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Invisible Dangers of the Nuclear Age


More than 80 radioactive products from nuclear reactors escape into air, soil, water and food and can remain active for millions of years. About 300 existing chemicals also create a radioactive effect during the breakdown process.

More than 80 radioactive products from nuclear reactors escape into air, soil, water and food and can remain active for millions of years. About 300 existing chemicals also create a radioactive effect during the breakdown process.

A byproduct of nuclear fission, strontium 90 (Sr90) is a marker for radiation poisoning. It's extremely carcinogenic. The Tooth Fairy project, headed by Dr Jay Gould, has been analysing lost baby teeth in the United States and hopes to collect Canadian baby teeth as well. Results show that children living within about 150 kilometres of a nuclear reactor have a greater risk of increased Sr90 in teeth.

"We're finding that Sr90 levels in baby teeth of children born since 1990 are reaching levels that were in existence during the above-ground testing years which is very scary," said Dr Janet Sherman, speaker at the World Conference on Breast Cancer in Ottawa 1999.

It takes hundreds of thousands of years for matter to release its radioactivity into the environment and become stable. All radioactive material, even that now tored and "trapped," will mix with the worldwide ecology unless each generation repackages it again and again for 250,000 years.

Prior to 1943, radioactive or "hot" chemicals existed only in trace quantities and in isolated places. This material "ionizes" normal atoms, causing a chain of microscopic events we eventually observe as cancer or birth deformity. Although above-ground weapons testing was terminated in 1963 in order to cut mushrooming radioactivity levels, Sr90 continues to be found in increasing levels in the environment and in human tissues.

Most strontium in baby teeth is transferred to the fetus by the mother during pregnancy. Yellowish, metallic Sr90 goes into bones, tissue and teeth where t remains, continually releasing cancer-causing radiation. Gould says there are only two possible culprits: accidental leaks from nuclear plants or radiation escaping from properly functioning facilities.

"It's much more likely that previous above-ground testing is still affecting this radiation buildup," claims Dr Murray Stewart, chief executive officer of the Canadian Nuclear Association.

Gould disagrees, noting a difference in picocuries, which is a measure of the strength of a radiation source. "The [US] measured the decline in Sr90... from 1964 to 1970... The amount declined by 16 per cent each year... If this had continued thereafter, there would be only trace amounts of Sr90 in baby teeth today, at levels barely measurable, say 0.3 or 0.4 picocuries per gram of calcium. Instead, we found levels as high as two to 17 picocuries per gram of calcium, which could not possibly be attributed to past bomb tests."

Gould also says those living within 150 kilometres of a nuclear facility have a greater risk of breast or prostate cancer or leukemia. Evidence now suggests that 20 times more damage is caused than was suspected at the time the government first set the standard for "acceptable" radiation levels, birth defects, early deaths and cancers.

Speaking contrary to official policy, the late Hal Tracy of Atomic Energy of Canada said that any dose, however "infinitesimally small," has the potential for harm and that eventually, there will be evidence of this harm.

Nobel Prize winner Dr Hermann Muller wrote that unless something is done to stop the dissemination of nuclear radiation, humans will eventually become extinct. He predicted that inherited defects will be magnified in each generation, leading to termination of the family line through eventual infertility or death prior to reproductive age.

Can we protect ourselves? Antioxidants such as vitamins A, C and E and sulphur amino acids cys-teine and glutathione can reduce some free-radical damage caused by cancer radiation therapy if consumed prior to treatment. In theory, this could also help with nuclear radiation. But for real protection for ourselves and for our great grandchildren we must lobby for change. Gathering teeth for Gould's Canadian project is the least we can do.

For details on donating baby teeth, contact Dr Jay Gould directly at (631) 392-2392 or

Smog Causes Heart Problems

A new meta-analysis by Los Angeles researchers suggests that even moderate smog may pose a death threat to people with cardiac problems. Doctors at the Cedar-Sinai Medical Center reviewed more than a dozen animal and human studies. They postulated that tiny, airborne particular matter enters the lungs and causes the nervous system to trigger an irregular heartbeat, an involuntary action which may prove fatal for people with diseased or weak hearts.



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