The Baby Teeth Study
Dr. Janette Sherman, M.D., Internist and Toxicologist addresses environmental problems at Hunter's Point, San Francisco. She also speaks about the Baby Teeth Study - Tooth Fairy Project and radioactive Strontium-90 (Sr-90). (Radiation and Public Health Project)
An earlier study showed that radioactivity in baby teeth rose rapidly due to fallout from atomic bomb tests above the Nevada desert in the 1950s and 1960s, a time when childhood cancer rates were also rising. This information was instrumental in the 1963 ban of aboveground tests by the United States and Soviet Union. The federal government withdrew finding for the study in 1970, and no longer collects information on how much radioactivity is entering our bodies.
Specifically, the Baby Teeth study measures levels of radioactive Strontium-90 (Sr-90), a known carcinogen released by nuclear facilities. The chemical structure of Sr90 is so similar to that of calcium that the body gets fooled and deposits Sr-90 in the bones and teeth, where it remains continually emitting cancer-causing radiation. During pregnancy, Sr-90 is transferred from the mother to the fetus and ends up in the baby's teeth and bones, at the time of birth. To determine where radioactivity was absorbed from the environment, we need to know where the mother lived during pregnancy and where the baby was born.
Please help us by sending RPHP one or more of your child's baby teeth in the envelope specially designed for the study. Answer the questions on the envelope; wrap the tooth in tissue paper; place it inside the envelope; fold and seal the envelope; place 39 cents postage on the envelope; and mail it to RPHP.
For this study to be statistically significant, we need at least 5,000 teeth from all parts of the country. So please help. Every tooth is a clue! Answers to questions about radiation, public health and the study are on the other side of this flyer.
What is Strontium-90 (Sr-90)?
Are tiny Amounts of Strontium-90 Dangerous to Human Health?
What has the Study Found?
Can the Radiation in Baby Teeth be from Past Bomb Tests?
Will I get the Results of the Study? Will I get my Teeth Back?
How Can I Protect Myself from Radiation in the Environment?
How many Teeth are Needed and From Where? From What Years?
How Can I Make a Contribution to the "Tooth Fairy Project"?
CANCER-CAUSING RADIOACTIVE MATERIAL FOUND IN CALIFORNIA CHILDREN'S TEETH
Sacramento and San Luis Obispo, California - Cancer-causing radioactive Strontium-90 (Sr-90) has been found in the teeth of children born in the 1980s and 1990s at levels equal to those of the middle 1950s, when the U.S. and the former Soviet Union were conducting routine aboveground nuclear bomb tests. Based on 34 San Luis Obispo County teeth tested, it was found that, after the Diablo Canyon nuclear reactors began full operation in 1985, levels of radioactive Strontium-90 (Sr-90) rose by a substantial 50% in local baby teeth, reported Drs. Jay Gould and Ernest Sternglass, directors of the Radiation and Public Health Project's ("HP) national baby teeth study. Today, RPHP released the initial California results of the national baby teeth (the "Tooth Fairy Project"), which has tested nearly 1500 U.S. children's teeth for levels of radioactive Strontium-90.
Joseph Mangano, National Coordinator, RPHP, also announced that actor Alec Baldwin is sending letters t 10,000 California families living in the San Luis Obispo and Sacramento areas, asking for donations of baby teeth to the "HP "Tooth Fairy Project." The Project hopes to collect and test 1,000 California teeth for levels of Strontium-90, a radioactive chemical and known carcinogen released into the environment by nuclear weapons testing and the operation of nuclear power plants.
The baby teeth study researchers said that their findings indicate that Americans continued to absorb radiation for years after all U.S. atmospheric nuclear testing ended in 1980. Scientific reports based on the early findings of the RPHP Baby Teeth Study have been published, in Fall 2000, in several peer-reviewed medical and environmental journals, including The International Journal of Health Services, Archives of Environmental Health, and the European Journal of Oncology.
These radiation levels are cause for concern," said Dr. Ernest Sternglass, Professor Emeritus of Radiological Physics at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, and co-director and chief scientist of the study.
Dr. Sternglass played a key role in the scientific debate that led to the original banning of bomb tests in 1963. "The levels of Strontium-90 should have dropped down to near zero once humankind stopped exploding nuclear weapons in the atmosphere. Instead, the levels staved essentially the same as during the mid-] 950s bomb-test years, or in some areas they even increased."
Rising childhood cancer and leukemia rates caused widespread health concerns during the Eisenhower and Kennedy administrations, eventually resulting in the historic 1963 Nuclear Test Ban Treaty between the U.S. and the U.S.S.R. Today, RPHP researchers are seeing increases in childhood cancer and cancer clusters in areas with high levels of Strontium-90 in baby teeth.
After reaching a peak in 1964, Strontium-90 levels in the U.S. declined steadily, but did not disappear entirely, due to ongoing French and Chinese aboveground testing as well as releases from U.S. and U.S.S.R. underground testing and from a growing number of civilian reactors. With the end of French and Chinese atmospheric bomb tests in 1980, however, the projected rate of decline should have dropped Strontium-90 levels to near zero by 1990, according to Dr. Jay M. Gould. Dr. Gould is a director of RPHP and a statistician who previously served on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Scientific Advisory Board
"The fact that were finding Strontium-90 at much higher levels than projected indicates that the dangers from environmental radiation in our food, soil, and water were not eliminated with the cessation of atmospheric bomb testing," Dr. Gould said. "These findings suggest that new releases of radioactive Strontium-90 have been entering the human environment during the 1980s and 1990s, probably coming from nuclear power reactors."
"Regardless of the source of this radiation, it is clear that more investigation is needed," Dr. Sternglass said. "It is especially urgent given that Strontium-90 is a known carcinogen and a marker for other shorter-lived fission products, and simply should not be present at all in our children's teeth.'
Joseph Mangano, RPHP National Coordinator, said that, "the Tooth Fairy Project plans to collect 1,000 teeth from California, as part of a national baby teeth study." For baby teeth mailing envelopes, people can call RPHP toll free at 800-5823716, or visit our web site at: www.radiation.org
Californians who are supporting the baby teeth study include: Mothers for Peace in San Luis Obispo; Bernice Kring in Sacramento, and Leuren Moret in the San Francisco Bay Area.
The California Baby Teeth Study is supported by a grant from the Zimmer Family Foundation, of Fremont. California, headed by George Zimmer, CEO of the Men's Wearhouse, a national men's tailored clothing chain.
There is mounting evidence that cancer rates may be significantly affected by radioactive leaks and officially permitted releases from nuclear power plants, such as the Rancho Seco reactor near Sacramento and Diablo Canyon reactors near San Luis Obisbo.
Breast Cancer Death Rate Rises - The death rate for breast cancer among women over 65 more than doubled in San Luis Obispo County six years after the Diablo Canyon plant began full commercial operation in 1985. The death rate climbed from far below the U.S. rate in 1980 to an all-time high in 1990, far above the U.S. rate.
Breast Cancer Death Rate Declines - In sharp contrast, when the Rancho Seco plant near Sacramento and San Francisco was closed in 1989, the breast cancer death rate declined sharply in both cities. The Sacramento breast cancer death rate for this over-65 age group decreased 34% by 1997 from its 1989 record high, and that for San Francisco fell by 31% in the same period. The U.S. rate declined by only 8% during these years.
Childhood Leukemia and Cancer Rise - From the period 1985-89, when the first large airborne radioactive releases were reported at the Diablo Canyon nuclear plant, to the years 1990-98, the cancer/leukemia death rate for children under 15 in San Luis Obispo County rose by 97%. Santa Barbara County to the south rose 54% and Monterey County to the north rose 37%.
Childhood Leukemia and Cancer Decline - For the same period, the cancer/leukemia death rate for children under 15 declined 13% in the four counties of Sacramento, Amador, El Dorado and Placer combined. This is the area where childhood cancer rates began to decline after the Rancho Seco reactor was closed in 1989.
Improvements in Infant and Child Health - Childhood cancer, overall infant deaths, and deaths due to birth defects (long known to be caused by radiation) also declined more rapidly in the Sacramento area, after Rancho Seco was permanently closed, than in the U. S.
Rise of Strontium-90 (Sr-90 in San Luis Obispo Baby Teeth - After the Diablo Canyon rectors began full operation in 1985, Sr-90 levels rose by a highly significant 50% in local baby teeth.
California Baby Teeth Study - California may hold the key to our national Baby Teeth Study. Here we can trace both how cancer rates rise when nuclear plants open -- and how they decline when this source of radioactive pollution is removed. Measurements of Strontium-90 (Sr-90) in the teeth are proof of cancer-causing fission products in the body of the mother and child at the time of birth.
For more information: The Radiation and Public Health Project (RPHP) https://radiation.org
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