Toxic flights

Published: Tuesday 15 February 2005

Haze of pollutants at a Baikon Children in parts of Siberia near the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan are suffering serious health problems due to pollution caused by unburned rocket fuel. This fuel is sprayed by rockets launched at the cosmodrome, used by the Russian space agency Rosaviakosmos, the European Space Agency (esa) and the us- based nasa . But neither of the organisations takes responsibility for the menace, according to a January 12 report in the science journal Nature .

The children's health problems have been highlighted in an unpublished study by researchers from Vector, the State Research Centre of Virology and Biotechnology in Novosibirsk. "The level of some diseases such as endocrine and blood disorders in polluted areas is more than twice the regional average, they say," Nature reports. Some scientists allege being harassed and arrested on raising the issue. Rosaviakosmos rejects the study's findings. nasa claims a "positive progress" in pollution reduction and esa says it is not responsible as it just buys the cosmodrome's services.

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