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Does working in a nuclear power plant cause cancer?

  1. Jun 9, 2009 #1
    hello everybody,

    I have the opportunity to study nuclear engineering in the us and i'll be sponsored by a corporation in my country and i need to sign a contract which will force me to work in their power plant, so my question is

    does it cause cancer or it is safe?

    am i going to bre exposed to large amount of radiation or there are precautions?

    knowing that their salaries are quite high

    i love nuclear-related studies but if it is going to be on the expense of my health, i'm afraid i cant afford it

    so please can u answer me
    Last edited: Jun 9, 2009
  2. jcsd
  3. Jun 9, 2009 #2


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    Staff Emeritus
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    Not necessarily, assuming that appropriate protection requirements are observed. One should not be exposed to large amounts of radiation. That would be a violation of protection protocols.

    As far as I know, the rate of cancer of those who work in nuclear power plants are no greater than the general population.
  4. Jun 9, 2009 #3
    Thanks for your reply,

    are u a nuclear engineer??
  5. Jun 9, 2009 #4


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    Yes - for 25+ years.
  6. Jun 10, 2009 #5
    Working in a nuclear power plant here in the US is extremely safe. The exposure to radiation dose is very low and is monitored very closely for each individual in order to ensure that the limits are not exceeded. Maintenance workers typically receive more dose than engineers, but their dose is quite low.

    You should also know that the nuclear plants are also very safe in terms of industrial accidents (i.e., accidents such as falls, blows to the head, cut fingers, electric shocks, etc.). Although these things do happen, the companies that operate the plants are very sensitive to these types of accidents and they work diligently to prevent them.
  7. Jun 10, 2009 #6


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    I memory serves; airline pilots, especially those that fly polar routes - get 50% more radiation exposure
    than even the maintenance workers at a nuclear power plant.

    If you aren't afraid of the radiation dose you receive from being a "frequent flyer" -then you shouldn't
    be afraid of the radiation dose from working in a nuclear power plant.

    Dr. Gregory Greenman
  8. Jul 18, 2009 #7
    There seems to be evidence that people living near nuclear power plants have increased rates of cancer, especially leukemia in children. But other studies didn't find a difference in cancer rates.

    For example,
    Cancer risk around the nuclear power plants of Trillo and Zorita (Spain).
    Silva-Mato A, Viana D, Fernández-SanMartín MI, Cobos J, Viana M.

    Department of Sanitary and Socio-Medical Sciences, Area of Preventive Medicine and Public Health, Biostatistics and Epidemiology Units, University of Alcalá, Madrid, Spain. agustin.silva@uah.es

    AIM: To investigate the association between cancer risk and proximity of place of residence to the Guadalajara nuclear power plants: Trillo and Zorita. METHODS: Case-control study. Cases were patients admitted with cancer and controls were non-tumorous patients, both admitted to Guadalajara Hospital (period 1988-99). Exposure factor: place of residence (areas within 10, 20, and 30 km of each plant). Odds ratios (ORs) of those areas closest to the plants were calculated with respect to those furthest away; a linear trend analysis was also performed. RESULTS: In the extreme areas in the vicinity of Trillo, an OR of 1.71 was obtained (95% CI 1.15 to 2.53), increasing in magnitude in the subgroup of more radioinducible tumours and in the period considered as post-latency (1997-99). Risk increased linearly with proximity to the two plants, significantly in Trillo (p < 0.01) but not in Zorita (p = 0.19). CONCLUSIONS: There is an association between proximity of residence to Trillo and cancer risk, although the limitations of the study should be kept in mind when interpreting the possible causal relation.
    Last edited: Jul 18, 2009
  9. Aug 29, 2009 #8
    You receive far greater exposure from general background radiation than you would from just being in a plant.

  10. Aug 30, 2009 #9


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    Nuclear power is also responsible for the discovery of the radon problem. A guy went to work at the Limerick nuclear plant (near where I live) and set off the radiation detectors because he was getting exposure at home. I wonder how many cancers that saved? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Limerick_Nuclear_Power_Plant
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