April 11, 2011
Dr Harry Chen
Commissioner of Vermont Department of Public Health
The Vermont Department of Health and NRC is currently not using best science and practice in evaluating radiological emissions with its use of the outdated “reference man,” a standard created 34 years ago in 1975 by the International Commission on Radiological Protection. Best science tells us our data collection and evaluation should take into account that women face a risk about 50 percent higher than the “reference man” from the same amount of radioactive material, while the risk for children is several-fold higher.
Radiation exposure is thyroid cancer’s most recognized primary risk factor.
The incidence of thyroid cancer is rising at an alarming rate in Vermont as well as across this country and especially in the northeastern states. No cancer diagnosis is growing as fast according to the National Cancer Institute with a growth rate of about 6% a year since 1997. Most newly diagnosed are women who are two to three times more likely than men to develop thyroid cancer. Brenda Edwards is a statistician with the National Cancer Institute reported that the annual rate increase of thyroid cancer doubled from 2 percent in the 1980’s to 4.6 percent in the 1990’s to 9.8 percent in 2005 for U.S males and females of all ages.
Both the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and the Vermont Department of Health unfortunately report the incidence of thyroid cancer by aggregating the data over five years on women and men of all ages so that the public health significance of trending is absent/hidden from public view. I request that the NRC investigate and report the rising incidence rates of thyroid cancer in women, a well-known marker for radiation exposure.
It is the trend of thyroid cancer rising every year in women and the implications of that rise that should be publicly reported so that our public health leadership can begin to analyze and investigate the possible causes. I request that the NRC begin to utilize current best practice in evaluating public health risk of radiation exposure. Best practice is using current science to evaluate radiation exposure on not only men, but also women and children. I request the NRC immediately begin to publicly report yearly thyroid cancer rates trends of men versus women rather than aggregating the data over 5 years so the health significance of this trend on women is not hidden from public view.
Joe Mangano, a public health expert from the nonprofit “Radiation and Public Health Project” had found a remarkable pattern plotting nuclear reactors on a map with counties in Pennsylvania reporting the highest rates of thyroid cancer. He too has been asking for further study for years as these findings point to the possibility that thyroid cancer risk has been raised by exposure to radioactive iodine, which is routinely released as airborne particles from nuclear reactor sites. Radiation exposure is cumulative, as most nuclear reactors have been operating for years. The rise in thyroid cancer in women goes along with that accumulation.
Again I repeat. I request that the Vermont department of health utilize yearly cancer rates trends on women separately from men . Do not aggregate the data over 5 years so the health significance of trends analysis is hidden from public view. We have the right to know the facts. We expect facts not fiction.
Kathleen Krevetski RN
Rutland, VT 05701