Global warming, nuclear power health risks underestimated: Caldicott. 16/04/2007. ABC News Online
Global warming, nuclear power health risks underestimated: CaldicottA leading environmentalist and physician says the health risks posed by global warming and nuclear power are worse than those of smoking.
Prominent environmentalist, Nobel Peace Prize nominee and paediatrician Dr Helen Caldicott says global warming and nuclear power plants will increase the spread of disease.
She says nuclear power plants contribute substantially to climate change and expose humans to radiation-related illnesses.
Dr Caldicott says public awareness of the health risks posed by nuclear power has dropped off.
“Each reactor makes 200 kilograms of plutonium a year, whose half life is 240,000 years,” she said.
“[It’s] the most toxic substance known to the human race, such that a couple of kilos if adequately distributed could give everyone on earth cancer.
“So we’re talking about a spread of disease that will make the tobacco industry look benign in terms of cancer.”
Dr Caldicott has welcomed a new website by medical students at the ANU, which monitors the connection between a changing environment and human health.
She says the development of the research website is timely.
“It’s been known for several decades that as the earth heats there will be epidemics of malaria, particularly in places that are now cool like Melbourne and Seattle,” she said.
“Diseases spread by arthropods like mosquitos and the like that will breed in the hot climates that normally are cool.”