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Portugal: Increased Lung cancer risk uranium miners

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 

(December 4, 1997) A Portuguese investigation of a group of 15 workers in the uranium mines of Urgeiriça has proved chromosomal damage and an increase in the risk of lung cancer in uranium miners.

(482.4786) WISE Amsterdam -This study was published at the fourth Portuguese congress on radiation protection at the Dr. Ricardo Jorge national health centre in Lisbon. The study's author, José Pareira-Luis, has worked with a control group and a group of mineworkers who had worked an average of 25 years and were between 38 and 56 years of age. Both groups were carefully interviewed about food and smoking habits and checked for other diseases. The chromosomal changes in the mineworkers were dramatic and obivous, specifically the loss of the information exchange within the DNA. The found variations in the changes are explainable because of the differences in the working periods, the different tasks and the different sentiviness of the workers.

The increased risk to get lung cancer is probably a combination of factors, as exposure to for instance radon gas and other materials as rests of silicium and arsenium in the working place.

The portuguese state enterprise Empresa Nacional de Urânio (ENU) operates an uranium mill at Urgeiriça in the Beiras district. (Middle East of Portugal). The biggest part of the produced uranium is bought by the French utility Electricité de France.

Sources: CM Saude (Por.), 5 November 1997
Contact: WISE Uranium

Portugal U-mines. The Urgeiriça uranium deposit, which contains radium and uranium, was discovered in 1912. The radium was mined until 1944 and the uranium has been mined since 1951. Between 1945 and 1962 radiometric surveys were carried out in the Beiras districts. By 1961 the JEN had discovered about 100 uranium deposits in the districts of Beira and Alto Alentejo. Portugal reports total RAR (reasonable assured resources) of 8900 ton U at costs of $130/kgU or less. Of this, 7300 tU can be produced at $80/kgU or less. Between 1951 and 1992 3539 tU is produced and 109 tU from 1992 through 1995. Present production is about 25 tU/yr. IAEA/OECD Red Book 1995