Tooth Fairy comes to Britain
Report from Radioactive Times
Volume 4, Number 1, June 2000 (content not updated)
Link to "How you can help"
The Radiation and Public Health Project in America has invited LLRC to take part in a new study of radioactivity in children's teeth.
The study may have profound implications for the future of nuclear emissions policy, in the same way as an earlier study helped to secure the 1963 test ban treaty. In 1958 dentists in St. Louis, concerned about increasing fallout from nuclear bomb tests, began collecting baby teeth to ascertain strontium-90 levels. It was soon clear that there had been statistically significant, geometric increases since 1951. More than 60,000 teeth were collected. By 1965 they indicated a fifty-fold increase since 1951.
The findings were supported by a UN study of post mortem measurements of strontium-90 in adult bone. By the 1960s, at least two dozen nations were surveying strontium-90 in children's teeth. This is more instructive than adult autopsies, because birthdates provide a better indication of when the burden of Sr-90 was acquired. All the published studies tell a similar story; peak levels were reached in 1964-5, as rainfall washed out the huge amounts of Sr-90 released by massive hydrogen bomb tests of 1962.
In the 1970s, Sr-90 in baby teeth dropped back to about the same level reached in 1958. Studies published by Denmark and Japan were continued until the early 1980s, and suggested that levels flattened out in the 1970s, followed by a slight upturn.
However, a study of some 6,000 German baby teeth collected since 1992 by the German Section of the International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War found a tenfold increase in the teeth of German children born after Chernobyl (April 1986), as compared with children born in 1983. RPHP has translated these results. (The RPHP has a website at www.radiation.org)As each tooth is received, information for the child is loaded into our database, and coded for anonymity. The teeth are then sent to America to be analysed for levels of strontium, plutonium and lead using advanced scintillation techniques.
The new study is directed by Dr. Ernest J. Sternglass, Professor Emeritus of Radiological Physics at the University of Pittsburgh Medical School and Senior Associate of the RPHP. It will replicate the IPPNW protocols, in securing the birthdate and place of birth of each child.
The Baby Teeth Study is particularly interesting as a recent paper showed that levels of plutonium in the teeth of British children depend on how far from Sellafield they live. BNFL is funding a re-analysis of the data from that study.
As an independent check, LLRC will match levels from the Baby Teeth Study with known sources of contamination and with official data for the geographical distribution of various diseases. Early results in America show markedly higher levels in the teeth of children living downwind of nuclear facilities.
Sea coast effect
The very first results from the study of Sr-90 in teeth in the USA were discussed by Ernest Sternglass and LLRC at a meeting in London last year. Professor Sternglass was excited to learn that Green Audit's research had shown a profound sea coast cancer incidence effect in the narrow 1000 metre strip in north Wales. He said that his baby teeth exhibited a similar effect. Teeth from children living close to the sea on the east coast of the US had significantly higher Sr-90 content than those from children inland. This is an exciting finding as, hitherto, both Green Audit and Sternglass and Gould had been working on the link between weapons fallout and rainfall; what happened after the fallout fell out had not been discussed. Sternglass's baby teeth results will be discussed in the next RaT.
LLRC is seeking funding for a well advertised campaign. In the meantime you can make a start by sending your children's teeth. (They are destroyed during analysis, so we cannot return them).
Instructions on how to help are on this site
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