Innocent kids suffer in N-race

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London, Jan 11 (UNI) The mad race to harness the power of atom for both civilian and military purposes is seriously jeopardising the lives of innocent kids.

According to scientists, children living in the vicinity of nuclear power stations are more likely to suffer from leukaemia than their counterparts dwelling further away.

German Federal Office for Radiation Protection (BFS), which works for the safety and protection of man and the environment against damages due to ionising and non-ionising radiation, found a number of cases of the blood or bone marrow cancer among children, under the age of five and living near 16 power stations in the country.

However, the researchers could not ascertain whether radiation from the plants played a role in the cancers, the Daily Telegraph reported today.

BFS director Wolfram Koenig, however, said, ''Given the particularly high risk of nuclear radiation for children, and the inadequacy of data on the emissions of nuclear power plants, we must take the correlation between distance of residence and high risk of leukaemia very seriously.'' The scientists found children living within five km radius of a nuclear power station were over twice likely to be diagnosed with leukaemia while those living within 10 km were 33 per cent more likely to have the disease as against those dwelling further away.

The influx of construction workers used to build the plants was also cited as another reason for the clusters by cancer epidemiologist Leo Kinlen.

''Rural population mixing has in the past been associated with increases in leukaemia, because of the suggestion that infection with a virus may play a role in the disease,'' he said, adding that one should be careful about the selection of the area within which the clusters are found because of the small number of cases.

UNI XC SG RN1420

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