The “Tooth Fairy Project” is asking local parents to donate their child’s baby teeth to help answer the question: “Is the Fermi 2 nuclear power reactor a threat to local health?”
The otherwise cute name “Tooth Fairy Project” is actually a serious scientific study. The Radiation and Public Health Project (RPHP) that runs the study is accepting donated teeth, and plans to send them to a specialty lab for measurements of Strontium-90 (Sr-90).
Sr-90 is a chemical that does not exist in nature. It is only produced in explosions of atomic bombs and operations of nuclear reactors like Fermi 2. Over 100 new chemicals – including Sr-90 – are routinely created as waste products by nuclear weapons and reactors.
Each of the 100-plus chemicals is radioactive, and harmful to human health. In reactors like Fermi 2, much of the waste is stored, and must be kept from humans for hundreds and thousands of years. But some of this toxic mix escapes into the environment, and enters the body through air, food and water. Once in the body, these chemicals kill or damage cells, potentially leading to cancer and other diseases.
In a reversal, after Fermi 2 began operating in 1985, the low rates disappeared. In the most recent years, Monroe County’s cancer death rate had climbed to 14% above the state, and the growing gap shows no signs of ending. In addition, the Monroe’s cancer death rate among children, who are most susceptible to radiation exposure, was 38% above the state – the highest of any Michigan county.
RPHP is concerned by the report, and is taking action. First, it will test a sample of teeth from the Detroit area from the original St. Louis study for Sr-90 (about 100,000 teeth not used in the old study were donated to the group). Second, it is soliciting donations of teeth from children who live near Fermi 2, and will also test these teeth for the same Sr-90.
Donating a tooth shed by a child is a very easy way to become a part of scientific research. The RPHP web site includes simple instructions on how to do this (https://radiation.org/new-rphp-report-on-rising-cancer-deaths-near-detroit-area-nuclear-plant/). Similar studies are planned near other aging reactors.
Much like those opposed to above-ground bomb tests years ago, the goal of this study is a reduction in rates of cancer and other diseases for future generations.