I just received this: Apparently the left wing party in Saarland, Germany, wants to know whether fewer girls are being born around nuclear power plants. Scientifically, there seems to be some evidence that the X-Chromosome gets destroyed quite easily even at already low levels of radiation. The politician who demands this is called Ensch-Engel, and he basically said that (liberally translated): „Because of the closeness to the nuclear power plant Cattenom, it is possible that the gender distribution in Saarland may be subject to alarming changes.“

I live in Luxembourg, which is as close to Cattenom as the German region Saarland, and oddly more girls have been born in my group of friends than boys. Clearly, this is unlikely to be a representative sample, but a quick analysis of the children below one year living in the German regions around Cattenom is enlightening. I find it surprising that a politician cannot do this himself, it took me like 10 minutes. In any case, here are the results.

Basically, in the whole of Germany, 51.27% of children below one year are boys. In Saarland, respectively Merzig-Wadern or Saarlouis, the German regions closest to Cattenom, this number is 51.82, 51.57 and 52.08. Now, I would not call these numbers alarming, but they are marginally higher. If we take a 99% confidence interval of all regions in Germany, then this amounts from 51.05 to 51.5. Each of the regions with close proximity to Cattenom is above this confidence interval, which basically means that, statistically speaking, it is likely that fewer girls are born close to Cattenom.

As a disclaimer, this number is very small. In addition, it could still be due to other statistical irregularities or effects.

Still, a quick check with google shows that this is apparently not only the case around Cattenom, but also across many different regions that are close to nuclear power plants in various countries, see e.g. HERE.  While I would really advice noone to call this difference alarming in any sense, the worrying question is still: Assume radiation reduces the number of girls being born. Then this means that the radiation, despite it being more than 50km away from nuclear plants and being thus really minuscule, still has an impact on our DNA. I would call this the worrying issue! Who knows what else it then may impact…

Persons below 1 year (source: Regionalstatistik Germany)
Total Percent
Total boys girls boys girls
Germany 663026 339973 323053 51.2760 48.7240
Saarland 7062 3660 3402 51.8267 48.1733
Merzig-Wadern, Landkreis 795 410 385 51.5723 48.4277
Saarlouis, Landkreis 1390 724 666 52.0863 47.9137
boys girls
99% Confidence upper 51.5048 48.9528
Interval lower 51.0472 48.4952