The results of studies carried out in French Polynesia “are insufficient to conclude firmly on the links between exposure to ionizing radiation resulting from fallout from atmospheric nuclear tests in French Polynesia and the occurrence“pathologies such as thyroid cancer or malignant hemopathies, estimated ten experts brought together by Inserm, according to the summary of the report.
But the rare epidemiological studies “also do not exclude the existence of health consequences that would have gone unnoticed until now“, qualifies this report ordered in 2013 by the Ministry of Defense.
The experts analyzed 1,150 documents and studies relating to French Polynesia and other sites where nuclear tests took place. France carried out 193 tests on the atolls of Moruroa and Fangataufa, in the Tuamotu archipelago, between 1966 and 1996, including 46 atmospheric tests, the first eight years.
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The report repeatedly points out the lack of comprehensive studies to establish the impact of testing on the health of Polynesians. “These results and the paucity of data justify the need to consider other approaches in order to assess the health consequences of the fallout from nuclear tests in French Polynesia.“, he specifies.
However, he noted a very high incidence of thyroid cancer in French Polynesia. “Over the period 1998-2002, it was even the highest in the world, along with that of New Caledonia“.
But the experts do not establish a proven link with nuclear tests, and also point to other risk factors for the pathologies observed, such as smoking, heavy alcohol consumption or obesity.
This study does not cover all the potential health consequences of nuclear tests: the authors specify that they have studied the consequences of ionizing radiation, but not the psychosocial effects, nor the chemical toxicity of radionuclids.
In its conclusions, the report recommends improved health surveillance of non-communicable pathologies, such as cancer, cardiovascular disease and congenital anomalies. He considers it necessary to refine the estimates of doses received by the local population.
Finally, it proposes to carry out an attentive and rigorous watch of the international scientific literature on the effects of low doses of ionizing radiation.