- NEW YORK
(Reuters) - Higher-than-expected
levels of a man-made, cancer-causing
element first introduced as a by-product
of nuclear bomb tests has been
found in baby teeth collected near nuclear
power plants in three
states, U.S. researchers said Thursday.
- Directors of the non-profit
Radiation and Public Health
Project (RPHP) said at a news conference
that levels of the element, radioisotope
Strontium (Sr-90), should have
dropped to almost zero once all global aboveground
nuclear bomb testing
ended in 1980.
- Most of the 515 teeth analyzed were from the 1979-1992
and had similar concentrations of Strontium-90 as those found in
children in the mid-1950s when the U.S. and the Soviet Union were still
doing atmospheric nuclear bomb tests, according to initial findings of
a RPHP study.
- ``There is cancer-causing Strontium-90 in children's
shouldn't be there,'' Dr Ernest Sternglass, Professor Emeritus
Radiological Physics at the University of Pittsburgh said in releasing
the initial findings of independent laboratory analysis conducted on 515
baby teeth from New York, New Jersey and Florida.
- RPHP said the chemical
structure of Strontium-90 is similar
to calcium and the body is
deceived by it and deposits Sr-90 in bones and
teeth where it remains,
emitting cancer-causing radiation.
- RPHP directors attributed some
of the radioactivity to
accidents such as the Three Mile Island reactor
in Pennsylvania in 1979
and the Chernobyl reactor disaster in 1986.
They said state and federal
records showed a large amount of airborne
emissions in the early 1980s
from four nuclear reactors located near
Suffolk County, New York.
- ``If it is not underground testing or aboveground
clearly the prime suspects are nuclear reactors or nuclear
Sternglass said. ``The world has become too small
for nuclear accidents
to affect only the 10-mile zone of
- RPHP is calling for a national study by the U.S. government.
said a private foundation is supporting RPHP's plans to collect and
analyze 5,000 baby teeth from across the country in ``nuclear'' and
- The teeth for the RPHP study were collected as part of
the ''Tooth Fairy Project,'' an appeal to parents by actor Alec Baldwin
to send in baby teeth they put under their children's pillows for the
Fairy'' after they fell out. Baldwin, a resident of Suffolk
County on Long
Island where RPHP focused part of its study, said he
sent out 15,000 letters
toparents in February 1999.
- ``The initial
findings are disturbing,'' Baldwin said
at the news conference. He
added that ``the same results (as in the mid-50s)
should merit the same
level of concern.''
- Strontium-90 was linked to childhood cancer during the
1950s, causing health concerns that led to President John F. Kennedy
the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty with the Soviet Union in 1963
tests in the atmosphere, in outer space and under
water. France and China
continued aboveground testing until