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Fallout Studies

Recent and Current Studies of Radioactive Fallout

Radiation Epidemiology Branch (REB) investigators are conducting studies related to regions affected by radioactive fallout from nuclear weapons testing.

Study of Radiation Doses and Cancer Risks Resulting from the 1945 "Trinity" Atomic Weapon Test

Investigators from REB and across the NCI are estimating radiation doses from fallout in New Mexico following the July 1945 test by the U.S. government of the first atomic weapon. The test was code-named “Trinity”. The study will quantitatively estimate the number of cancer cases in New Mexico (past and future) that may be related to the nuclear test.

Republic of the Marshall Islands

REB estimated radiation dose and risk from atmospheric nuclear weapons tests conducted in the Republic of the Marshall Islands from 1946 through 1958. This effort included a detailed assessment of all historical and contemporary measurements of environmental radiation on all atolls of the Marshall Islands as well as the use of a model of atmospheric dispersion and deposition. Results from these analyses were published in the August 2010 issue of Health Physics.

Semipalatinsk Nuclear Test Site (SNTS), Kazakhstan

REB is estimating the radiation doses from fallout in Kazakhstan resulting from atmospheric nuclear weapons tests conducted at the Semipalatinsk Nuclear Test Site (SNTS), Kazakhstan between 1949 and 1962. The methodology of dose estimation has been developed by a joint American-Russian collaboration.

Completed studies and risk tools: Reconstruction of radiation exposures from fallout from nuclear weapons tests

Thyroid dose risk calculator

While radioactive fallout from nuclear weapons tests and potential fallout-related health effects to exposed populations have been of concern for more than 50 years, a systematic program to study and understand those effects was not initiated until the early 1980s. In recent years, REB has contributed detailed estimates of geographic region-specific fallout exposures from atmospheric nuclear weapons tests conducted at the Nevada Test Site (NTS) and disseminated them in the form of a web-based thyroid dose and risk calculator, which can be used to estimate an individual's thyroid dose and cancer risk from Iodine-131 in fallout.

Dose and risk tables

In cooperation with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, REB estimated for the first time radiation doses and risks of related health effects to representative persons in all counties of the contiguous United States from a set of important radionuclides produced from testing of nuclear weapons from 1951 through 1962 by the United States and other nations.