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Title: Childhood leukaemia and nuclear power

Abstract

There has been considerable scientific and media interest in the question of whether the risk of childhood leukemia is raised near nuclear facilities, and, if so, the reasons why. Serious consideration of this issue was initiated by a media report of an unusually large number of cases around the Sellafield installation in England, and reports of excess cases in the vicinity of other facilities in Britain have followed. Detailed radiological assessments have demonstrated that radioactive discharges are most unlikely to have been the cause of these reported excess cases, seemingly contradicting the epidemiological evidence. However, epidemiology is an observational (non-experimental) science, and the results of such studies must be interpreted with considerable care. The influence of prior knowledge of data upon the structure of a study has been a particular inferential problem. Furthermore, there are indications that non-radiological factors may be important in communities near nuclear facilities. Recently, a study has shown an association between childhood leukaemia cases near Sellafield and the recorded occupational radiation doses received by fathers before the conception of these children; but this novel finding has received little independent scientific support. At present, the British childhood leukaemia findings have not been replicated in studies based inmore » other countries, and the reasons for the reported case excesses around British nuclear facilities remain unclear.« less

Authors:
;  [1]
  1. (Health and Safety Directorate, British Nuclear Fuels plc, Warrington (United Kingdom))
Publication Date:
OSTI Identifier:
5838113
Report Number(s):
CONF-920414-
Journal ID: ISSN 0003-018X; CODEN: TANSAO; TRN: 93-022717
Resource Type:
Conference
Resource Relation:
Journal Name: Transactions of the American Nuclear Society; (United States); Journal Volume: 65; Conference: 8. Pacific basin nuclear conference, Taipei (China), 12-16 Apr 1992
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
63 RADIATION, THERMAL, AND OTHER ENVIRON. POLLUTANT EFFECTS ON LIVING ORGS. AND BIOL. MAT.; CHILDREN; LEUKEMIA; STATISTICAL DATA; NUCLEAR POWER PLANTS; EXTERNAL ZONES; DISEASE INCIDENCE; EPIDEMIOLOGY; NUCLEAR POWER; UNITED KINGDOM; AGE GROUPS; DATA; DEVELOPED COUNTRIES; DISEASES; EUROPE; IMMUNE SYSTEM DISEASES; INFORMATION; NEOPLASMS; NUCLEAR FACILITIES; NUMERICAL DATA; POWER; POWER PLANTS; THERMAL POWER PLANTS; WESTERN EUROPE; 560151* - Radiation Effects on Animals- Man

Citation Formats

Berry, R.J., and Wakeford, R. Childhood leukaemia and nuclear power. United States: N. p., 1992. Web.
Berry, R.J., & Wakeford, R. Childhood leukaemia and nuclear power. United States.
Berry, R.J., and Wakeford, R. Wed . "Childhood leukaemia and nuclear power". United States. doi:.
@article{osti_5838113,
title = {Childhood leukaemia and nuclear power},
author = {Berry, R.J. and Wakeford, R.},
abstractNote = {There has been considerable scientific and media interest in the question of whether the risk of childhood leukemia is raised near nuclear facilities, and, if so, the reasons why. Serious consideration of this issue was initiated by a media report of an unusually large number of cases around the Sellafield installation in England, and reports of excess cases in the vicinity of other facilities in Britain have followed. Detailed radiological assessments have demonstrated that radioactive discharges are most unlikely to have been the cause of these reported excess cases, seemingly contradicting the epidemiological evidence. However, epidemiology is an observational (non-experimental) science, and the results of such studies must be interpreted with considerable care. The influence of prior knowledge of data upon the structure of a study has been a particular inferential problem. Furthermore, there are indications that non-radiological factors may be important in communities near nuclear facilities. Recently, a study has shown an association between childhood leukaemia cases near Sellafield and the recorded occupational radiation doses received by fathers before the conception of these children; but this novel finding has received little independent scientific support. At present, the British childhood leukaemia findings have not been replicated in studies based in other countries, and the reasons for the reported case excesses around British nuclear facilities remain unclear.},
doi = {},
journal = {Transactions of the American Nuclear Society; (United States)},
number = ,
volume = 65,
place = {United States},
year = {Wed Jan 01 00:00:00 EST 1992},
month = {Wed Jan 01 00:00:00 EST 1992}
}

Conference:
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  • The report in November 1983 of a cluster of childhood leukemia cases in the vicinity of the Sellafield (Windscale) nuclear facility on the west coast of England has led to a substantial effort to study possible excess cancer in the vicinity of British nuclear installations. Although some additional excesses were found, the causal relationship with radionuclides was thought unlikely because the estimated doses were below those established as causal of increase in human leukemia. Since 1956, we have known that diagnostic x-rays during pregnancy are associated with increased risks from childhood cancer, especially leukemia. Gardner et al. showed that excessmore » cases near Sellafield were in children born there, and no excess occurred among in-migrants. Roman et al. showed that significant elevations in leukemia among children living near three nuclear installations in the Midlands were only at 0-5 y, suggesting that the relevant exposure was prenatal. We identify and discuss a set of epidemiological, dosage estimation, and modeling problems relevant to interpretation of such data. We conclude that: (1) a red bone marrow-based model for brief, high-level exposures of adults associated with myelogenous leukemia is inappropriate for evaluating the impact of internal emitters, relatively continuous exposures in perinatal periods in association with acute lymphatic leukemia; (2) incidence of mortality rates of childhood leukemia should be evaluated in the vicinity of nuclear installations in many countries; and (3) in contrast to nuclear reprocessing and nuclear weapons installations, there is little evidence of excess childhood leukemia among residents in areas adjacent to nuclear power installations in the U.K.« less
  • Although the figures obtained so far are not large enough to show a tendency for irradiation of the fetus to cause one case of leukemia in 40,000 births they do show that the tendency is not very much greater. The incidence of 8 leukemic deaths per 16,948 live births, 1 in 2,118, is slightly higher for Queen Charlotte's Hospital than for the country as a whole but this is due to the much higher incidence of leukemic deaths in the nonirradiated (control) group, 1 in 1,808, compared with the irradiated group, 1 in 4,291, and cannot therefore have been causedmore » by irradiation. (auth)« less
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