Cancer mortality and morbidity among plutonium workers at the Sellafield plant of British Nuclear Fuels.
The mortality of all 14 319 workers employed at the Sellafield plant of British Nuclear Fuels between 1947 and 1975 was studied up to the end of 1992, and cancer incidence was examined from 1971 to 1986, in relation to their exposures to plutonium and to external radiation. The cancer mortality rate was 5% lower than that of England and Wales and 3% less than that of Cumbria. The significant excesses of deaths from cancer of the pleura and thyroid found in an earlier study persist with further follow-up (14 observed, 4.0 expected for pleura; 6 observed, 2.2 expected for thyroid). All of the deaths from pleural cancer were among radiation workers. For neither site was there a significant association between the risk of the cancer and accumulated radiation dose. There were significant deficits of deaths from cancers of mouth and pharynx, liver and gall bladder, and larynx and leukaemia when compared with the national rates. Among all radiation workers, there was a significant positive association between accumulated external radiation dose and mortality from cancers of ill-defined and secondary sites (10-year lag, P = 0.04), leukaemia (no lag, P = 0.03; 2-year lag, P = 0.05), multiple myeloma (20-year lag, P = 0.02), all lymphatic and haematopoietic cancers (20-year lag, P= 0.03) and all causes of death combined (20-year lag, P= 0.008). Among plutonium workers, there were significant excesses of deaths from cancer of the breast (6 observed, 2.6 expected) and ill-defined and secondary cancers (29 observed, 20.1 expected). No significant positive trends were observed between the risk of deaths from cancers of any specific site, or all cancers combined, and cumulative plutonium and external radiation doses. For no cancer site was there a significant excess of cancer registrations compared with rates for England and Wales. Analysis of trends in cancer incidence showed significant increases in risk with cumulative plutonium plus external radiation doses for all lymphatic and haematopoietic neoplasms for 0-, 10- and 20-year lag periods. Taken as a whole, our findings do not suggest that workers at Sellafield who have been exposed to plutonium are at an overall significantly increased risk of cancer compared with other radiation workers. (+info)
Ethical requirements for occupational health research--compliance arrangements for a single company in relation to a recent major nuclear industry study.
The media coverage given to occupational health studies in the field of ionizing radiation has, on occasion, been the cause of very real distress to radiation workers and their families. In response to this situation the Chief Medical Officers of the major UK nuclear companies developed an ethical policy for future involvement in research, based on the duty of care which researchers owe to a key customer of such studies: the worker. The policy consists of four principal elements: medical confidentiality; worker information; worker consent and the guarantee of the availability to the workers of pre-publication knowledge of the results. The policy issued in 1991/92 has achieved growing acceptance among researchers and medical journals, though the medical officers involved have been aware of some scepticism, particularly in relation to the practicalities of the dissemination of pre-publication information. The Record Linkage Study published in November 1997 marked a major piece of research work involving data from 120,000 radiation workers that had been carried out since the development of the policy. This paper reports on the successful compliance arrangements to meet the ethical requirements of that study within a single UK nuclear company, and is published to demonstrate that with commitment from researchers, the journal and occupational health staff such ethical requirements, and particularly the need for pre-publication information can be met in full. (+info)
Radiological states around the Kraton-4 underground nuclear explosion site in Sakha.
A radiological survey around the site of Kraton-4, an underground nuclear explosion (Yield of 20 kt, depth of 560 m, 1978) in Sakha was carried out in March 1998. Gamma survey and in-situ spectroscopy on the ground exhibited quite normal levels: a dose rate of 0.022 microSv/h and Cs-137 surface contamination of less than 1.1 kBq/m2 around the hypocenter. The results suggested no remarkable leakage of radioactivity from the epicenter to the ground surface at least not for non-rare gas elements as of 1998. (+info)
Nuclear industry family study:methods and description of a United Kingdom study linking occupational information held by employers to reproduction and child health.
OBJECTIVE: To describe the methods used in the nuclear industry family study for which a comprehensive database has been assembled that links employment in the nuclear industry and dosimetry records to information on employees' reproductive health and the health of their children. To discuss the response rates and characteristics of the study population. METHODS: Occupational cohort design leading to a retrospective cohort study of reproductive outcomes reported by 46 396 current and former employees of both sexes in the nuclear industry. Employees of nuclear establishments in the United Kingdom operated by the Atomic Energy Authority, the Atomic Weapons Establishment, and British Nuclear Fuels were surveyed with postal questionnaires ot collect information on pregnancies, children,and periods of infertility. Information on employment and monitoring for ionising radiation was supplied by the employing nuclear authority and was linked to pregnancies and periods of infertility with unique personal identification numbers. RESULTS: The design and completion of this study resulted in high quality data on a representative population of the Atomic Energy Authority, Atomic Weapons Establishment, and British Nuclear Fuels workforces. The response to the survey was extremely good (82% for male workers and 88% for female workers, excluding undelivered questionnaires), and a unique relational database has been created which will enable infertility, pregnancy, and child health outcomes to be examined with respect to the employment and radiation monitoring characteristics of parents. CONCLUSION: This is the first United Kingdom study to link detailed reproductive history data to occupational information held by employers. The methods developed for the study were found to be feasible and successful. The design can be adapted for other investigations of reproductive hazards to men and women in the workplace and is currently in use to survey over 100 000 armed forces personnel in an investigation of reproductive outcome among veterans of the Gulf war. (+info)
Epidemiological response to a suspected excess of cancer among a group of workers exposed to multiple radiological and chemical hazards.
OBJECTIVE: An excess of cancer was suspected by workers of the metallurgy department at the French Atomic Energy Commissariat (CEA) after several deaths from cancer were reported in 1983 and 1984. After a descriptive study performed by the CEA in 1985 the results of which were not conclusive enough to put an end to the controversy, the present cohort study was undertaken in 1989. METHODS: As no specific exposure, or a precise cancer site was suspected, it was decided to include all subjects who had worked at the metallurgy department for at least 1 year between 1950 and 1968. The cohort was followed up to 31 December 1990. Individual occupational exposures were determined retrospectively for each year from 1950 to 1990, both qualitatively (annual job, and hazard records, and assistance from former workers) and quantitatively (for external radiation). On the basis of these exposures, three types of occupational tasks were identified: handling of chemicals, radionuclides, and external radiation. Standardised mortality ratios (SMRs) were calculated to estimate the risk of death, and the existence of an association between risk of cancer and each of the three tasks was tested. RESULTS: The cohort included 356 workers, followed up for an average of 30 years (total of 10,820 person-years). The number of deaths from all causes and from all cancer sites were respectively 44 and 21. No excess of cancer deaths was found for the study period (SMR 0.77), nor was there a peak in 1983-4. The risk of death from all cancer sites increased with the duration of exposure to chemicals. CONCLUSION: The results do not justify the workers' impression of an excess of cancer. They suggest, however, that the duration of work at some tasks that involved handling chemicals may be an indicator of risk of cancer. Communication to the workers during the study played an important part in reducing their concern, contributing to their better understanding of the results. (+info)
Tracking the ecological overshoot of the human economy.
Sustainability requires living within the regenerative capacity of the biosphere. In an attempt to measure the extent to which humanity satisfies this requirement, we use existing data to translate human demand on the environment into the area required for the production of food and other goods, together with the absorption of wastes. Our accounts indicate that human demand may well have exceeded the biosphere's regenerative capacity since the 1980s. According to this preliminary and exploratory assessment, humanity's load corresponded to 70% of the capacity of the global biosphere in 1961, and grew to 120% in 1999. (+info)
Indicators of AEI applied to the Delaware Estuary.
We evaluated the impacts of entrainment and impingement at the Salem Generating Station on fish populations and communities in the Delaware Estuary. In the absence of an agreed-upon regulatory definition of "adverse environmental impact" (AEI), we developed three independent benchmarks of AEI based on observed or predicted changes that could threaten the sustainability of a population or the integrity of a community. Our benchmarks of AEI included: (1) disruption of the balanced indigenous community of fish in the vicinity of Salem (the "BIC" analysis); (2) a continued downward trend in the abundance of one or more susceptible fish species (the "Trends" analysis); and (3) occurrence of entrainment/impingement mortality sufficient, in combination with fishing mortality, to jeopardize the future sustainability of one or more populations (the "Stock Jeopardy" analysis). The BIC analysis utilized nearly 30 years of species presence/absence data collected in the immediate vicinity of Salem. The Trends analysis examined three independent data sets that document trends in the abundance of juvenile fish throughout the estuary over the past 20 years. The Stock Jeopardy analysis used two different assessment models to quantify potential long-term impacts of entrainment and impingement on susceptible fish populations. For one of these models, the compensatory capacities of the modeled species were quantified through meta-analysis of spawner-recruit data available for several hundred fish stocks. All three analyses indicated that the fish populations and communities of the Delaware Estuary are healthy and show no evidence of an adverse impact due to Salem. Although the specific models and analyses used at Salem are not applicable to every facility, we believe that a weight of evidence approach that evaluates multiple benchmarks of AEI using both retrospective and predictive methods is the best approach for assessing entrainment and impingement impacts at existing facilities. (+info)
Mortality of employees of the United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority, 1946-97.
BACKGROUND: The workforce of the UK Atomic Energy Authority has been the subject of several previous epidemiological investigations. AIMS: To detect and investigate associations between mortality rates and employment in a substantially increased cohort size and follow up extended to 1997. METHODS AND RESULTS: The new cohort included 51 367 employees, of whom 10 249 were dead. Mortality rates for all workers were low compared to national rates, as were rates in radiation workers and for workers monitored for internal contamination. For radiation workers all cause mortality and all cancer mortality were significantly lower than for non-radiation workers. There was no overall trend of increasing mortality with radiation dose. There was little evidence of raised mortality from leukaemia. The association of prostatic cancer with radiation dose was much less significant than in previous reports. However, the relatively high mortality from uterine cancers among radiation workers remained, though the numbers were very small. The association was with endometrial rather than cervical cancer. Mortality from cancer of the pleura was high among radiation workers, but was not correlated with dose. CONCLUSION: Overall, radiation workers at UKAEA showed no excess mortality. The previously detected association of prostate cancer with high radiation dose may have been a statistical artefact or a risk associated with discontinued activities. Endometrial cancer occurred at higher rates in female radiation workers, but, because there was no correlation with dose, may well be due to something other than their radiation exposure. Cancer of the pleura in radiation workers was almost certainly related to past asbestos exposure. (+info)