For immediate release Contact Joseph Mangano 609-399-4343 Sharon Cunningham 647-477-5672
June 3, 2009 – A fast, inexpensive test that determines elevated thyroid stimulating hormone, an indcator that the thyroid gland may be under stress, will be available at a public event later this month. The ThyroChek testing program will examine if persons living near the Indian Point nuclear plant have higher than normal levels of TSH.
The test uses a drop of blood from a finger stick to determine whether the level of thyroid stimulating hormone is normal, in just 10 minutes. The test will be available at the Clearwater Festival in Croton-on-Hudson the weekend of June 20-21. Screening Devices Canada, which manufactures the FDA regulated test in California, will have professional staff available to explain the importance of thyroid health, administer the test, and provide results on the spot. The cost is $10.
The information from the two day testing program may provide information on whether emissions from the Indian Point nuclear reactors are affecting the thyroid glands of people who live in the vicinity. The percent of tests indicating elevated TSH in local residents will be compared with results of other populations living far from reactors. Indian Point produces and emits radioactive iodine particles; when they enter the body, they attack thyroid cells, leading to cancer and other problems like hypothyroidism.
“ThyroChek is an easy way to study a serious public health issue,” says Joseph Mangano, Executive Director of the Radiation and Public Health Project. He adds there are no standard screening programs for thyroid health in the U.S., even though the rate of thyroid cancer has nearly tripled since 1980. Experts believe that hypothyroidism rates have soared as well. No single blood test can determine thyroid cancer but a TSH test may be used to evaluate the thyroid’s activity and test for hypothyroidism, a common disease of the thyroid. There are about 30 million Americans with hypothyroidism, a disease that if not detected and treated may lead to cardiac disease, reproductive issues, mental health concerns, obesity and a variety of autoimmune diseases.
Official statistics indicate that the 2001-2005 thyroid cancer rate in counties closest to Indian Point are nearly double the U.S., and among the highest in the nation. The annual U.S. rate of 8.9 per 100,000 persons is exceeded in Rockland, Putnam, Orange, and Westchester Counties (18.3, 18.0, 16.6, and 12.6, or 106%, 102%, 87%, and 42% higher). About 300 residents in these counties are diagnosed with thyroid cancer each year.
“As a local family practice physician, I see a high number of people with thyroid disorders,” says Susanne Saltzman MD. “When I discovered that nuclear power plants routinely emit radioactive iodine, which damages thyroid tissue, I became very concerned that Indian Point might be contributing to the higher rates of thyroid problems in the Hudson River Valley. Studies must be done to evaluate health effects of living near and downwind from Indian Point.”
Sharon Cunningham, president of Screening Devices Canada welcomes the opportunity to test at the Clearwater Festival. “By providing results on the spot, we will be able to educate on the importance of thyroid health and how the environment can affect it. More about thyroid health testing can be obtained from the company’s website, www.thyrochek.com.
Mangano says RPHP, which is a New York-based research group, plans to analyze the data, and announce results in the near future. More information on the Clearwater Festival is available at www.clearwater.org.