Wednesday, May 28, 2008

fallout boys and girls

Given the choice, would you have left your baby teeth for the Tooth Fairy or donated them to science? The owners of almost 300,000 baby teeth in the St. Louis area chose science. The St. Louis Baby Teeth Survey collected primary teeth from 1959 to 1970. The teeth were measured for radioactivity to see if humans were affected by above-ground atomic bomb tests. The results were a factor in the ending of those tests in 1963.

In 2001, a bunch of the old baby teeth turned up in an ammunition bunker at the Tyson Research Center of Washington University in St. Louis. I don't know why a university needs an ammunition bunker but I'm sure they have a good reason.

An article in today's St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that researchers will track down hundreds of the baby teeth donors to see how healthy they are as adults. They wonder if kids with more strontium-90 in their teeth will have a higher rate of cancer.

Joseph Mangano, executive director of the Radiation and Public Health Project, told the newspaper:
"For this first year, we will be studying only male tooth donors. First, it is much easier to locate males at current addresses, since many girls donating teeth in the 1960s have changed their names. Second, the death rate is much higher for males, and may yield a larger sample of donors who are either living with cancer or have died of the disease. Seven percent of males and 3 percent of females who were young children in the 1960s are now deceased."

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Blogger bean said...

frank, i am so jealous of your post today. it really is perfect. i wish i had written it. i may give up blogging now that i see how it is supposed to be done. sigh. i fail.


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