A report published by the Royal Society has revealed that children born to fathers employed as ‘liquidators’ during the 1986 Chernobyl accident show a 7-fold increase in mutation rate of DNA. Liquidators were workers drafted in to clean up the reactor site whilst the accident was on-going and after it was brought under control.
Undertaken by the Institute of Evolution and the Kaput Holim National Cancer Control Centre in Israel and the Research Centre for Radiation Medicine in the Ukraine, the research gives significant support to the 1989 Gardener theory which the Nuclear Industry and BNFL in particular have unsuccessfully tried to dismiss. The late Professor Gardner of Southampton University had discovered that children of Sellafield workers who had received certain levels of pre-conception radiation dose were 8 times more likely to contract leukaemia or non-Hodgkins lymphoma than children whose parents had not been exposed.
The Royal Society report, published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society Part B Vol 268 No 1471 confirms that the Chernobyl research work has identified that even low doses of radiation can induce mutiple changes in human germline DNA. Tests on Liquidator families in which one child was conceived before the explosion at the Ukranian reactor and one conceived after the accident, and on families from areas with no radiation exposure, showed an increase in mutation rates after exposure to ionising radiation which was “highly significant” and which needed serious attention.
The mutations can cause increased risk of cancer or genetic instability in future generations. Researchers of the Chernobyl study which revealed the ability of lower doses of radiation to produce mutations suggested that low level occupational or medical exposure to radiation could double the mutation rate in offspring.
CORE said today “ This emphatic support for Gardener’s work should be of the greatest concern to Sellafield workers and we hope that, with their welfare in mind, BNFL will take it seriously for once. The company has a long record of ignoring the findings of studies which have shown some connection between worker exposure and elevated cancer risks and illnesses “.
The Chernobyl study also confirms the findings on liquidators and their offspring by Russian scientist Dr. Irina Vorobtsova, as well as research by UK Professor Eric Wright, that genomic instability caused by the lowest dose of radiation can be passed on to future generations.”