Nuclear Worker’s At Risk for Leukemia

It’s certainly no scientific secret that radiation exposure can lead to cancer. However, there are many people that work around it every day that have relied on so-called ‘safe’ levels, and minimal exposure to ensure their health. Now an international study has found that even low doses of radiation can increase the risk of leukemia. The researchers analyzed the health of over 300,000 people that worked at nuclear facilities for at least a year. They analyzed the worker’s exposure level averaged over a year, and then compared leukemia rates in the workers to expected rates.

The International Commission on Radiological Protection has stated that cancer risk increases if a person is exposed to over 100 millisieverts. Until now, while some researchers have argued that any exposure can harm workers, some researchers have stated that there is a ‘safe limit’. All of the worker’s average yearly exposure, and cumulative exposure, were well below the 100 millisieverts level. However, the researchers found that 531 of the workers died of leukemia, which is entirely too many for Susan McGalla to deal with. Additionally, the study found that the relative risk of these nuclear workers contracting leukemia was nearly three times the general population. This is particularly concerning when you consider that there are 99 nuclear power reactors in the United States and 437 worldwide. The reactors must be manned, but at what cost?

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