 1950s and 1960s,
around 22,000 British Servicemen – many of them called up for National
Service – witnessed nuclear tests on mainland Australia, the Montebello
Islands off Western Australia and Christmas Island in the South Pacific.

May 20, 2021 Posted by | children, UK, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Thyroid cancer increased 20-fold in Fukushima children

IPPNW 26th April 2021, Dr Alex Rosen: Thyroid cancer increased 20-fold in Fukushima children. In 2011, people in Japan were exposed to radioactive fallout in many places. Some still live in irradiated regions where they are confronted with increased amounts of radiation every day: radioactive hot spots on the roadside, in rice fields or in sandboxes, contaminated fungi or algae, irradiated groundwater and recontamination from forest fires or floods.

One of the most dreaded long-term effects of radioactive exposure is the development of cancers through mutation of the DNA. Thyroid cancer in children is certainly not the most dangerous, but it is the easiest to detect form of radiation-related cancer. On the one hand, the latency periods until the development of a cancerous ulcer are relatively short,only a few years; on the other hand, thyroid cancer in children is anextremely rare disease, so that even a slight increase can be statistically significant. In 2011, the pressure on the Japanese authorities to investigate the development of thyroid cancer in children and adolescents in Fukushima was correspondingly great.

April 27, 2021 Posted by | children, Japan | Leave a comment

Need for more research into causes of increased incidence of childhood lukaemia near nuclear site

National Library of Medicine 15th March 2021,  A previous investigation of the occurrence of childhood acute leukemia around the Belgian nuclear sites has shown positive associations around one nuclear site (Mol-Dessel). In the following years, the Belgian Cancer Registry has made data available at the smallest administrative unit for
which demographic information exists in Belgium, i.e. the statistical sector. This offers the advantage to reduce the potential misclassification due to large geographical scales.

Results confirm an increased incidence of acute childhood leukemia around Mol-Dessel, but the number of cases remains very small. Random variation cannot be excluded and the ecological design does not allow concluding on causality. These findings emphasize the need for more in-depth research into the risk factors of childhood leukemia, for a better understanding of the etiology of this disease.

March 22, 2021 Posted by | children, EUROPE | Leave a comment