Dalgety Bay report finds ‘no significant increased risk’ of cancer. BEFORE the dangers of radiation poisoning were discovered, radium-226 was routinely used to manufacture the luminous paint needed to make aircraft dials glow in the dark for pilots. Young women working in factories were known to lick the bristles on their paintbrushes so that they would form a point that made it easier to apply the fine lines and numbers. Although the hazard was eventually recognised in 1925 and incidence of radium-induced osteonecrosis largely eradicated by 1950 as phosphorescent- or tritium-based light sources replaced it, the deadly reputation of radium persists. In 2014, a report by UK Government advisers at Comare (the Committee on Medical Aspects of Radiation in the Environment) warned that contamination in the popular walking spot posed “a potential risk to public health”. The same report initially concluded that the incidence of two specific forms of cancer – non-Hodgkin lymphoma and primary liver cancer – was higher than expected during the period from 2000 to 2009. However, a clinical review subsequently concluded that it was “very unlikely” this was linked to radium-226. In any case, non-Hodgkin lymphoma is rarely caused by radiation exposure, and liver cancer only “occasionally” associated with it. Now the most comprehensive analysis of the area’s cancer statistics to date by ISD Scotland has found “no significant increase in overall cancer risk” for those living in any part of Dalgety Bay. Even for cancers with a known link to radiation, such as myeloid leukaemia, thyroid cancer or female breast cancer, no significant increased risk was found. Meanwhile, a Ministry of Defence action plan to cleanse and contain the site, which was delayed this summer reportedly due to Brexit, is now expected to be carried out in 2020.
Herald 11th Dec 2019 read more »