Federal study finds no link between nuclear sites and childhood cancer

By Jennifer Langston
Copyright 1998 Idaho Falls Post Register
October 9, 1998

Children whose fathers were exposed to low levels of radiation at three Energy Department sites, including the INEEL, do not have an increased risk of developing childhood cancer, a federal study has found.

The $750,000 study, paid for by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, compared 233 children with cancer at the three sites to 932 healthy children.

The study was designed to determine whether the children with cancer were more likely to have fathers who received radiation doses from the sites.

"Our one-word answer from this study is no," said epidemiologist Barbara Grajewski, with the national institute.

The results of the five-year study were presented Thursday to workers at the Idaho National Engineering and Environmental Laboratory and to the public.

The study also looked at cancer cases in counties surrounding the Hanford Nuclear Reservation in Washington and the Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee.

NIOSH decided to fund the research after a 1990 study in England found children with leukemia were more than six times as likely to have fathers exposed to radiation at a nuclear facility.

But Grajewski said that startling correlation has not been found in five subsequent studies of radiation workers.

The latest study found 62 children who were diagnosed with cancer in Bannock, Bingham, Bonneville, Butte, Jefferson and Madison counties between 1957 and 1991. Only three of those children had fathers who received radiation from the INEEL.

The study included children with leukemia, non-Hodgkins lymphoma and central nervous system tumors.

INEEL and environment reporter Jennifer Langston can be reached at 522-1800, ext. 3246, or via e-mail at jlangston@idahonews.com.

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