Trusted local news leader for Kingman, Arizona & Mohave County
Sun, Aug. 25

Fallout: Part III of V<BR>Tainted milk linked to downwinder cancers

The government last year released a study assessing radioactive fallout from nuclear testing, but Eleanore Fanire of Kingman has known the effects for years.

She has ovarian cancer.

For her brother, William "Billy" Logas, the final accounting came Aug.

9, 2002, when he died from a brain tumor.

Fanire said during the years of above-ground nuclear testing in Southern Nevada many Kingman residents drank milk from dairy farms in Southern Utah that were contaminated by testing.

"The milk was trucked into Kingman, processed in Kingman and then put into King's Dairy milk bottles," Fanire said.

The study released last year by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention links many types of cancers, including melanoma, leukemia and thyroid, colon and breast cancers, to radiation exposure through inhalation or tainted food.

The study is the government's first effort to assess the nationwide effects of all forms of radiation from above-ground nuclear blasts worldwide before such testing was banned in 1963.

In fact, anyone living in the contiguous United States since 1951 has been exposed to radioactive fallout, and all organs and tissues of the population have been exposed to some radiation, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states.

The study, which took four years to complete, was conducted to determine the risk to Americans from radioactive fallout and does not provide policy recommendations or cost analysis.

Radioactive debris is generally termed "fallout" because eventually some of it falls to earth, resulting in increased radiation doses (adding to those occurring naturally).

The Nevada Test Site, 65 northwest of Las Vegas, detonated at least 100 nuclear bombs between 1951 and 1963.

Exposure to radioactive material from fallout may occur from direct contact with radioactive material in the air or deposited on the ground, from inhaling the material or from ingesting it after it has been transferred to plants, animals or animal products such as milk.

Iodine 131 is a short-lived radionuclide that contributed to radiation doses primarily in regions near test sites, including the Nevada Test Site.

The National Cancer Institute has determined that a major health risk associated with exposure to Iodine-131 is cancer of the thyroid gland, where this radionuclide concentrates.

The "active" in "radioactive" means that unstable substances produced during nuclear reactions break down and change so that they eventually become stable and no longer release radiation.

The rate of breakdown can occur quickly in some radioactive substances, often within a few days.

Half of the I-131 released during each atomic bomb test was broken down within about eight days and almost all of it within 80 days, according to information from the National Cancer Institute.

However, for those exposed to radiation fallout the results can last a lifetime.

Radiation can injure human tissue, says the National Cancer Institute, and farm animals that grazed in fields within a few days after a test would have consumed higher levels of I-131 than animals grazing later.

The institute states that people who drank milk from cows that ingested I-131 have a higher thyroid cancer risk than other people.

Cedar City, Utah, is in Iron County, which borders Nevada and is northeast of the Nevada Test Site.

Iron County is one of the geographic areas covered under the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act.

A clerk at the Cedar City Chamber of Commerce has confirmed that during the years of nuclear testing there were many dairy farms in that area.

"Those are the same cows that grazed on radioactive fields and drank the contaminated water from the rivers," Fanire said.

Kingman resident John Woodhouse - whose father worked at King's Dairy for 15 years and died of bladder cancer in 1991 - was raised on dairy farms in Southern Utah.

Woodhouse said he believes there is a connection between cows exposed to radiation and milk that was trucked to Las Vegas and Kingman.

The National Cancer Institute has also traced that link.

Iodine-131 released in bomb test fallout was carried by wind and fell with the rain into pastures, where it was ingested by cows and goats, according to the institute.

Humans drank the milk containing I-131, which collected in their thyroid glands.

Children were more likely to have consumed the milk, and babies who were breastfed may have been exposed to two to three times as much I-131 as their mothers.

Residents received little exposure from eating fruits and leafy vegetables because peeling and washing them removed most of the I-131, according to the institute.

A U.S.

Department of Justice downwinders claim form lists specific diseases for which the department will compensate, provided that a claimant meets certain criteria and lives in a county in which help is provided.

The list includes: most types of leukemia; multiple myeloma; lymphomas, other than Hodgkin's disease; primary cancer of the thyroid, breast, esophagus, urinary system, bladder, colon, stomach, pharynx, small intestine, pancreas, bile ducts, gall bladder, salivary gland, brain, ovary and the liver; and lung cancer.

Mohave County leads other large Arizona counties in cancer deaths.

The county had 224.20 cancer deaths per 100,000 in 2002 compared with 191.32 per 100,000 in Coconino County, 163.58 per 100,000 in Apache and 192.40 in Yavapai.

Fanire is just one of hundreds of Mohave County downwinders who have had disease compensation claims rejected by Radiation Exposure Compensation Program, administrated by the Justice Department.

The program has paid 6,519 claims for $325.9 million.

Mohave County is not a geographical area covered under the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act.

Part IV: Families of downwinders tell what it is like to lose a mother, brother, sister to cancer; and, what the community is doing for downwinders who suffer from cancer.

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