University of Manchester’s Centre for Occupational and Environmental Health finds no strong link between cancer and radiation exposure at Rössing Uranium mine

Eileen van der Schyff

An Epidemiological study conducted by the University of Manchester’s Centre for Occupational and Environmental Health found no strong link between total radiation exposure and certain cancers at Rössing Uranium Limited. The study included all employees who worked at the Rössing Uranium mine between 1 January 1976 and 31 December 2010.

Major shareholder of Rössing Uranium until recently, Rio Tinto, appointed the University of Manchester back in 2015, that in an independent study investigated if working at the mine is linked to a higher risk of developing cancer. Not only are workers at the mine exposed to radio-active material in the rock, radio-active dust and radon gas escaping from the rock which can be breathed in, workers are also exposed to substances such as acid mist, silica and diesel engine exhaust.
The study compared occupational exposures for 1 121 people with different kinds of cancers from the whole Rössing Work-force to five cancer types namely, lung, extra-thoracic (superior) airways (e.g., larynx), Leukemia, brain and kidney.
This information was used to estimate over-all exposures during the times these workers were employed at the mine.
No tracing of previous employers was required for the study, as relevant data from existing medical records of all employees was studied. All present and former workers that could be reached by email was informed about the study. In addition, all newspapers published information about the study.
Statistical analysis was carried out to identify if the risk of developing cancer was higher in workers with higher radiation exposures. These analyses showed that total radiation exposure in the Rössing mine was not associated with a higher risk of any of the cancers that were studied.

Additional sensitivity analyses were conducted for gamma radiation and in some of the analyses it was found that higher radiation exposure was linked to a higher risk of developing lung cancer.
There is also a possible link between the inhalation of radio-active dust and lung cancer the analyses suggests.
Overall, radiation exposures for workers at the Rössing mine appear to be low, based on the data provided.

You must be logged in to post a comment Login