Academic journal article Environmental Health Perspectives

Childhood Leukemia in Germany: Cluster Identified near Nuclear Power Plant

Academic journal article Environmental Health Perspectives

Childhood Leukemia in Germany: Cluster Identified near Nuclear Power Plant

Article excerpt

Childhood leukemia clusters have been observed at a number of sites near European nuclear facilities. With the identification of the largest cluster to date, a new German study underscores the need to clarify the association [EHP 115:947-952; Hoffmann et al.].

Between February 1990 and May 1991, five cases of leukemia were diagnosed in children living within 5 kilometers of the Krummel nuclear power plant in Geesthacht and a neighboring nuclear research operation along the Elbe River in northern Germany. By 2005, another nine cases of leukemia had been discovered in the area. Most of the cases were acute lymphatic leukemia in males under five years of age.

Several expert commissions investigated, and found moderate levels of cesium in rainwater and air samples, along with plutonium and americium in household dust near the plant. There was also some evidence of chromosomal damage to lymphocytes among the local population. One panel deemed these observations consistent with fallout from a possible accident at the research facility that would have to have occurred around September 1986, but so far no such accident has been proved. Another panel suggested instead that chance or population mixing--the commingling of local people with newcomers from various places--might have caused the cluster. …

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