Advisory BoardResearch Associates Rosalie Bertell, PhD, GNSHAgnes Reynolds, RN Samuel S. Epstein, MDJanette Sherman, MD William Reid, MDSusanne Saltzman, MD
The following is a statement by Joseph J. Mangano
Joseph J. Mangano, MPH, MBA, is Director, Secretary, and the Executive Director of the Radiation and Public Health Project.
Mr. Mangano is a public health administrator and researcher who has studied the connection between low-dose radiation exposure and subsequent risk of diseases such as cancer and damage to newborns.
He has published numerous articles and letters in medical and other journals in addition to books, including Low Level Radiation and Immune System Disorders: An Atomic Era Legacy. There he examines the connection between radiation exposure and current widespread health problems.
RISING LOCAL CANCER RATE SUGGESTS LINK WITH FERMI REACTOR
January 14, 2009 - The cancer death rate in Monroe County has been rising since the late 1980s, when the Fermi 2 nuclear reactor began operating, according to a new analysis.
The rise in cancer has been sharpest among children and adolescents, who are most susceptible to the harmful effects of radiation exposure. The analysis uses official data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
"The increasing cancer death rate among Monroe County residents, especially young people, suggests a link with the radioactive chemicals emitted from the Fermi reactor," says Joseph J. Mangano MPH MBA, Executive Director of the Radiation and Public Health Project research group. "Because Monroe County has a low risk population that is well educated, high income, and has few language barriers, rising cancer rates are unexpected, and all potential causes should be investigated by health officials."
Fermi 2 reactor began “operating” June 21, 1985. However, it ran very little after the initial low-power start-up until a warranty run in January of 1988, marking the commercial start-up of the reactor. In the early 1980s, the Monroe County cancer death rate was 36th highest of 83 Michigan counties, but by the early 2000s, it had moved up to 13th highest. From 1979-1988, the cancer death rate among Monroe County residents under age 25 was 21.2% below the U.S. rate. But from 1989-2005, when Fermi 2 was fully operational, the local rate was 45.5% above the U.S.
All nuclear reactors produce electricity by splitting uranium atoms, which creates high energy needed to heat water. This process also creates over 100 radioactive chemicals, not found in nature, including Strontium-90, Cesium-137, and Iodine-131.
While most of these chemicals are retained in reactors and stored as waste, a portion is routinely released into the local air and water. They enter human bodies through breathing and the food chain, and raise cancer risk by killing and injuring cells in various parts of the body. They are especially harmful to children.
The findings come at a time when a new nuclear reactor has been proposed at the Fermi plant. The original Fermi 1 reactor, which was the site of a “Partial Core-Melt Accident” in 1966, shut permanently in 1972.
DATA ON CANCER RISK FROM FERMI 2 RADIOACTIVE EMISSIONS
- The Fermi 2 reactor is located in Monroe County, and started on June 21, 1985, not becoming fully operational until January 1988.
- Fermi 2 came close to a meltdown on March 28, 2001 and August 14, 2003. (1)
- Fermi 2, like all reactors, routinely emits over 100 radioactive chemicals into air and water.
- Each of these chemicals causes cancer, and is most harmful to infants and children.
- For cancer deaths for all ages (whites only), Monroe County ranked
36th highest of 83 Michigan counties in 1979-1983 (before startup) 13th highest of 83 Michigan counties in 2000-2005 (latest data) (2)
- The Monroe County cancer death rate age 0-24
was 21.1% below the U.S. in 1979-1988 (before/during startup) was 45.5% above the U.S. in 1989-2005 (after startup) (3)
Monroe County has no obvious cancer risk. It has a high income, low poverty, well educated population with few language barriers and access to excellent medical care in nearby Detroit. (4) Thus, an increase in cancer (especially to children) is unexpected. This change should be investigated, and one potential cause should be radioactive emissions from Fermi.
1. Fermi 2 incurred “near miss” accidents on March 28, 2001 (emergency diesel generator was inoperable for over 7 days) and August 14, 2003 (loss of offsite power due to northeast blackout). Source: Greenpeace USA. An American Chernobyl: Nuclear “Near Misses” at U.S. Reactors Since 1986. www.Greenpeace.org, April 26, 2006.
2. U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, http://cdc.wonder.gov, underlying cause of death. Death rates are adjusted to 2000 U.S. standard population. Includes ICD-9 codes 140.0-239.9 (1979-1983) and ICD-10 codes C00-D48.9 (2000-2005). Whites account for over 95% of Monroe residents.
3. Cancer Death Rates, Monroe County vs. U.S.
1979-1988 and 1989-2005, age 0-24
Monroe CountyDeaths/100,000 Pop. PeriodCancer DeathsAvg. Pop. Monroe U.S. %vs. US 1979-198822 56,2343.91 4.96- 21.2% 1989-200542 51,4074.86 3.79+45.5%
Source: U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, http://cdc.wonder.gov, underlying cause of death.
Includes ICD-9 codes 140.0-239.9 (1979-1983) and ICD-10 codes C00-D48.9 (2000-2005). Increase in rate significant at p<.05.
4. Demographic Comparison, Monroe County vs. U.S.
2006 Population 155,035299,398,484 2000 % Foreign Born 1.911.1 2000 % Language other than English 4.017.9
spoken at home, age 5+
2000 % High School graduates, age 25+ 83.180.4 2000 % Homeownership 81.066.2 2004 Median Household Income $53,838$44,344 2004 % Below Poverty 8.712.7
Source: U.S. Census Bureau, www.census.gov, 2000 population, State and County Quick facts