ENVIRONMENTAL RADIATION FROM NUCLEAR REACTORS
AND INCREASING CHILDREN'S CANCER
IN SOUTHEASTERN FLORIDA
A SPECIAL REPORT ON THE FLORIDA BABY TOOTH STUDY
The Radiation and Public Health Project
March 28, 2001
RPHP Research Associates
Jay M. Gould, Ph.D., Director
Ernest J. Sternglass, Ph.D., Chief Scientist Jerry Brown, Ph.D.
Joseph Mangano, MPH, MBA
William McDonnell, MA
Marsha Marks, ACSW, LCSW
Janette Sherman, MD
Operations at the
four nuclear reactors in southeastern Florida (Turkey Point 3 and
4, and St. Lucie 1 and 2) have added considerable radioactivity to
the local environment, raising concerns of whether local residents
have been harmed. The Radiation and Public Health Project (RPHP)
research group has investigated this issue, and has documented facts
that suggest such harm is occurring. A number of these findings have
been published in peer-reviewed medical journals.
Emissions, Environmental Levels, In-body Levels
1970-87, Turkey Point and St. Lucie emitted 10.39 trillion picocuries
of radioactivity into the air.
1985 to 1995, the level of radioactive chemicals in Miami precipitation
remained constant, suggesting that a current source of emissions
(nuclear power reactors) was supplementing and offsetting the decay
of fallout from old atomic bomb tests.
concentrations of radioactive Strontium-90 in 86 Dade County baby
teeth tested by RPHP have been rising since the early 1980s. The
current level is equal to that in the late 1950s, when the U.S.
and the Soviet Union conducted large-scale nuclear weapons tests
in the atmosphere.
County and other southeastern Florida baby teeth have the highest
levels of radioactive Strontium-90, a known carcinogen, than anywhere
in the U.S. where baby teeth have been studied. In addition, the
area also has a rate of childhood cancer that is considerably higher
than the US average.
the 1950s, breast cancer mortality rose significantly in the counties
near the Turkey Point and St. Lucie reactors (up 26% near Turkey
Point, up 55% near St. Lucie, compared to a 1% US increase).
the early 1980s to the early 1990s, cancer incidence in children
under 10 rose 35.2% in five southeastern Florida counties, compared
to a 10.8% rise in the US Children are especially sensitive to
the carcinogenic effects of radioactivity.
five southeastern Florida counties are: Broward, Dade, Martin,
Palm Beach, and St. Lucie.
the same period, from the early 1980s to the early 1990s, an enormous
325.3% increase in childhood cancer took place in St. Lucie County,
increasing the current rate in this area to more than double the
the 1990s, the cancer death rate in young adults age 15-34 in these
five southeastern Florida counties has risen, in contrast to a
decline in the US Increases were particularly large for breast
cancer and bone and blood cancers, each especially sensitive to
Dade County, childhood cancer rises after radioactivity levels
in precipitation rise, and declines after levels drop. This is
strong evidence that exposure to radioactivity is one cause of
childhood cancer in southeastern Florida.
Opening and Closing
1983-84, when the Turkey Point reactors were mostly closed for
repairs, infant deaths in Broward and Dade Counties fell 19.1%,
compared to only 6.4% in the US The following two years, when Turkey
Point returned to full power, the local infant death rate rose
1983-84, the first two years that the St. Lucie 2 reactor operated,
infant deaths in St. Lucie County rose 35.3%.
findings are consistent with the large declines in infant deaths
near eight out of eight US reactors that closed since 1987.
recent evidence suggesting that radioactive chemicals emitted from
Turkey Point and St. Lucie are one cause of rising cancer rates
in southeastern Florida is significant and merits more detailed
Tooth Fairy Project will provide critical data on levels of in-body
radioactivity, which will allow researchers to better understand
the link between environmental radiation and cancer, especially
in young persons. The Project is especially important in southeastern
Florida, which has the highest levels of Sr-90 in baby teeth of
any US area analyzed to date and above-average childhood cancer
on the radiation-cancer link should be considered in federal policies
regulating the operation of nuclear reactors, in southeastern Florida
and across the US.
on the radiation-cancer link should be considered in the US Nuclear
Regulatory Commission's environmental review of utility applications
to renew and extend the licenses of aging nuclear power plants
in Florida and across the US.
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