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Band 69a: Ionising Radiation and Childhood Leukaemia

(Revision of SSK Volume 29)

Statement by the German Commission on Radiological Protection

Editors: Sabine Reinöhl-Kompa, Marina Grunst and Horst Heller
2013, 149 pages, 16 tables, 7 figures
ISSN: 0179-2075, free online-resource

Various studies have found a correlation between the risk of developing childhood leukaemia and the proximity of the home to the nearest nuclear power plant (NPP). However, radiation dose estimates and measurements carried out in the vicinity of these plants show that the doses are so low, by orders of magnitude, that they cannot explain the increased incidence of leukaemia observed in some studies. In addition, at least some of the studies found increased frequencies of childhood leukaemia in the vicinity of planned sites of nuclear power plants and pre-operational nuclear power plant sites, suggesting that factors other than exposure to ionising radiation are significant in these cases.

The statement by the German Commission on Radiological Protection (SSK) and the scientific reasoning review the current scientific knowledge about the development of childhood leukaemias, both in general terms and in relation to ionising radiation in particular, in the fields of molecular biology, immunology and epidemiology, and consider various risk factors They replace Volume 29 of the „Publications of the Commission on Radiological Protection“, published in 1994.

SSK states, that the greatest difficulty arising at present when interpreting the available data is that the mechanisms of leukaemia induction and development in children are unknown. However, it seems likely that as with solid cancers, the development of leukaemias is a multistep process, and that the various steps are not necessarily caused by the same agent. It is therefore highly probable that leukaemia development is a multifactorial process. This makes it more difficult to conduct epidemiological studies, as the contributions of the various individual factors may be small and all the relevant factors may have to interact in order to cause leukaemia. There are strong indications that the first step, at least, may be established during pregnancy, especially in children younger than five.

Download volume 69a (English)
URN: urn:nbn:de:101:1-2013120910084

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