CHILD CANCER NEAR INDIAN POINT PLANT RISES AFTER STRONTIUM-90 EXPOSURE
Health risk linked to same chemical found in groundwater
Trenton NJ, March 28 – Cancer in children living near the Indian Point nuclear plant rose just four years after increases in radioactive Strontium-90 in bodies of local children were found, according to a new medical journal article released today.
The trend in average Sr-90 levels in 239 baby teeth of Putnam, Rockland, and Westchester County children was similar to that of cancer incidence in local children under age ten. The study, published in the most recent issue of the International Journal of Health Services, follows the recent discovery of Sr-90 in groundwater near Indian Point. Levels of the chemical, found in wells dug while searching for a leak from the plant, are as much as three times above the federal limit for drinking water.
“The study of Strontium-90 in baby teeth is evidence that what was found in groundwater is also escaping into the environment and may be harming local children” says Joseph Mangano of the Radiation and Public Health Project (RPHP) and author of the study. This is the 22nd medical journal article published by Mangano and his RPHP colleagues.
Sr-90 is a chemical produced only in nuclear reactors and weapons explosions. It enters the body through breathing and the food chain, and attaches to bone and teeth, where it remains for many years. Sr-90 is radioactive and cancer-causing, and is especially harmful to infants and children.
Some critics of the RPHP tooth study have maintained that all Sr-90 in the body of children is leftover fallout from above-ground atomic weapons tests in Nevada, which ended in 1963. But Mangano points out that average Sr-90 in baby teeth near Indian Point is 36% greater than other New York State teeth, further from the plant. Moreover, the average level rose 56% from the late 1980s to the late 1990s. Both findings strongly suggest that most Sr-90 in baby teeth represents Indian Point releases, not old bomb fallout.
In 2001, Westchester County legislators appropriated $25,000 to RPHP to support the study of Sr-90 in baby teeth, the only study of radiation in bodies of Americans living near nuclear plants.
The article was presented at a press conference at the New Jersey state capitol in Trenton today. Rising childhood cancer rates just four to five years after increased Sr-90 in baby teeth were also documented near the Oyster Creek plant in central New Jersey and the Brookhaven National Laboratories in Long Island.