Childhood Leukaemia near Nuclear Sites in Belgium, 2002-2008
This publication appears in: European Journal of Cancer Prevention
Authors: K. Bollaerts, K. Simons, L. Van Bladel, T. De Smedt, M. Sonck, S. Fierens, A. Poffijn, D. Geraerts, P. Gosselin, H. Van Oyen, J. Francart and A. Van Nieuwenhuyse
Publication Date: May. 2016
Objectives: This paper describes an ecological study investigating whether there is an excess of acute leukaemia incidence among children aged 0ᆢ years living in the vicinity of the nuclear sites in Belgium.Methods: Poisson regression modeling (RR) was conducted for proximity areas of varying sizes. Additionally, the hypothesis of a gradient in leukaemia incidence with increasing levels of surrogate exposures was explored by means of focused hypothesis tests and generalized additive models. For the surrogate exposures, three proxies were used, i.e. residential proximity to the nuclear site, prevailing winds and simulated radioactive discharges based on mathematical dispersion modeling.Results: No excesses of acute leukaemia were observed around the nuclear power plants of Doel and Tihange or around the nuclear site of Fleurus, which is the major producent of radio-active isotopes in Europe. Around the site of Mol-Dessel, however, two-till three-fold increased leukaemia rates were shown in children aged 0ᆢ years living in the 0Ǉkm, 0ᆞkm and the 0ᆣkm proximity areas. For this site, there was evidence for a gradient in leukaemia incidence with increased proximity, prevailing winds and simulated radio-active discharges, suggesting a potential link with the site and needs further investigation.Conclusion: Increased incidences of acute leukaemia in children 0ᆢ years were observed around one nuclear site that hosted reprocessing activities in the past and where nuclear waste treatment is ongoing.