As I have developed my literacy in thyroid disease, I have become more concerned for our community. More concerned with how thyroid disease has developed, not just by genetics, but also by exposures to elements humans should not be exposed to. Our community has been exposed to different levels of radioactive materials since the early 40s' due to the Hanford Nuclear Site. This has inspired me to ask questions such as, "Did exposures to radioactive materials increase thyroid disease in our area?" I know this question has been asked, not just by myself, but also by others living in the Columbia Basin. Most of these people live the every day fight of thyroid disorders.
Research done by the Hanford Thyroid Disease Study(HTDS) from 1988 to 2002 found that Hanford's release of radioactive iodine-131 into the environment had "no effect on the health of the area population"(Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center). But this report also states that if there is an increase risk of thyroid disease from exposure to Hanford's iodine-131 it is probably too small to observe using the methods available to this research team.
Both my daughter and I struggle with the every day symptoms of thyroid disorders. My daughter, who was born in Richland, was first diagnosed with hypothyroidism when she was just 5 years old. My literacy in thyroid disease is what actually pushed me, as a parent, to get her tested. If it wasn't for my literacy I probably would have never known why my daughter was tired and cold all the time, or why she wasn't developing as well as other kids her age. In this way I'm thankful for my literacy and can only ask more questions about why thyroid disorders are becoming more of the "norm".
Due to my literacy and the community that surrounds me I have been motivated to further my academics in the medical field. Our community has two different things going for them in the Columbia Basin. The growing medical community or working out in the area (Hanford). Even though Hanford has come along way since the 40s' and 50s'. I truly feel that the Columbia Basin should have a larger medical community with more specialist to help aid in the growing health issues. At this time Hanford is claiming that none of their releases of iodine-131 to the environment had affects on our community. So all I can do at this time is continue with my goal to be a Physician Assistant.