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FIRST STUDY OF IN-BODY RADIATION BEGINS AT THREE MILE ISLAND
Harrisburg, November 14, 2005 – A study of baby teeth measuring levels of Strontium-90, a radioactive chemical found only in nuclear weapons and reactors, has begun near the Three Mile Island nuclear plant.
The study is the first to analyze radioactivity in bodies of persons living near U.S. nuclear plants. The Radiation and Public Health Project (RPHP) research group announced it is seeking donations of baby teeth at a press conference today in Harrisburg.
“This project will accomplish two goals,” said Joseph Mangano RPHP National Coordinator. “For the first time, we can understand how much radioactivity Three Mile Island has added to people’s bodies. And we can also determine if it is contributing to high local cancer rates.” Effects of both the 1979 accident at Three Mile Island’s unit 2, and ongoing operations at unit 1, will be explored.
Infants and children living in Dauphin County, where Three Mile Island is located, have high rates of disease and death, specifically:
- Cancer death rate age 0-9, 1980-2002, 45% above U.S. (35 deaths)
- Cancer incidence rate age 0-14, 1993-2002, 17% above U.S. (86 cases)
- Infant death rate, age 0-27 days, 1979-2002, 23% above U.S. (600 deaths)
- Child death rate, age 1-14, 1979-2002, 13% above U.S. (187 deaths)
- Rate of births under 5 ½ lbs, 2000-2002, 37% above U.S. (994 births)
- Excluding accidents, suicide, and homicide
RPHP began conducting the baby tooth study in 1998. It has tested over 4,500 teeth, mostly from areas near seven U.S. nuclear plants, and has published results in four medical journals. Strontium-90 levels have been consistently found to be highest near nuclear plants, and have risen sharply since the late 1980s. The chemical is released from nuclear reactors and enters the body through breathing, drinking, and eating. It attaches to bone and teeth, where it damages cells, and is most harmful to the infant and fetus.