Windscale AGR and nuclear piles COMARE Trefoil radiation symbol
Latest News: COMARE 14th Report: Further consideration of the incidence of childhood cancer around nuclear power plants in Great Britain.
COMARE: Press Releases
Sellafield as seen from a distance
An electricity pylon viewed against a blue sky
The Dounreay Fast Reactor

Suncream being applied to mans back

Get Adobe Acrobat Reader

COMARE
 Site Map
 FAQs
 Current Work
 Membership
 Documents
 Press Releases
 News
 Links
 
Outline map of Great Britain

> Press Releases

6 May 2011

COMARE 14th Report: Further consideration of the incidence of childhood leukaemia around nuclear power plants in Great Britain

 

Childhood leukaemia is a rare disease, affecting approximately 500 children every year in the UK. Nevertheless there have been numerous studies and reports on the possible risks of childhood leukaemia in the vicinity of nuclear power plants and other nuclear installations. The aim of this report was to undertake a further review of the incidence of childhood leukaemia in the vicinity of nuclear power plants (NPPs) specifically in Great Britain, with particular reference to recent publications and studies from other countries and taking into account the conclusions in the tenth and eleventh COMARE reports (which consider the period 1969-1993).

COMARE presents a new geographical data analysis on the incidence of leukaemia in children under 5 years of age, living in the vicinity of 13 NPPs. It uses cancer registration data for Great Britain for the extended period 1969 to 2004.

The report also considers additional factors not addressed in previous COMARE reports, which may account for differences in leukaemia risks in studies from other countries. The report investigates the pathology of childhood leukaemia and non-Hodgkins lymphoma cases in the vicinity of British NPPs. It also describes the cancer registries of several European countries, the types of reactors used in those countries, the radioactive discharges associated with the reactor types and the consequent assessed radiation doses to the general population.

In particular, COMARE considered the results of the German Kinderkrebs in der Umgebung von Kernkraftwerken (KiKK) study and concludes they are heavily influenced by cases in the earliest period (1980-1990), compared with the later periods (1991-1995 and 1996-2003) when the risks are lower. In the later periods, the results are influenced heavily by the known cluster around the Krummel plant. The study was not able to take potential confounders, such as socio-economic status, into account. There is disparity in the risk for childhood leukaemia for 1980-1990 between additional German geographical studies and the case-control KiKK study. Possibilities for this difference include the distance measurement methodology and the control selection for the KiKK study.

Finally COMARE is of the view that there is no current evidence to support the hypothesis that in utero exposures from tritium and carbon-14 radioactive discharges have been underestimated or that such discharges are associated with increased risk of childhood cancers.

COMARE recommends that the Government keeps a watching brief on the risk of childhood cancers in the vicinity of NPPs. The committee also recommends that there is no reduction in maintenance of effective surveillance regarding the environment and public health. COMARE recommends the continuation of a programme of environmental measurements of radioactivity, including the continued monitoring of carbon-14 discharges (both gaseous and liquid) for existing nuclear installations and similar programmes for all new NPPS in the UK. The committee would like to see the monitoring of liquid carbon-14 discharges from NPPs, as undertaken in the UK, extended to the rest of the EU. COMARE recommends that research is continued into all possible causative mechanisms of leukaemia (both radiation and non-radiation-related).

In conclusion, COMARE’s primary analysis of the latest British data has revealed no significant evidence of an association between risk of childhood leukaemia (in under 5 year olds) and living in proximity to an NPP.

 

Press enquiries to COMARE Secretariat:  Tel No: 01235-832447

 

COMARE 14th Report "Further consideration of the incidence of childhood leukaemia around nuclear power plants in Great Britain". Chairman: Professor A Elliott.


 

 

SUMMARY OF THE 14th COMARE REPORT

 

In this, the 14th COMARE report, the incidence of childhood leukaemia in the vicinity of nuclear power plants (NPPs) in Great Britain has been reviewed and it has been concluded that the risk estimate for childhood leukaemia associated with proximity to an NPP is extremely small, if not zero. This extends the previous analysis presented in COMARE’s 10th report for 1969-1993 to the period 1969-2004. The report has considered the pathology of leukaemia and NHL cases and determined that the cases living within 10 km of an NPP do not appear to differ from a larger group of control patients. Evidence has been reviewed from a variety of studies from other countries regarding the incidence of childhood leukaemia in the vicinity of NPPs, together with data on several cancer registration systems, the types of reactors found in other countries and the associated radioactive discharges and estimated effective radiation doses. The differences in NPP design, location and practices, together with differences in methodology for epidemiological studies means that it is not possible to draw direct comparisons for various countries. Based on the evidence presented in the report, COMARE sees no reason to change its previous advice to Government (as given in the 10th report) that for Great Britain there is no evidence to support the view of an increased risk of childhood leukaemia in the vicinity of NPPS. COMARE recommends that the Government keeps a watching brief in this area and that there is no reduction in maintenance of effective surveillance regarding the environment and public health. COMARE recommends the continuation of a programme of environmental measurements of radioactivity, including the continued monitoring of carbon-14 discharges (both gaseous and liquid) for existing nuclear installations and similar programmes for all new NPPS in the UK. The committee would like to see the monitoring of liquid carbon-14 discharges from NPPs, as undertaken in the UK, extended to the rest of the EU. COMARE recommends that research is continued into all possible causative mechanisms of leukaemia (both radiation and non-radiation-related) and that UK-wide resources used for such studies as presented in this report continue to be supported.

 

COMARE

 

The Committee on Medical Aspects of Radiation in the Environment (COMARE) was established in November 1985 in response to the final recommendation of the report of the Independent Advisory Group chaired by Sir Douglas Black (Black, 1984). Its terms of reference are to "assess and advise Government and the Devolved Authorities on the health effects of natural and man-made radiation and to assess the adequacy of the available data and the need for further research". Over the last 25 years COMARE has published many reports and statements relating to radiation health risk, many of which are available on its web site.

 

Download the 14th Report in Portable Document Format  PDF Document

Top

 


© Copyright COMARE 2011
Photo images are provided courtesy of the NRPB and UKAEA, copyright retained