An examination of over 60 epidemiological studies confirms the link between increases in childhood leukemia and proximity to a nuclear power reactor. Seventy percent of these studies indicate this link, including studies from the UK, Germany, France and Switzerland.
Difficulty arises when trying to link this leukemia to radiation exposure from these nuclear facilities because the amount of radiation the reactor operators claim these populations are receiving should not, according to current risk models, be high enough to cause health impacts. In fact, the discrepancy is 10,000 fold between official dose estimates and the increased risks which are so clearly shown in these studies.
- First, the cancer increases may be due to radiation exposures from NPP emissions to air.
- Second, large annual spikes in NPP emissions may result in increased dose rates to populations within 5 km of NPPs.
- Third, the observed cancers may arise in utero in pregnant women.
- Fourth, both the doses and their risks to embryos and to fetuses may be greater than current estimate.
- And fifth, pre-natal blood-forming cells in bone marrow may be unusually radiosensitive. The Ecologist
International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (IPPNW) first suggested in 2012 that refueling outages at reactors could be causing in utero health problems because reactors release radiation in larger batches during the year, but get to average this larger dose over the year, making the dose appear to be smaller.
In the US, the National Academy of Sciences is currently determining how best to assess cancer risks from radiation exposures around nuclear facilities here. this meta analysis should provide insight into how to look for such impacts.
The meta analysis, "A hypothesis to explain childhood cancers near nuclear power plants" published in the Journal of Environmental Radioactivity Volume 133, July 2014, Pages 10–17, has not yet received any letters pointing out omissions or errors.