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Study to Estimate Radiation Doses and Cancer Risks Resulting from Exposure to Radioactive Fallout from the Trinity Nuclear Test


In July of 1945, the U.S. government tested the first atomic weapon in south-central New Mexico. The test was code-named Trinity. The National Cancer Institute (NCI) carried out a study to quantitatively estimate the range of possible radiation-related cancer cases in New Mexico that may be related to the nuclear test. To accomplish this task, the research team used published data on radioactive fallout from the test as well as descriptions of the typical diet and lifestyle of people living in New Mexico in 1945. These data were drawn from the published literature and collected through targeted interviews among senior residents in New Mexico.

Information for Journalists

To request an interview with a DCEG investigator, contact the NCI Office of Media Relations:


Phone: 240-760-6600

The NCI conducted in-depth interviews to ascertain the typical diet of Native American, Hispanic, and white populations living in New Mexico in the mid-1940s. These interviews were essential for developing estimates of low and intermediate radiation doses resulting from Trinity.

To determine how best to collect these data, NCI investigators engaged in discussions with academic experts in Native American and Hispanic lifestyles in the 1940s, as well as advocates and local community leaders. NCI partnered with a key community group to facilitate the identification of elders who could contribute their historical knowledge regarding lifestyle and diet at the time of the Trinity test.

The investigators published their findings on September 1, 2020, in the journal Health Physics. These papers are free and open to the public. 

Upon publication, NCI investigators held briefings to share study results with tribal communities, congressional staff, and local stakeholders. Watch lead investigator Dr. Steven Simon's (retired) presentation of the results.

The list of papers is as follows:

Read the Community Summary:

View a Spanish translation of this page: Estudio para calcular las dosis de radiación y los riesgos de cáncer por la exposición a la lluvia radioactiva de la prueba nuclear "Trinity"