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.



"Bridgeton, Flint Moms Join Forces vs EPA"

Just Moms STL leaders Dawn Chapman and Karen Nichols during protest in St. Louis in fall of 2015. The group is now headed to Washington to seek help from EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy. (Kevin Killeen/KMOX)As reported by Brian Kelly at CBS St. Louis, Just Moms STL from Bridgeton, Missouri and Water Warriors, including Water You Fight For in Flint, Michigan are standing in solidarity. They are demanding action from U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Gina McCarthy, regarding, respectively: a leaking radioactive waste dump in the flood plain of the Missouri River, upstream of drinking water intakes for metro St. Louis, now at risk from an underground garbage dump fire burning less than 1,000 feet away; as well as the lead-poisoning drinking water catastrophe in Flint, MI resulting from the switch to highly corrosive river water, from Great Lakes water, without performing legally required anti-corrosive chemical treatment.

The groups put out a joint press release entitled "Moms from Flint, MI and St. Louis, MO to Address EPA's Failure to Protect Children and Families."

Also featured at the National Press Club press conference were Ed Smith of Missouri Coalition for the Environment (MCE), and Gail Thackery of Franciscan Sisters of Mary.

In early February, the U.S. Senate passed a bill that would transfer authority from EPA to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, at the West Lake Landfill. As reported by the Washington Post, of great frustration and growing alarm to local residents, EPA has long settled for merely "capping" and abandoning the radioactive wastes in situ, despite the risks of flooding (and now fire), not to mention the risks to public health from leakage that has already taken place over the past 43 years. Advocates like Just Moms STL and MCE have long pushed for ACE to remediate the situation, by cleaning up the site, and removing the wastes to a less vulnerable location. The bill now is before the U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee.

In 2015, Beyond Nuclear board member Kay Drey in St. Louis published a pamphlet, warning about the risks to the drinking water supply of metro St. Louis from the West Lake Landfill. It includes a map, showing that the radioactive wastes at West Lake Landfill are upstream of the drinking water intakes for North County and the City of St. Louis, on the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers.

In a recent edition of the Journal of Environmental Radioactivity, Beyond Nuclear board member Lucas Hixson co-authored a study confirming that radium and uranium had migrated off-site from West Lake Landfill, into neighboring communities.

Regarding the Flint drinking water catastrophe, EPA Region 5 (Midwest) Administrator Susan Hedman resigned on Feb. 1. An EPA whistleblower, Miguel Del Toral, played a very significant role in raising alarms about the lead poisoning of the Flint drinking water supply, but he was largely to entirely "handled" -- in the words of a gloating State of Michigan official, to concerned Flint Mom Lee-Anne Walters, whose four-year-old son Gavin has been lead poisoned -- for many months on end. Walters, who alerted Del Toral to the lack of corrosion control in the first place, was recently awarded the "Momma Bear Award" by the Virginia Tech safe drinking water team that first tested and revealed the extent of Flint's drinking water lead-poisoning, again at Walters' instigation.

Beyond Nuclear recently published an article at Counterpunch entitled "After Flint, Don't Let Them Nuke the Great Lakes Next!", focused on the proposal to dump radioactive wastes on the Great Lakes shore, again with EPA complicity (Ontario Power Generation's DGR, short for Deep Geologic Repository). The Great Lakes are the drinking water supply for 40 million people in eight U.S. states (including, again now Flint, Michigan), two Canadian provinces, and a large number of Native American First Nations.

In recent weeks, in the aftermath of the Flint revelations, EPA Administrator McCarthy sent a nation-wide directive to the entire EPA workforce, calling for EPA employees to raise the alarm regarding matters vital to public health. The agency suppressed and downplayed concerns about Flint raised by Del Toral, not to mention Flint families, keeping the public in the dark for many long months.

As reported by KMOX/CBS St. Louis and mentioned in the joint Moms' press release, Lois Gibbs of the Center for Health, Environment, and Justice, joined the St. Louis and Flint Moms, in their call for positive, protective action from EPA. Gibbs rallied concerned Moms decades ago in Love Canal, NY, to protect endangered children from leaking toxic wastes in their community. Gibbs continues that work today, but now nationwide.

As Beyond Nuclear conveyed in a recent presentation in Port Huron, MI, concerned Moms with sick children have likewise raised alarms about nuclear power's radioactive dangers.

A case in point is the Sauer family in Morris, IL, home to the Dresden nuclear power plant and General Electric-Morris high-level radioactive waste storage facility. After their daughter Sarah, at age 7, was diagnosed with a rare form of childhood brain cancer on April 26, 2001, her mother Cynthia and father Joe devoted years to uncovering what carcinogenic hazards lurked in the area's environment. Their tireless, thankless work significantly helped reveal massive leaks of hazardous trititum into the drinking water supply of Godley Park District, IL -- immediately adjacent to, and downstream from, the Braidwood nuclear power plant.

Exelon Nuclear, as well as the IL EPA, had concealed massive leaks (numerous leaks, measuring in the millions of gallons each) of radioactive tritium into groundwater for a decade.

Thankfully, Sarah Sauer survived, and is in remission. But not all children in her area were so lucky.

Jeremy Whitmore and Valerie Daggett get an assist in saving the Great Lakes from the next generation in Port Huron, MI!Another example of Moms speaking out against radioactive risks comes from Port Huron, MI itself. There, Valerie Daggett, along with her fiancé, Jeremy Whitmore -- recent co-recipients of the Great Lakes Environmental Alliance's "Kay Cumbow Award" for anti-nuclear activism -- organized a rally against the DGR last August. And sure enough, Valerie's little one was smack dab in the middle of the rally (see photo, left)! In this case, the activism is in hopes of preventing a drinking water catastrophe at the DGR.

But of course, such organizing, by Moms and others, to protect children against radioactive dangers, goes back many decades. Women's Strike for Peace began protesting against nuclear weapons testing in the 1950s. They helped convert the likes of Dr. Benjamin Spock to the cause, and assisted the likes of Dr. Barry Commoner with his Tooth Fairy Project, documenting hazardous Strontium-90 build-up in children's teeth, due to nuclear weapons testing fallout worldwide. The work led to passage of the Atmospheric Test Ban Treaty in the early 1960s.

Also standing in solidarity with Flint to protect precious, vital drinking water supplies is the Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition (OVEC), reminding the nation about the Charleston, West Virginia drinking water catastrophe that occurred just two years ago, when toxic chemicals leaked into the Ohio River.

But as famed consumer advocate Erin Brockovich and Environmental Working Group president Ken Cook have warned in a TIME op-ed, "It's Not Just Flint -- American Has a Scary Water Problem."

Nationwide and worldwide solidarity, to protect irreplaceable clean, safe drinking water against toxic and radioactive hazards, must continue for a long time to come.


India’s nuclear nightmare: The village of birth defects

Mithun suffers from physical deformities widely seen among others in the village"Indian court trying to unravel mystery of sick and disabled children, miscarriages and fatal cancers around the country's first uranium mine...

"When mining started in Jadugora, workers went into the bowels of the earth and came up with uranium ore. They dug with shovels, hauled the ore back to the surface in pails. Despite new technologies, hundreds of workers still do that...

"When people began to notice that young women were having miscarriages, witches and spirits were blamed. Prayers were said to ward off the “evil eye.” But people had lesions, children were born with deformities, hair loss was common. Cows couldn’t give birth, hens laid fewer eggs, fish had skin diseases..." The Star


Childhood leukemias increased 37% near nuclear power facilities

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.

The author, Ian Fairlie, (interviewed on Nuclear Hotseat) suggests the following explanations:

  • 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.


Fukushima Medical University handed out KI tablets to its staff, students, but not to public

In a hugely hypocritical move, Fukushima Medical University (FMU), allowed its staff and students to take

potassium iodide tablets in the initial days after the Fukushima nuclear disaster began, but refused to hand them out to members of the public, stating that the radiation doses would not be high enough to warrant such action.

Now, as thyroid cancers and suspected cancers are increasing among children who were possibly exposed to radioactive iodine from the triple meltdown, experts from FMU, particularly Dr. Shunichi Yamashita, are claiming these increases are from increased medical screening for such conditions. Dr. Yamashita is dubbed "Dr. 100 mSv" because he has claimed that anything under this dose is not linked to disease when, in reality, there is no safe dose of radiation according to many experts.

However, FMU's and Dr. Yamashita's tragic decision to withhold KI from the public, while giving it to those associated with the university, could easily be influencing their conclusions regarding the cause of these apparent thyroid cancer increases.

Clearly an independent medical group or institution needs to investigate the causes of thyroid cancer increases, not the institution that could hold some culpability for not preventing them in the first place. Save Children from Radiation


Beyond Nuclear/PSR speaking tour across MI a big success!

Alfred Meyer, PSR board memberAlfred Meyer (photo, left), national board member of Physicians for Responsibility (PSR), spoke throughout Michigan on a tour organized by Beyond Nuclear from Feb. 12-17. His presentations of "Nuclear Power: What You Need to Know about Price, Pollution and Proliferation" were dedicated to the memory of Dr. Jeff Patterson, PSR's Past-President.

Mr. Meyer is Past-President and Secretary of the board of Friends of Chernobyl Centers U.S, which works with Chernobyl Centers for Psycho-Social Rehabilitation (including for children) in five Ukrainian communities greatly affected by the Chernobyl nuclear catastrophe, that began on April 26, 1986.

Alfred's first stop on Feb. 12, at Grand Rapids' Fountain Street Church, drew 35 attendees, despite the wintry weather. Corinne Carey of Don't Waste MI video-recorded the talk, and will post it to cable access t.v. in the near future.

Alfred had a productive day in Kalamazoo on Feb. 13th. His presentation at Western Michigan University (WMU) was attended by over 50 people, and garnered an extended interview by Gordon Evans on WMUK Radio, as well as an article by Yvonne Zipp in the Kalamazoo Gazette. Alfred also spoke at a press conference held at WMU's impressive solar panel array, launching a campus climate campaign to divest the university from fossil fuel investments. Alfred was also interviewed by Dr. Don Cooney, WMU Social Work professor and Kalamazoo City Commissioner, and Dr. Ron Kramer, WMU criminology prof., on "Critical Issues: Alternative Views" t.v. program. The interview will be aired on Kalamazoo cable access in the near future, as well as posted to YouTube.

The tour stop in South Haven (4 miles from Entergy's Palisades atomic reactor) on Feb. 14 drew 25 attendees, despite it being Valentine's Day. Kraig Schultz of Michigan Safe Energy Future--Shoreline Chapter video-recorded the talk, and will post the recording to the MSEF YouTube channel in the near future.

Ferndale in Metro Detroit on Feb. 15 drew 75 attendees. Damon J. Hartley of the Peoples Tribune did a write up and took lots of photos.

Monroe's event (within the 10-mile Emergency Planning Zone from the GE BWR Mark I, Fermi 2, as well as the proposed Fermi 3) on Feb. 16, drew 30 attendees, and garnered coverage in the Monroe News (text, PDF). The Ann Arbor (home base for PSR's new MI chapter) event on Feb. 17 also drew an audience despite an impending winter storm.

Beyond Nuclear has been honored and privileged to work with the following groups to make this speaking tour a success: Michigan Physicians for Social Responsibility; Sierra Club; Fountain Street Church; WMU Lee Honors College; WMU Environmental Studies program; WMU Institute of Government and Politics; Michigan Safe Energy Future (both Kalamazoo and South Haven chapters); Don't Waste Michigan; Ferndale Public Library; Alliance to Halt Fermi 3; Ellis Library; Don't Waste Michigan; Coalition for a Nuclear-Free Great Lakes; and the Ecology Center.