Infant mortality changes following the Three Mile Island accident
|Classification||3.01.8.11/25 (UNITED STATES - SITES - HARRISBURG (TMI))|
From the publication:
INFANT MORTALITY CHANGES FOLLOWING THE THREE MILE ISLAND ACCIDENT Dr. E.J. Sternglass Department of Radiology University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine Pittsburgh, PA 15261 January 1980 An examination of the monthly changes in infant mortality in Pennsylvania and the nearby areas of Upstate New York as given in the U.S. Monthly Vital statistics reports indicate that the mortality rate rose significantly shortly after the Three Mile Island accident in the directions where the plume of radioactive gases was known to have moved. The number of reported infant deaths per month rose from a minimum of 141 in March of 1979 just before the accident to a peak of 271 in July, declining again to 119 by August. This is an unprecedented and highly significant rise of 92% in the summer months when infant mortality normally reaches its lowest values. In the four month period following the accident, there were 242 deaths above the normally expected number in Pennsylvania and a total of about 430 in the entire Northeastern area of the United States. The hypothesis that this abnormal rise was associated with the gaseous releases from Three Mile Island is shown to be strongly supported by the follmving considerations. First, large amounts of radioactive Iodine-131 were released from the plant, estimated by the utility's own radiological consultants to have amounted to 14 curies, together with 10 million curies of other fission gases, most of the activity escaping in the first two days before the order to evacuate pregnant women and young children was issued. Secondly, infant mortality peaked three to four months after the initial releases took place. This corresponds to the period required for infants to be born whose thyroid glands were most active in taking up the radioactive iodine while producing growth hormone when the accident occurred, thus explaining the large rise in the number of immature and underweight infants that died of respiratory distress as indicated by an examination of hospital records. Thirdly, the....