Spain investigates four cancer cases diagnosed in children in one school

Hi Sandi

You may want to send this to the Carlton Hill school?

BW Gary

InfoTrac Web: Expanded Academic ASAP.
Source: The Lancet, Jan 12, 2002 v359 i9301 p144.

Title: Spain investigates four cancer cases diagnosed in children in one school. (News)(Brief Article) Author: Xavier Bosch

Subjects: Leukemia - Investigations Lymphoblastic leukemia in children - Investigations Locations: Spain

Magazine Collection: 109F4323 Electronic Collection: A81873192
RN: A81873192

Full Text COPYRIGHT 2002 The Lancet Ltd.

The emergence of haematological malignancies in four children at a school in the Spanish city of Valladolid during a 12-month period forced the regional government of Castilla y Leon to close the school on Jan 2 so that experts could try to identify the cause of the cluster of cases.

On Dec 21, before the fourth case was identified, a judge ordered the owners of 36 nearby telephone aerials to switch them off, after repeated complaints by parents. The aerials were on the roof of a building, which was 46 metres from the school. However, before the fourth case of acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (ALL) was diagnosed, an epidemiological study by the regional authorities found no relation between the aerials and the first three cases.

The study confirmed that from December, 2000, to September, 2001, two 5-year-old girls and a 9-year-old boy at the school had developed ALL and Hodgkin's disease respectively and noted that the aerials were erected in November, 2000. Although the expected incidence rate of leukaemia and lymphoma in the school was significantly higher than the national average incidence rate--4.3 cases per 100 000 person-years in the 0-14-year-old age group)--the study found no link to the aerials and could not offer any explanation for the three cases.

The study also concluded that the electromagnetic exposure levels from the aerials were within the normal range and that the school was not affected by direct emmission of radiation from the masts. The study also noted that the time between the placement of the aerials and the emergence of the cases was too short to justify the development of the malignancies. The study concluded that "it has not been possible to demonstrate a cause for the cluster of cancer cases in the children from the Garcia Quintana school. The report's authors suggested close surveillance measures should be set up to unravel the source of the cases.

However, the emergence of the fourth case at the end of December prompted the regional authorities to close the school for 455 children as a "health and safety" measure. A new team of experts, commissioned by the health ministry, have been asked to do another epidemiological study. The team will comprise experts from the Instituto Carlos III and the National Institute of Cancer, both at the ministry, and independent epidemiologists, oncologists, paediatricians, and haematologists.

Juan Jose Represa, a researcher at the Higher Research Council, considered the most sensible approach from now on was to investigate whether the malignancies may be related to other causes such as a high-dose exposure to chemical agents in the school or materials used to construct the school. The new study will include an examination of all sources of ionising and non-ionising radiation and will include an analysis of the school's water supply. All children and school staff will have a medical examination. A representative from the school will be invited to all the meetings of the public-health team.

On Jan 3, parents of children at the school filed a lawsuit against the local authorities because they had been prevented from entering the school without a legal order. The director of the school was also prevented from entering the school by the police. Luis Martin, a spokesman for the parents association, said that the closure, and move of the children to another school, was an attempt to put the aerials back into service.

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