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The human sex odds at birth after the atmospheric atomic bomb tests, after Chernobyl, and in the vicinity of nuclear facilities
Nuclear power generation, accidents, and atomic testing have all affected boy/girl birth ratios. While it has disproportionately affected the birth rate of girls, it has also lowered the overall birthrate.
Hagen Scherb & Kristina Voigt l 19 February 2011 Springer-Verlag
Background, aim, and scope Ever since the discovery of the mutagenic properties of ionizing radiation, the possibility of birth sex odds shifts in exposed human populations was considered in the scientific community. Positive evidence, however weak, was obtained after the atomic bombing of Japan. We previously investigated trends in the sex odds before and after the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant accident. In a pilot study, combined data from the Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Hungary, Norway, Poland, and Sweden between 1982 and 1992 showed a downward trend in the sex odds and a significant jump in 1987, the year immediately after Chernobyl. Moreover, a significant positive association of the sex odds between 1986 and 1991 with Chernobyl fallout at the district level in Germany was observed. Both of these findings, temporality (effect after exposure) and dose response association, yield evidence of causality. The primary aim of this study was to investigate longer time periods (1950–2007) in all of Europe and in the USA with emphasis on the global atmospheric atomic bomb test fallout and on the Chernobyl accident. To obtain further evidence, we also analyze sex odds data near nuclear facilities in Germany and Switzerland.
Data and statistical methods National gender-specific annual live births data for 39 European countries from 1975 to 2007 were compiled using the pertinent internet data bases provided by the World Health Organization, United Nations, Council of Europe, and EUROSTAT. For a synoptic re-analysis of the period 1950 to 1990, published data from the USA and from a predominantly western and less Chernobyl-exposed part of Europe were studied additionally. To assess spatial, temporal, as well as spatial–temporal trends in the sex odds and to investigate possible changes in those trends after the atomic bomb tests, after Chernobyl, and in the vicinity of nuclear facilities, we applied ordinary linear logistic regression. Region-specific and eventually changing spatial–temporal trends were analyzed using dummy variables coding for continents, countries, districts, municipalities, time periods, and appropriate spatial–temporal interactions.
Results The predominantly western European sex odds trend together with the US sex odds trend (1950–1990 each) show a similar behavior. Both trends are consistent with a uniform reduction from 1950 to 1964, an increase from 1964 to 1975 that may be associated with delayed global atomic bomb test fallout released prior to the Partial Test Ban Treaty in 1963 and again a more or less constant decrease from 1975 to 1990. In practically all of Europe, including eastern European countries, from 1975 to 1986, and in the USA from 1975 to 2002, there were highly significant uniform downward trends in the sex odds with a reduction of 0.22% to 0.25% per 10 years. In contrast to the USA, in Europe there was a highly significant jump of the sex odds of 0.20% in the year 1987 following Chernobyl. From 1987 to 2000, the European sex odds trend reversed its sign and went upward, highly significantly so, with 0.42% per 10 years relative to the downward trend before Chernobyl. The global secular trend analyses are corrobo- rated by the analysis of spatial–temporal sex odds trends near nuclear facilities (NF) in Germany and Switzerland. Within 35 km distance from those NF, the sex odds increase significantly in the range of 0.30% to 0.40% during NF operating time.
Conclusions: The atmospheric atomic bomb test fallout affected the human sex odds at birth overall, and the Chernobyl fallout had a similar impact in Europe and parts of Asia. The birth sex odds near nuclear facilities are also distorted. The persistently disturbed secular human sex odds trends allow the estimation of the global deficit of births in the range of several millions.
Dr. Wladimir Wertelecki on birth defects caused by Chernobyl and how nuclear power devastates human health
Dr. Helen Caldicott interviews Dr. Wladimir Wertelecki on If You Love This Planet radio.
Listen hear or go to If You Love This Planet Radio to listen, download, or stream.
[This week’s guest is Wladimir Wertelecki, the founder and chairman of the Department of Medical Genetics and Birth Defects Center of the University of South Alabama, in the U.S. Prior to his training in Medical Genetics at Harvard University Medical School, Dr. Wertelecki trained in Pediatrics at St. Louis Children’s Hospital, Washington University. Later, he served as Senior Surgeon, U.S. Public Health Commission Corps at the Epidemiology Branch of the National Cancer Institute in Bethesda, Maryland. Dr. Wertelecki is a Diplomate of the American Board of Pediatrics and member of the Academy of Pediatrics, and since 1994, he has served as Secretary-Treasurer of theWorld Alliance for the Prevention of Birth Defects. He has extensively studied the effects of the radiation released by the Chernobyl meltdown on public health, particularly in children, and discusses his findings with Dr. Caldicott. As background, read the July 2012 article Geneticist charts effects of nuclear disasters, and Dr. Wertelecki’s study Malformations in a Chornobyl-Impacted Region. Also listen to Dr. Caldicott’s interview with Janette Sherman, M.D. on the studies indicating nearly one million people have died as a result of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster.
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Doctor's studies offer more clarity on the issue of radiation-related birth defects in children. After Chernobyl "most health investigations were focused on cancer induced by radiation, but Wertelecki initiated population studies concerned with ongoing child development, especially birth defects, which continue to this day.
Wertelecki: "It is not the scale of a nuclear accident itself that makes a human disaster it is the response by officials afterward and the public panic produced. The public should not be treated as idiots and told only the 'good half' of the story, as is often done by official agencies. People have the right to know, the need to believe those who are in charge."
Wertelecki is not alone in questioning extrapolation of atomic bomb impact study results from Hiroshima and Nagasaki to all nuclear accidents. And his work supports concern in Japan about the effect on children and pregnant women due to a contaminated food supply. His concerns, shared by many, include not only birth defects now and in the near future but also the long term impact on future generations due to radiation's mutagenic properties.
The impact of the bombs was external radiation, which was intense but short-lived, said the physician. The impact of Chernobyl and Fukushima-Daiichi is ongoing and radiation still in the environment is inhaled or swallowed, leading to accumulation in the body. One mushroom eaten in affected areas may deliver as much radiation as hundreds of chest x-rays, he concluded.
Resources: Article- Pediatrics, Wertelecki, 2010 www.pediatrics.org/cgi/content/full/125/4/e836
Public release date: 1-May-2012 Experts write on the risks of low-level radiation
Los Angeles, CA (May 01, 2012) – Each time a release of radioactivity occurs, questions arise and debates unfold on the health risks at low doses—and still, just over a year after the disaster at the Fukushima Nuclear Power Station, unanswered questions and unsettled debates remain. Now a special issue of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, published by SAGE, examines what is new about the debate over low-dose radiation risk, specifically focusing on areas of agreement and disagreement, including quantitative estimates of cancer risk as radiation dose increases, or what is known as the linear non-threshold theory (LNT). The issue, which includes essays written by the top experts in their fields, does not claim to put the argument to rest—however, it does provide an indispensible update of the existing literature.
As Jan Beyea, guest editor and nuclear physics and epidemiology expert, says: "The reader will be ready to join the debate armed with a broad-based view of the epidemiologic evidence and its differing interpretations, along with an awareness of the stakeholder and researcher landscape." Beyea personally contributes to the issue and deconstructs the low-level radiation debate, unpacking all its parts and illuminating what deserves more attention and scrutiny...
From 1st of May, the articles are free of charge for one month and can be accessed at http://bos.sagepub.com/. Members of the media can sign up for complimentary subscriptions by firstname.lastname@example.org for details.
Is compulsory radiation exposure now to be the "new normal?" This is an infringement on so many rights. Not to mention contributing to public health risk. To do this at all flies in the face of medical knowledge (not to mention 4th amendment rights). To do this in secret, and without regulation is completely unacceptable.
U.S. law enforcement agencies are exposing people to radiation in more settings and in increasing doses to screen for explosives, weapons and drugs. In addition to the controversial airport body scanners, which are now deployed for routine screening, various X-ray devices have proliferated at the border, in prisons and on the streets of New York.
Not only have the machines become more widespread, but some of them expose people to higher doses of radiation. And agencies have pushed the boundaries of acceptable use by X-raying people covertly, according to government documents and interviews.
While airport scanners can show objects on the surface of the body, prisons have begun to use X-rays that can see through the body to detect contraband hidden in cavities. U.S. Customs and Border Protection is in the process of deploying dozens of drive-through X-ray portals to scan cars and buses at the border with their passengers still inside.
International Journal of Cancer: Childhood leukemia around French nuclear power plants – the Geocap study, 2002-2007
Counterpunch l Joe Mangano 22 December, 2010
Baby Tooth Science
The atom bomb tests over the Nevada desert are etched in the American consciousness, even though they ended nearly half a century ago. The clouds that looked like gigantic mushrooms rising into the stratosphere remind us of the Cold War-era American-Soviet race to test and manufacture as many nuclear weapons as possible to fight what many felt would be an inevitable nuclear war.
Those days are gone. The Cold War is over. Stockpiles of nuclear weapons are shrinking. All-out nuclear war, while still possible, is no longer regarded as inevitable. And testing has ended – in the atmosphere and below the ground. Thus, it is tempting to think of bomb tests as a relic of history, with no current relevance.
But the tests ARE relevant. The Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty of 1996, ratified by 153 countries, has still not been endorsed by the U.S. Senate, or other atomic nations. Thus, testing could legally resume at any time. Moreover, research on health hazards of test fallout is far from complete.
Some want to close the book on bomb test studies, citing the age of the tests and the difficulty of understanding health risk. But measuring risk is possible, thanks to - of all things - baby teeth.
Houston, you have a problem. Alpha radiation found in drinking water. In some places, higher than the legal government limit which is high already. Safe dose? There is none.
KHOU.com l Mark Greenblatt / 11 News I-Team Chief Investigative Reporter December 21, 2010
HOUSTON—A draft of a soon-to-be-released federal report shows radiation in Houston’s drinking water is much more widespread than city leaders previously disclosed to the public.
KHOU-TV has learned that the United States Geological Survey, which is a part of the U.S. Department of the Interior, met with Houston officials in September to present the preliminary findings of a report they do not plan to publicly release until next month.
Those findings, as summarized in a chart created by the USGS and presented to Houston officials, reveal radiation is present in some amount in nearly every Houston groundwater well the USGS tested this spring. That finding is similar to a recently released chapter of the ongoing USGS study, which was based on 28 tests the USGS performed in 2007 and 2008. The USGS concluded, after examining those older tests, that "radioactivity generally was detectable in the water samples."
As the clock runs out on industry claims that low levels of radiation are not harmful, Dr.s begin speaking out to the contrary, and demanding action.
On several occasions in recent years uranium mining companies have brought guest speakers to Australia to argue that low-level radiation exposure is not only harmless but actually good for you. To promote such marginal views without any counter-balance is self-serving and irresponsible and it may be time for governments to step in to provide that balance.
Recent research has heightened rather than lessened concern about the adverse health impacts of low-level radiation. Moreover the latest science - concerning the health impacts of exposure to radon gas - is important in the context of the ongoing debate over uranium mining in Australia.
In 2009, the International Commission on Radiological Protection (ICRP) stated that radon gas delivers twice the radiation dose to humans as originally thought and is in the process of reassessing permissible levels. At this stage, previous dose estimates to miners need to be approximately doubled to accurately reflect the lung cancer hazard...
Doug Brugge is a Professor of public health and community medicine at Tufts University who grew up in the Southwest- uranium mining country. But it was a newspaper article on Navajo health that got him interested in the medical dangers of uranium mining.
Prof. Brugge followed up this interest by doing an oral history project documenting the swath uranium mining has cut through the Navajo community, and has done follow-up studies examining this devastation. He speaks of the difficulties of doing such studies, and his ongoing commitment to education on this subject, particularly that of the impact of uranium mining on reproductive health.
Read article about Doug Brugge and his work.