Baby teeth clues to 'nuclear cancer'

Thursday, April 5, 2001

US scientists want British parents to keep their children's baby teeth to help them test a link between nuclear power and cancer.

They claim that children who live near nuclear power stations could be at a greater risk of cancer, and that the teeth will reveal how much radioactivity they have received.

But the drive has been condemned as "junk science" by one power company in the US.

Professor Ernest Sternglass, professor of radiology at the University of Pittsburgh Medical School, has launched "Operation Tooth fairy" to look into the links, but say they need the baby teeth from children living near power stations in Britain, particularly in Somerset and Essex to compare the data.

Research in South Florida claims that children there are three times more likely to get cancer than those in other parts of America, although the source of the cancers has yet to be established.

However, a similar study among baby teeth found exceptionally high levels of the radioactive carcinogen Strontium 90.

They found the highest levels among children who live down-stream or down-wind from Miami's Turkey Point power station.

Professor Sternglass said: "We found to our amazement and shock that the levels of strontium 90 per gram of calcium in the teeth of new born as high as it was at the height of nuclear bomb testing."

Claims dismissed
The scientists believe the Strontium 90 is carried down-wind in the water droplets within clouds, then causes contamination when it falls in rain.

Professor Sternglass expects British children's teeth to show similarly high levels because of our wet and damp climate.

There are calls in Florida for the nuclear power stations to lose their licences following this research, but the power stations strongly denied any links.

Rachel Scott, of Florida Power and Light, dismissed the scientists' claims.

"I think this is junk science - these folks have a conclusion and they are trying to fit the data to support that conclusion - and it is just not so."

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