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The US may have killed 15,000 of it's own with nuclear tests.
February 28, 2002 6:04 PM   Subscribe

The US may have killed 15,000 of it's own with nuclear tests. Somewhere around 100,000 people died as a result of the bombs dropped by the US over Hiroshima and Nagasaki. A new study shows that back home in the heart of the U.S., fallout from Cold-War nuclear tests may have killed as many as 15,000 people. This would be front page news everywhere if it had happened all at once - but since it took years for these people to die - it will barely be a blip in the history books.
posted by stevengarrity (8 comments total)

 
wonder how many of those people smoked
posted by techgnollogic at 7:15 PM on February 28, 2002


This report is rather fuzzy. Very likely it extrapolates deaths linearly from ionizing radiation exposure. It does not say.

Last I recall, cancer risk is non-linear relative to ionizing raditation exposure.

I read elsewhere in some newspaper while flying across the US today that the "risk" from nuclear tests is comparable to one chest x-ray per year. Now, for comparison this is exactly what I recall a coast to coast flight is worth.
posted by Real9 at 7:40 PM on February 28, 2002


There's no correlation between smoking and thyroid cancer. However, there is between thyroid cancer and certain types of radiation.
posted by kittyloop at 7:46 PM on February 28, 2002


Over-reading the report. The 15,000 deaths are not only extrapolated, they're attributed in aggregate to all atmospheric testing of nuclear weapons by all states, not just the US. That includes the USSR and Britain, both specifically cited in the article. (The French tested at Kerguélen, which is in the far southern hemisphere. Australia may have a beef with them ...)
posted by dhartung at 8:28 PM on February 28, 2002


This would be front page news everywhere if it had happened all at once - but since it took years for these people to die - it will barely be a blip in the history books.

Y'know, like smoking or car accidents.

If they didn't blow up in a firey ball on TV, the deaths aren't worth prevention (or going to war over).
posted by kfury at 11:25 PM on February 28, 2002


May I recommend "Refuge" by Terry Tempest Williams as a look (in part) into one family's ordeal.
posted by fold_and_mutilate at 1:12 AM on March 1, 2002


It's been long suspected that many movie stars - including John Wayne - who died of cancer were exposed to radioactive fallout while filming near and around the Nevada desert test sites.
posted by gsh at 10:47 AM on March 1, 2002


Here are some related links:

'A Feasibility Study of the Health Consequences to the American Population of Nuclear Weapons Test Conducted by the United States and Other Nations' (PDF) (Institute for Energy and Environmental Research)

The accompanying fallout maps (2.35MB PDF)

The accompanying fact sheet

The accompanying press release

'Estimated Exposures and Thyroid Doses Received by the American People from Iodine-131 in Fallout Following Nevada Atmospheric Nuclear Bomb Tests' (National Cancer Institute report from 1997)

'Cancer linked to cold war bomb tests' (today's UK Guardian)

Nuclear Explosions Database (Geoscience Australia)

'Gallery of US Nuclear Tests' (Federation of American Scientists links)

posted by Owen Boswarva at 3:14 PM on March 1, 2002


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