Most childhood leukaemia or other cancers are
“probably” caused by the mother’s exposure to
toxic industrial emissions before or shortly after childbirth,
according to new research reported in the Journal of Epidemiology
and Community Health.*
Childhood leukaemia and other cancers are closely linked to high
atmospheric emissions of chemicals associated with oil burning
(particularly in engines), waste incineration and other industrial
and refinery processes. And emissions of dioxins and 1,3-butadiene
(a toxic gas used in plastic and synthetic rubber production),
carry a particularly high risk, the study says.
The study, by George Knox of Birmingham University, was based on
a chemical emissions map for the UK, and details of all children
who had died from leukaemia and other cancers before their 16th
birthday in Great Britain between 1953 and 1980.
When all the data had been collected and the risks calculated,
children born within a 1km radius of hotspots for emissions of
certain chemicals were between two and four times as likely to die
of cancer before reaching the age of 16 as other children.
He concludes that there is an urgent need to regulate
carcinogenic atmospheric emissions, but especially 1,3-butadiene,
and he calls for “a redirection of research efforts relating
to childhood cancer”.