The committee recommended two approaches to the cancer risk study, which could be carried out by the Research Council as the second phase of its project, should the USNRC decide to proceed. One approach would be to investigate rates of cancer occurrence and cancer deaths in small geographic areas within approximately a 30-mile radius of nuclear facilities. The different geographic areas should represent a range of potential exposures from radioactive material releases from the facilities, from the highest to essentially no exposure. Another would be to conduct a record-based, case-control study to assess the association of cancers in children less than 15 years old in relation to their mothers' residential proximity to a nuclear facility during pregnancy. Both approaches would have a sub-analysis focusing on leukemia, the cancer associated with radiation exposure in children.
The committee listed several challenges to carrying out the study, including uneven availability and quality of data on cancer mortality and incidence at geographic levels smaller than the county level and uneven availability of data on the amount of radiation released from nuclear facilities. There also may be limited information on population mobility and potential confounding factors, including exposure to cigarette smoke, access to health care, contact with toxic chemicals, and exposure to other sources of radiation such as from medical procedures like CT scans. The impact of these other possibly immeasurable factors on cancer incidence and mortality could overwhelm the expected effect from the releases of radiation from nuclear facilities. Moreover, the doses resulting from monitored and reported radioactive releases from nuclear facilities are expected to be low. Therefore the cancer risks, if any, are likely small. It is not certain whether a full-scale study would have sufficient statistical power to detect such small effects, if present.'/>"/>
|Contact: Jennifer Walsh|
National Academy of Sciences