Children and Health

Children are among the most vulnerable to - and least protected from - radiation exposure. Current "acceptable" exposure standards in the U.S. are based on "Standard Man" - i.e., a robust young male. This does not take into account the more serious effects of radiation exposure to pregnant women and children in particular, including to the unborn. Beyond Nuclear supports efforts to change these standards.



"We aren't prepared for something like this" -- Ohio school next to uranium enrichment facility closed after radioactive contaminants detected

As reported by CNN, Newsweek, WLWT Cincinnati, the ExchangeMonitor, and a growing number of news outlets, radioactive contaminants detected at the Zahn's Corner Middle School in Pike County, Ohio, (photo, above) located very near the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Portsmouth Gaseous Diffusion Plant, has led to the school's abrupt closure, and caused deep concern about the children's health, and contamination of other area homes, surface waters, etc. The Pike County General Health District published a press release. There is concern that DOE's highly controversial on-site radioactive waste and contamination disposal activities have liberated fugitive dust clouds, contaminated with hazardous radioactivity, causing the now-detected fallout downwind. Despite this, and frantic community concern, especially regarding the impact on children's health, DOE is refusing to suspend the operations, claiming more data is needed. 
As concerning as environmental contamination by Uranium-235 (and other uranium isotopes, for that matter) is, even more deeply concerning has been the detection of trans-uranics, such as neptunium, americium, and plutonium isotopes in the surrounding community and workforce, as well as fission products like artificial, radioactive cesium and technetium isotopes. The puzzling question is, where could such post-reactor irradiation hazardous radioactive contaminants have come from, at a uranium enrichment facility?

DOE's Portsmouth Gaseous Diffusion Plant, a facility located in Scioto Township, Pike County, Ohio, just south of Piketon, Ohio, previously produced enriched uranium, including highly-enriched, weapons-grade uranium for the United States nuclear weapons program, as well as low-enriched uranium, for nuclear power reactor fuel. Uranium straight from the mines would not contain such post-reactor irradiation trans-uranics and fission products. While DOE may try to deceptively claim that such elements are the result of atmospheric nuclear bomb testing global fallout, another explanation could well be that DOE "recycled" uranium, post-reprocessing, contaminated with such high-level radioactive waste ingredients.  
After all, this is exactly what happened at Portsmouth's sibling facility, the Paducah Gaseous Diffusion Plant, downstream on the Ohio River in Kentucky, as revealed by the Washington Post's Joby Warrick in 1999. Such contamination in Paducah caused a deadly cancer epidemic, and other diseases, among the facility's workforce, and in neighboring communities. See an August 11, 1999 article by Warrick, as well as an August 8, 1999 article by Warrick.
Beyond Nuclear's Alliance for Nuclear Accountability coalition partners, Coalition for Health Concerns in the Paducah area, and Portsmouth/Piketon Residents for Environmental Safety and Security (PRESS), have long watch-dogged these DOE facilities on behalf of their communities. (See ANA DC Days entry, below.) In more recent years, grassroots watch-dogs like the Ohio Sierra Club Nuclear-Free Committee have successfully fought back against attempts to do uranium centrifuge enrichment at the Portsmouth site (see this Dayton Daily News article from Nov. 14, 2006; and see another article from the same publication), and even centralized interim storage for commercial irradiated nuclear fuel, a precursor to reprocessing, as proposed by the George W. Bush administration DOE's "Global Nuclear Energy Partnership" a decade ago. 

Decision time for St. Louis’ radioactive waste

Kay Drey, Beyond Nuclear board presidentOp-ed by Kay Drey (photo, left), Beyond Nuclear's board president, in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

Also see Kay's pamphlets about the West Lake Landfill, "The Safety of St. Louis Drinking Water Depends on You!!" and "Remove the Radioactive Wastes NOW!!".

As Kay points out, the Manhattan Project radioactive wastes at the West Lake Landfill are among the very oldest of the Atomic Age, and all these decades later, we don't even know what to do with the first cupful! And as is so often the case, as shown in the tragic photo accompanying her op-ed above, as well as a Beyond Nuclear pamphlet, and palm card, it is children (and women, pregnant women and the fetus in the womb, and other highly vulnerable populations, including the elderly, immune-compromised, etc.) who very often bear the worst brunt of the radioactive health hazards.

As reflected in the op-ed above, as well as her cameo in the powerful documentary film "Atomic Homefront," Kay is the institutional memory of such nuclear watch-dogging as at West Lake Landfill. Her vigilance has persisted for 45 years.


Federal health officials agree radioactive waste in St. Louis area may be linked to cancer

As reported by CBS News.

RT's Ashlee Banks interviewed Beyond Nuclear's Kevin Kamps about this news.

After the ATSDR report was published, Beyond Nuclear did a post going into more detail on the Cold Water Creek and West Lake Landfill radioactive contamination disaster in metro St. Louis, MO.


Flint’s lead-poisoned water had a ‘horrifyingly large’ effect on fetal deaths, study finds

As reported by the Washington Post:

The fertility rate in Flint, Mich., dropped precipitously after the city decided to switch to lead-poisoned Flint River water in 2014, according to a new working paper.

That decline was primarily driven by what the authors call a “culling of the least healthy fetuses” resulting in a “horrifyingly large” increase in fetal deaths and miscarriages. The paper estimates that among the  babies conceived from November 2013 through March 2015, “between 198 and 276 more children would have been born had Flint not enacted the switch in water,” write health economists Daniel Grossman of West Virginia University and David Slusky of Kansas University...

The change in Flint amounted to a 58 percent increase in fetal deaths, relative to areas not afflicted by lead-poisoned water, a change the authors characterized as “horrifyingly large.”

The hazards of ionizing radioactivity, and the toxic heavy metal lead, have a lot in common. For one thing, fetuses are the most vulnerable life stage to ionizing radioactivity's hazards, just as they are to lead. 

Beyond Nuclear published an article in Counterpunch in Jan. 2016, entitled "After Flint, Don't Nuke the Great Lakes Next." It focused on Ontario Power Generation's insane scheme to bury the province's "low" and "intermediate" level radioactive wastes, less than a mile from the waters of Lake Huron.

As the Post article above reports, Flint switched back to healthy Lake Huron water, after the Flint River drinking water catastrophe. But if OPG's DGR (Deep Geologic Repository) opens, and leaks, people downstream would be harmed -- and fetuses are most at risk. 

40 million people, in eight states, two provinces, and a large number of Native American First Nations, draw their drinking water from the Great Lakes.


Iraqi-American Doctor Who Revealed Flint Water Crisis Slams Trump & Travel Ban at March for Science

As reported by Democracy Now!

Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha's scientific research, and courage to make it immediately public, given the high stakes for the health of 9,000 Flint children -- a large percentage of them children of color, as well as children of low income families -- has been widely praised. In fact, TIME magazine named her as one of its 100 Most Influential People for 2016.

In January 2016, after Dr. Mona's revelations had garnered international news headlines about the Flint drinking water catastrophe, Beyond Nuclear published an essay at Counterpunch ("After Flint, Don't Let Them Nuke the Great Lakes Next!"), pointing out the links between the Flint drinking water lead poisoning, and another potential catastrophe in the offing not far from Flint -- Ontario Power Generation's (OPG) proposal to dump all of the province's so-called "low" and "intermediate" level radioactive wastes, from 20 reactors, on the Lake Huron shoreline. Tens of millions of people draw their drinking water from the Great Lakes, downstream from OPG's proposed Deep Geologic Repository at the Bruce Nuclear Generating Station.