Radioactive Baby Teeth, JFK and Kids With Cancer

by on October 4, 2021 · 0 comments

in Environment, Health

Nuclear Shutdown News chronicles the decline and fall of the nuclear industry in the US and beyond, and highlights the efforts of those who are working to bring about a nuclear free world.

The fear of nuclear annihilation after WWII spread around the world along with radioactive fallout from nuclear bomb tests. Scientists began to document the presence of this radioactivity in humans.

One particular radioactive chemical, Strontium 90 (Sr- 90), received particular attention. As with other fallout, it does not exist in nature. Like its non- radioactive cousin calcium, if it enters our bodies, it concentrates in our bones and teeth, and can emit radiation there for about 200 years, potentially causing cancer and other dread diseases.

In the 1950s and 60s, consumption of milk was strongly encouraged, especially for children. Reports of Sr- 90 in milk began to appear.

In 1961, soon after President Kennedy took office, Mother’s Strike for Peace formed to promote the banning of nuclear testing worldwide. The movement quickly went global.

Around this same time, activists and scientists in various parts of the globe developed the idea of collecting baby teeth and testing them for the presence of Strontium-90. In the US these efforts centered around St Louis, with parents donating their kids’ teeth to be tested at Washington University there.

The results were disturbing, indicating that the more fallout accumulated in the environment, the more Sr-90 showed up in children’s teeth. Published results of these studies were shared with Kennedy’s science advisor, Jerome Weisner. Wiesner in turn described Kennedy’s reaction as he conveyed the news as the president looked out a window at the White House on a rainy day: “And I told him it (fallout) was washed out of clouds by rain, that it would be brought to earth by rain, and he said, looking out the window, ‘You mean it’s in the rain out there?’–and I said ‘Yes’; and he looked out the window, looked very sad,  and didn’t say a word for several minutes.”

Soon thereafter, Kennedy got the Test Ban Treaty agreed to by the US, the USSR and the UK.

On a July 8, 1963 speech encouraging this, he told the world:

“The number of children and grandchildren with cancer in their bones, with leukemia in their blood, or poison in their lungs, might seem statistically small to some,, but this is not a natural health hazard–and it is not a statistical issue. The loss of one human life, or the malformation of even one baby–who may be born long after we are gone–should be concern to us all. Our children and grandchildren are not merely statistics toward which we can be indifferent.”

Nuke Plants Implicated Too

Starting in the 1950s, the US federal government’ Atoms For Peace” program encouraged and heavily subsidized the proliferation of commercial nuclear power plants to produce electrical power for the general public. This electricity would be “too cheap to meter” people were promised. This was just the first of many such promises that proved false. Another was that the fallout released by the plants would be negligible. But as the words The Mile Island, Chernobyl and Fukushima entered our vocabularies, another picture entered our minds, and it looked like a mushroom cloud.

As it turned out, all these nuclear plants have to regularly release radioactivity into the environment, the same kind as nuclear weapons. And including Strontium 90.

So once again the radioactive baby teeth came back on the scene.

This was hastened in 2001 when workers at Washington U. in St. Louis found a previously unknown number of untested baby teeth–it turned out to be 100,000!

These ended up with the Radiation and Public Health Project (RPHP) which had already conducted studies with other baby teeth collected within 50 miles of US nuclear plants that indicated disturbing levels of SR-90, as well as abnormally high numbers of childhood cancers.

In the 2008 book Radioactive Baby Teeth :The Cancer Link, Radiation and Public Health Project executive Director Joseph Mangano wrote:

“RPHP was the first to examine health risks using baby tooth study results, and it concentrated on childhood cancer, the disease most likely to show such a risk. The group has found a statistical link between Sr-90 teeth and cancer diagnosed in children under ten near three nuclear plants in New Jersey and New York. The group demonstrated that when Sr-90 levels rise near a reactor, childhood cancer rises several years later.; and when levels fell, childhood cancer fell.”

Earlier this month, Joe Mangano told me, “The real heroes of this story are the parents of the children who donated their kids teeth, and in so doing saved millions of lives.”

More recently, RPHP has teamed up up with Harvard School of Public Health to expand the scope of the baby teeth studies, archive more financial resources, and bring more media attention to their efforts.

Sources: Radiation and Public Health Project,; Radioactive Baby Teeth: The Cancer Link.



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