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The Assessment of Radiation Exposures in Native American Communities from Nuclear Weapons Testing in Nevada


Abstract and Figures

Native Americans residing in a broad region downwind from the Nevada Test Site during the 1950s and 1960s received significant radiation exposures from nuclear weapons testing. Because of differences in diet, activities, and housing, their radiation exposures are only very imperfectly represented in the Department of Energy dose reconstructions. There are important missing pathways, including exposures to radioactive iodine from eating small game. The dose reconstruction model assumptions about cattle feeding practices across a year are unlikely to apply to the native communities as are other model assumptions about diet. Thus exposures from drinking milk and eating vegetables have not yet been properly estimated for these communities. Through consultations with members of the affected communities, these deficiencies could be corrected and the dose reconstruction extended to Native Americans. An illustration of the feasibility of extending the dose reconstruction is provided by a sample calculation to estimate radiation exposures to the thyroid from eating radio-iodine-contaminated rabbit thyroids after the Sedan test. The illustration is continued with a discussion of how the calculation results may be used to make estimates for other tests and other locations.
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Risk Analysis, Vol. 20, No. 1, 2000
0272-4332/00/0200-0101$16.00/1 © 2000 Society for Risk Analysis
The Assessment of Radiation Exposures in Native American
Communities from Nuclear Weapons Testing in Nevada
Eric Frohmberg,
Robert Goble,
Virginia Sanchez,
and Dianne Quigley
Native Americans residing in a broad region downwind from the Nevada Test Site during the
1950s and 1960s received significant radiation exposures from nuclear weapons testing. Be-
cause of differences in diet, activities, and housing, their radiation exposures are only very
imperfectly represented in the Department of Energy dose reconstructions. There are impor-
tant missing pathways, including exposures to radioactive iodine from eating small game. The
dose reconstruction model assumptions about cattle feeding practices across a year are un-
likely to apply to the native communities as are other model assumptions about diet. Thus ex-
posures from drinking milk and eating vegetables have not yet been properly estimated for
these communities. Through consultations with members of the affected communities, these
deficiencies could be corrected and the dose reconstruction extended to Native Americans. An
illustration of the feasibility of extending the dose reconstruction is provided by a sample calcu-
lation to estimate radiation exposures to the thyroid from eating radio-iodine-contaminated
rabbit thyroids after the Sedan test. The illustration is continued with a discussion of how the
calculation results may be used to make estimates for other tests and other locations.
Native American; dose reconstruction; radiation; nuclear testing; Nevada
The Nevada Test Site (NTS) was selected in 1950
as the prime U.S. continental location for nuclear
weapons testing. In part it was chosen for “its climate,
remoteness, the low population density in the area,
and the fact that the adjoining Nellis Air Force Base
Bombing and Gunnery Range . . . minimized risk to
public safety while providing added security.
stantial amounts of radiation were released from nu-
clear weapons tests and this radiation traveled long
distances. Hence remoteness and low population
density did not mean there were no significant expo-
sures. Faced with public concerns and lawsuits, the
Department of Energy (DOE) began in 1979 its esti-
mates of radiation doses from nuclear weapons test-
ing at NTS, with the Off-Site Radiation Exposure Re-
view Project (ORERP).
The ultimate goal was to be able to estimate the potential
dose to any person who lived in an area where fallout
from the NTS was deposited, based on that person’s age,
occupation, and place of residence. Both external and in-
ternal doses were to be considered and the calculations
were to use actual data (as opposed to assumed values) if
appropriate data could be found. (3, p. 470)
This was the first of DOE’s major dose recon-
structions, estimates of the radiation exposures that
people may have received from living downwind of
nuclear production and testing.
As such it was a
major accomplishment and had considerable influence.
The models developed were used as templates for
Maine Bureau of Health, Augusta, ME (present address) and
Clark University, Worcester, MA.
Clark University, Center for Technology, Environment, and De-
velopment of the George Perkins Marsh Institute, Worcester,
MA 01610.
Citizens Alert–Native American Project.
Clark University, Worcester, MA.
102 Frohmberg
et al.
other dose reconstructions, such as the Hanford En-
vironmental Dose Reconstruction Project, and pro-
vided experience in collecting and evaluating a wide
variety of historical data.
Because it was early in
the learning process there were also difficulties and
deficiencies in the effort. The computational effort
was very complex and is thus difficult to adapt to an-
swering new questions. The importance of public in-
volvement in obtaining information, in reviewing the
models, in interpreting results, and in developing
public confidence in the results
was not recognized.
No concerted effort was made for identifying sub-
populations with special lifestyle characteristics, de-
spite the strong influence lifestyle, especially diet, had
on exposure. Some recent efforts at dose reconstruc-
tion for native populations are described by Harris
and Harper and by Simon and Graham.
more, at that time stakeholder involvement in plan-
ning and design of the study as contemplated, for in-
stance, in the NAS report
Understanding Risk
explored to some extent in later Hanford studies,
was not even considered.
Fig. 1. Traditional lands of the Western Shoshone and Southern Paiutes. The Nevada Test Site is shown in the
center; two arrows indicate the most frequent wind directions for nuclear tests, chosen to avoid transport in
the direction of major southwestern cities.
Radiation Exposures in Native Americans 103
Among the populations with the largest expo-
sure to nuclear testing were Western Shoshone and
Southern Paiutes. Their traditional lands are shown
in Fig. 1. The lands surround the Nevada Test Site and
occupy the areas that were downwind for most of the
tests. Isopleths for external radiation exposures from
nuclear weapons testing at NTS to date are shown in
Fig. 2. The two figures together suggest that radiation
exposures to Western Shoshone and Southern Paiute
communities may be of concern and raise the further
concern of whether the ORERP dose reconstruction
provides an adequate description of such exposures.
This paper explores these two concerns by at-
tempting to answer the following questions:
1. Were significant radiation exposures received
by members of Western Shoshone and South-
ern Paiute communities as a result of nuclear
weapons testing in Nevada?
2. Does DOE dose reconstruction provide an
adequate basis for assessing these exposures?
3. Can the inadequacies of the dose reconstruc-
tion be remedied by using information that
DOE has already?
4. On the basis of presently available informa-
tion, approximately how severe were the ra-
diation doses received by community mem-
bers, particularly those doses not adequately
described in the DOE dose reconstruction?
5. Assuming additional information will be
needed for any dose reconstruction, what is a
suitable approach to obtaining such informa-
tion and to designing the dose reconstruction?
Fig. 2. Spatial distribution of the cumulative external exposures from nuclear weapons testing at the Nevada Test Site through the period of
testing (1951–1972) as estimated in the ORERP. The heaviest exposures occur downwind in the directions indicated by the arrows in Fig. 1.
104 Frohmberg
et al.
Although our analysis directed to the first four
questions is conducted by using methods compatible
with the DOE reconstruction, we expect that cre-
ation of a dose reconstruction that will be useful to af-
fected communities will involve a reformulation of
the questions asked and, correspondingly, adjust-
ments to the analytical methods and the information
base. Such reformulations have not been made by
communities around the test site, and our concern in
question (5) is with who participates in designing and
conducting studies.
The DOE Dose Reconstruction for the Nevada
Test Site was the first major effort by DOE to compile
estimates of radiation doses resulting from its facili-
ties. Like other efforts, it was developed in response
to expressed public concerns and actual or potential
lawsuits. The methods used and the models devel-
oped have strongly influenced subsequent dose re-
construction efforts. The initial challenge was to as-
sess the historical information available for its
suitability in estimating doses. As described by Thomp-
son and McArthur:
Ideally, dose calculations for areas affected by fallout
from nuclear tests at the NTS would be based on exter-
nal radiation exposures and on levels of radiation in
the air, food, and water consumed by residents in the
days and weeks after a test. Although these quantities
were measured in some places and for some tests, there
were not enough such data to allow all the necessary
doses to be calculated. Instead a computational scheme
was developed that used historical data on fallout dep-
osition as the fundamental data set and used computer
models of ingestion, inhalation, and external exposure
as the mechanism for calculating dose . . . (p. 470)
Accordingly, the historical data base included
(1) extensive but scattered measurements of radia-
tion and radioactivity after the tests; these measure-
ments were, however, taken for other purposes than
assessing doses to members of the population; and
(2) survey information on agricultural practices and
markets and on lifestyles of the exposed population.
The computational scheme used this information to
develop estimates of external and internal doses. Ex-
ternal doses were based on measurements of total
radioactivity after each test. Internal doses used the
same deposition data and depended on models for
food production and consumption based on the sur-
vey data. The DOE dose reconstruction did not pro-
vide for significant public participation in the design
of the study or in the development of its informa-
tion; nor did it provide for any participation in the
review of the methods and models or in the assess-
ment of results.
Native Americans were not included in the sur-
veys and the dose reconstruction did not specifically
identify Native American lifestyle characteristics, in-
cluding agricultural, hunting and gathering practices
and diets. When asked to provide dose estimates to
representative members of Native American commu-
nities, DOE gave estimates for a “shepherd lifestyle”
as representative of an outdoor lifestyle.
The DOE estimates indicate that external whole
body exposures were significant, on the order of 10
mSv (1 Rem), for residents of many Native American
communities such as Duckwater, Ely, and Moapa,
and external exposures at some locations off-site in
Nevada and Utah were substantially greater.
ternal dose estimates for most organs were smaller;
however, doses to the thyroid were as much as .1–.2
Sv (10–20 Rem) for adults, and in excess of 1 Sv (100
REM) for small children.
There is substantial un-
certainty in these estimates as well as considerable in-
terindividual variability in the doses received by indi-
viduals residing in the same location at the same
However, quantitative estimates of the uncer-
tainty and variability are not routinely provided in
the ORERP materials.
How well do the dose estimates for the shepherd
lifestyle represent what happened to Native Ameri-
cans at the various locations? The lifestyle may de-
scribe external exposures with reasonable accuracy.
Before concluding this, however, several questions
should be answered. One is to what extent the mobil-
ity of these populations, who traveled extensively to
hunt, gather pine nuts, and visit relatives, affects ex-
posure estimates based on residence. In particular,
hunting and gathering pine nuts may have led people
to travel relatively close to the NTS. A second ques-
tion is whether terrain and special meteorological
conditions (such as fog) will have systematic effects
on deposition at locations—particularly high altitude
The next highest internal doses were to the lower digestive tract,
which reflects the passage of a variety of insoluble radionuclides.
The importance of distinguishing uncertainty from variability is
discussed at length in the National Academy report Science and
Judgment in Risk Assessment.
Variability represents actual dif-
ferences in people’s experience, whereas uncertainty represents
lack of knowledge. The two have very different implications in
most practical situations.
Radiation Exposures in Native Americans 105
locations—which were used by people but remote
from the roads where radiation measurements were
made. It is clear from experience with Chernobyl
and from acid deposition studies
that there can be
very substantial local variation in amounts deposited.
A third question is whether other specific aspects of
lifestyle affect external exposures significantly: did
the use of fur and fresh basket material contribute
significantly to exposure? The effect of taking these
issues into account will surely be to increase the esti-
mated variability in doses; it may increase the mean
dose estimates as well.
For internal exposures, the shepherd lifestyle is
clearly unrepresentative: it ignores the contribution
of hunting to the diet; this represents a missing path-
way from the DOE analysis. It is very likely that the
DOE assumptions about how cattle and other live-
stock were fed during the year do not apply,
and the
DOE-assumed seasons for vegetables may not de-
scribe the collecting and eating of both fresh produce
and wild vegetation within the native communities.
Furthermore, the assumptions about variability in
diet and in other individual characteristics must be
examined anew for these populations. As a result the
DOE estimates for internal doses cannot be relied
upon; they are almost certainly underestimates be-
cause they neglect the important pathway of hunting
and because the communities’ cattle feeding prac-
tices rely less on stored feed.
Two kinds of adjustments are needed in the dose
reconstruction models: (1) models for missing path-
ways must be added, and (2) the included pathway
models must be corrected to reflect Native American
practices. The initial step must be a pathway analysis.
This can be done effectively only in collaboration
with the affected communities. Simon and Graham
observed at the conclusion of their work on dose as-
sessment from nuclear weapons testing in the Mar-
shall Islands:
The single most important conceptual requirement for
conducting valid assessments is recognizing important
exposure pathways. . . . One lesson learned repeatedly
in Marshall Islands studies has been to rely on local ex-
pertise to provide information important to acquiring
an understanding of pathways. No better information
can be produced than that provided by the population
whose quality of life is under examination. (p. 453)
The ORERP modeling approach can be adapted
naturally to an appropriate revision of the pathway
analysis. This is because the DOE dose reconstruc-
tion creates an estimate of the amount of fallout for
each test over the geographical areas of concern and
because amounts of fallout are the starting point for
estimating doses through all pathways. New informa-
tion that pertains to each pathway is needed on how
members of the Native American communities lived
during the periods of testing. The required informa-
tion can be developed reliably only by the commu-
nities. Furthermore, it is important to remember
that lifestyles may well be different in different
communities and among different tribes. Such in-
formation will vary by season and includes key ele-
ments of diet including practices in hunting and
preparing game, agricultural practices, livestock
management, and the collection of wild plants. Fac-
tors affecting external exposures include housing
characteristics and outdoor living practices and the
use of various natural materials. Members of the
communities may have traveled substantially to
hunt and to gather pine nuts, and many community
members may have moved during the periods of
testing. Therefore, information from the communi-
ties about people’s movements may also be needed
to relate to the geographical distribution of fallout
from the various tests.
Hunting and eating game is at least one major
pathway that does not appear in the present version
of the model. To demonstrate the feasibility of adjust-
ing the dose reconstruction, we present an illustrative
model developed with particular Western Shoshone
and Southern Paiute communities for one particular
hunting pathway.
Small game, especially rabbit,
was an important
staple in the Western Shoshone and Southern Paiute
For instance, Shoshone cattle supplying milk to community resi-
dents—the most important ORERP pathway—were grazing for
more of the year than the ORERP assumptions indicate.
Details on this model and the numerical assumptions appear in
the MA thesis of Eric Frohmberg.
Other important animals hunted and eaten include Yellow-Bel-
lied Marmot (
Marmota flaviventris
, locally called groundhogs),
various species of ground squirrel (
Spermophilus spp.
), porcu-
pines, sage hen, blue grouse, and dove.
106 Frohmberg
et al.
diets during the period of testing. We have learned
from the affected communities that very little of the
animals was wasted, and, in particular, that the ani-
mal thyroids were routinely eaten.
On the basis of in-
formation from community members on rabbit hunt-
ing and on a set of measurements of radio-iodine in
vegetation and in rabbit thyroids collected by DOE
after the Sedan nuclear test in July 1962, we have con-
structed an illustrative model for radiation doses to
the thyroid from eating jackrabbits.
The model has three components: (1) a vegeta-
tion submodel, which describes variations in the
amount of radio-iodine in vegetation and its disap-
pearance with time; (2) a rabbit thyroid submodel,
which relates the amount of radio-iodine in the rabbit
thyroid to the amounts of radio-iodine in vegetation;
and (3) a human dose model, which relates the dose
to the human thyroid to the amount of radio-iodine
in the rabbit thyroid. The third submodel uses Dun-
ning and Schwart’s ingestion dose coefficients
estimate human doses. The three submodels are illus-
trated schematically in Figs. 3, 4, and 5.
After the Sedan test in 1962, DOE collected
data on radio-iodine concentrations in vegetation
and in rabbit thyroids at four locations (Groom Val-
ley, Penoyer Valley, Railroad Valley, and Currant)
for several weeks.
These data were used to de-
fine the vegetation and rabbit submodels. The ap-
proximate locations where vegetation and rabbit
thyroid data were collected after the Sedan test are
shown in Fig. 6.
The vegetation submodel has three components:
(1) a lognormal distribution fit to the data of Turner
and Martin
describing the initial concentrations of
radioactive iodine in vegetation at each of the four lo-
cations; (2) a lognormal distribution again represent-
ing a fit to the data of Turner and Martin
and describ-
ing weathering rates of the iodine from the vegetation;
and (3) the radiological half-life of iodine-131, which
is approximately 8 days.
The rabbit submodel uses the vegetation sub-
model as an input. It has four additional components:
(1) a vegetation ingestion rate for the rabbits eating
vegetation, chosen to be a narrow lognormal distribu-
tion following an argument of Turner;
only limited
data are available on this factor; (2) a thyroid uptake
factor representing the amount of ingested iodine
that is absorbed and stored in the thyroid; again little
data are available. We created a lognormal distribu-
tion by modifying Turner’s argument
to use only
absorption data pertaining to jackrabbits; (3) a bio-
logical half-life or excretion rate; again we modified
Turner’s estimated distribution
by using only data
for jackrabbits in creating a lognormal distribution
for this quantity; and (4) the half life for iodine-131.
The human submodel has two components: (1) a
distribution describing a range of estimates for the
number of rabbits people ate per week—this was
based on a small survey of Western Shoshone and
Southern Paiute community members and should
not be regarded as having general application; and
(2) dose-conversion estimates relating amounts of
iodine ingested to doses; the coefficients and the log-
normal distribution describing their variability were
Fig. 3. Schematic illustrating the vegetation submodel.
Cleaning methods minimize waste. A rabbit, marmot, or ground
squirrel is gutted by removing the intestines through a slit either
in the stomach or under the armpit. The intestines are discarded.
Organs not discarded include the heart, lungs, liver, and upper
gastrointestinal tract (including the esophagus and associated or-
gans like the thyroid). When a larger mammal (such as a deer) is
harvested, the esophagus would be removed and discarded be-
cause of its large size and ease of removal. As the esophagus is re-
moved the thyroid would likely also be removed.
The Western Shoshone eat both black-tailed jackrabbits (
and white-tailed jackrabbits (
Lepus townsendii
They also eat various species of cottontail rabbits (
). Most of the measurements from the Sedan test were on
jackrabbits and we use properties of jackrabbits (such as weight
and weight of thyroid) in constructing the model. Cottontails and
other small mammals would give similar results per weight of
animal (amount of food provided).
The Sedan test on July 6, 1962, was one of the largest tests at NTS.
It was an approximately 100-kton test designed to produce a large
crater. Sedan was part of the Plowshare project testing the use of
nuclear weapons for excavation.
Although large, the test was not
considered one of the dirtier tests (in terms of total U.S. fallout).
Fig. 4. Schematic illustrating the rabbit submodel.
Radiation Exposures in Native Americans 107
taken from Dunning and Schwarz.
These estimates
and their variability have been reviewed by Ng;
they are similar to those found in ICRP 56 and Sny-
der et al.
Predicted values from the vegetation and rabbit
submodels were compared with measured concentra-
tions of radio-iodine in vegetation and in rabbit thy-
roids for the four locations and for the various times
of measurements (extending over 30 days after the
Sedan test) with the data of Turner and Martin.
average—for each location and time period—the
predictions and data agreed within a factor of 3 and
there were no obvious biases. The models thus pro-
vide a consistent representation of these data.
Developing illustrative dose estimates in steps is
convenient. The dose to an individual from eating one
rabbit after a test such as the Sedan test will depend on
the location from which the rabbit was taken—because
the amount of fallout was different at different loca-
tions; it will depend on the amount of time that elapsed
after the test before shooting the rabbit—because
radio-iodine first is added to the thyroid as the rabbit
eats contaminated vegetation but then declines as the
concentrations on vegetation decline from weathering
and radioactive decay and as radio-iodine is lost from
the rabbit by excretion and radioactive decay. The dose
also depends on the age of the individual. Similarly,
there will be considerable variability in the dose re-
ceived from one rabbit compared with another, which
reflects the variability described in each of the three
submodels. An interesting initial step is to calculate the
dose to an individual from eating one rabbit at the time
a few days after the test when the concentrations of io-
dine in the rabbit thyroid were at their highest.
• The average (mean) such dose to an adult
years old) from eating a Groom Valley
rabbit a few days after the Sedan test was ap-
proximately 10 mSv (1 REM) whereas 5% of
adults would have had doses of approximately
30 mSv (3 REM). The mean dose to a small
child (
–2 years old) from one Groom Valley
rabbit would have been 90 mSv (9 REM),
whereas 5% of children would have had doses
of 0.3 Sv (30 REM).
At Currant the corresponding (mean and 5th
percent) a doses a few days after the Sedan test
were .6 mSv (60 mrem) and 2 mSv (200 mrem),
whereas the small child doses were 5 mSv (0.5
REM) and 16 mSv (1.6 REM), respectively.
There was even more variability in the expected
doses people received from eating rabbits after the test
because there was variability in the time after the
Fig. 6. Approximate locations where data were collected on con-
centrations of I-131 in vegetation and rabbit thyroids after the
Sedan nuclear test in 1962.
Fig. 5. Schematic illustrating the human submodel.
108 Frohmberg
et al.
test when a particular rabbit may have been con-
sumed, and there was also variability in the frequency
with which people ate rabbits. As an illustration of
the range of doses expected and their dependence on
time after the test, we show in Figs. 7 and 8 daily dose
estimates for a 3-year-old child (
–2 years old) con-
suming rabbit portions over time after the Sedan test,
again for rabbits taken from Groom Valley (Fig. 7)
and from Currant (Fig. 8). We use the survey results
to estimate frequency of eating rabbits.
Accumulated doses from eating rabbits after the
Sedan test may be found by summing the daily values.
The result is approximately a factor of 3 times the peak
dose from one rabbit described previously. Thus,
The accumulated dose to be expected for typical
consumption of rabbits taken from Groom Val-
ley after the Sedan test is approximately 30 mSv
(3 REM) for an average adult and .1 Sv (10
REM) for the most exposed 5%; the accumu-
lated dose for small children is approximately
0.25 Sv (25 REM) for the average child and .8
Sv (80 REM) for the most exposed 5th percent
The accumulated dose to be expected for typical
consumption of rabbits taken from Currant
after the Sedan test is approximately 1.8 mSv
(180 mrem) for an average adult and 6 mSv (.6
REM) for the most exposed 5%; the accumu-
lated dose for small children is approximately
15 mSv (1.5 REM) for the average child and 50
mSv (5 REM) for the most exposed 5th percent.
The model results may be used at other loca-
tions and for other tests by multiplying the results by
the ratio of the amount of radio-iodine in fallout at
the location and test of concern to the amount of
radio-iodine in fallout for the Sedan test at Groom
Valley or Currant.
The ORERP data base con-
tains this information.
Making these adjust-
ments will require combining the ORERP estimates
of aggregate radioactive deposition for each nuclear
test with test-specific multipliers developed by
for estimates of the amount of each radio
nuclide deposited. A coherent development of this
method, which should be pursued in the context of a
revised dose reconstruction, would compare Martin
and Turner’s measurements and measurement
at the four locations with the ORERP
and Hicks measurements, measurement methods,
and interpolation, both in that region and over the
Fig. 7. The distribution of daily dose estimates (mSv) for a 1-year-old child eating rabbits taken from Groom
Valley after the Sedan test according to the survey of rabbit consumption. Shown are 5th percentile, 50th per-
centile, mean, and 95th percentile estimates.
Radiation Exposures in Native Americans 109
time periods and regions of interest. Such analysis
should provide an indication of the deposition mea-
surement component of the uncertainty in dose esti-
mates; however, that analysis was beyond the scope
of this project. The following calculation for accu-
mulated exposures at Duckwater illustrates the ap-
proach and will give a reasonably good approxima-
tion to the results that can be expected to be
obtained. Again, this approach should be based on
community-specific information.
At Duckwater, the fallout amounts from the
Sedan nuclear test were similar to the
amounts at Currant. This can be observed by
comparing both external doses and thyroid
doses from the ORERP database for both
Currant and Duckwater for the Sedan test.
The ratio of the DOE-estimated median adult
thyroid doses (through other pathways), which
are proportional to the amount of iodine in fall-
out summed over 11 tests, to the DOE thyroid
dose estimate for the Sedan test is approxi-
mately 90. Two of these tests, George (June
1951) and Apple II (May 1955), had thyroid
doses approximately 24 times that for Sedan.
So to estimate doses from eating rabbits from
a number of tests at Duckwater, one multi-
plies the Currant dose estimates for Sedan by
a factor of 90. This yields adult doses of 160
mSv (16 REM) and 500 mSv (50 REM) (mean
and most exposed 5%, respectively) and child
doses of 1.3 Sv (130 REM) and 4 Sv (400
REM), respectively, for the 11 tests.
To obtain dose estimates for George or for
Apple II, one multiplies the Currant dose esti-
mates for Sedan by a factor of 24. This yields
adult doses of 40 mSv (4 REM) and 120 mSv
(12 REM) (mean and most exposed 5%, re-
spectively) and child doses of 0.3 Sv (30 REM
and 1 Sv (100 REM), respectively, for each of
these tests.
These thyroid dose estimates are substantial.
The range of adult dose estimates for eating rabbits
from Duckwater extends above the DOE dose esti-
mate covering all pathways. The small child doses ex-
ceed the average doses observed in the Utah epide-
miological study, which found increased rates of
thyroid cancer.
They are also greater than the
lowest levels at which thyroid cancers have been at-
tributed to exposure from Chernobyl.
The whole
body doses estimated by DOE overlap the range in
which leukemias were found in Utah.
Fig. 8. The distribution of daily dose estimates (mSv) for a 1-year-old child eating rabbits taken from Currant
after the Sedan test according to the survey of rabbit consumption. Shown are 5th percentile, 50th percentile,
mean, and 95th percentile estimates.
110 Frohmberg
et al.
In the introduction we listed five questions to be
answered in the paper. The answers given may be sum-
marized as follows:
1. Native American community members living
in their ancestral lands received substantial
exposures from Nuclear Weapons testing at
the Nevada Test Site.
2. These exposures are not adequately de-
scribed by DOE’s dose reconstruction: (1)
missing pathways include iodine exposures
from the hunting of small game; (2) the model
assumptions about the feeding of cattle that
provide dairy products do not generally apply;
and (3) assumptions about other food path-
ways may also not apply.
3. The information base collected by DOE is not
adequate to address these important aspects
of a dose reconstruction, and this failing
stems from the lack of participation by Native
community members in the collection, inter-
pretation, and planning for the use of key in-
formation about lifestyles and concerns.
4. Approximate estimates of radiation doses to
thyroids received from eating rabbit thyroids
can be estimated on the basis of scattered data
from DOE studies and information selectively
gathered from affected communities. We have
presented illustrative calculations showing
that these exposures were severe.
5. A successful dose reconstruction, i.e., a dose
reconstruction that is both useful and reason-
ably accurate, can be achieved only with ac-
tive participation by members of the affected
It is worth noting some of the questions we have not
answered in this paper:
We did not provide a corrected dose recon-
struction. The dose estimates we present are il-
lustrative on the basis of small samples and
special cases of test site experience. Our pur-
pose here was simply to display the gap be-
tween the present dose reconstruction and ac-
tual experience, to show that the actual
experience was radiologically significant, and
to show that a technical basis for developing
the needed exposure models is available.
We did not describe a detailed methodology
for revising the dose reconstruction. That task
includes (1) defining how to usefully character-
ize dose information, including uncertainties;
and (2) establishing sources and procedures
for obtaining pathway and other needed data.
We did not address community concerns about
the legacy of radioactive contamination that
extend beyond questions about historical ex-
posures immediately following nuclear tests.
Information developed from dose reconstruc-
tion will be part of the history of the affected commu-
nities. Individuals may wish to know about their own
exposures and about the nature of the exposures that
occurred in their communities from nuclear weapons
testing. Even at this late date, knowledge of radiation
doses may be helpful in developing mitigation mea-
sures such as medical monitoring. And the information
could be used as a basis for assigning compensation to
people or communities injured by the exposures.
These possible uses exemplify the importance of hav-
ing the communities maintain an active role in the
creation of the study. When and what sort of medical
monitoring could help depends on community char-
acteristics and community medical needs. The suit-
ability and appropriateness of compensation for past
wrongs vexes many Native communities and differ-
ent communities with different histories may react
differently. The fact that the initial dose reconstruc-
tions were constructed while the U.S. government
was denying legal responsibility for harm caused by
nuclear testing has not helped create confidence in
the usefulness of dose reconstruction efforts.
Dose reconstruction for these communities is
feasible as demonstrated by the illustrations we have
presented. But such reconstruction will require par-
ticipation and collaboration in developing informa-
tion appropriate to the variety of affected communi-
ties. Furthermore, successful completion of dose
reconstructions for communities will occur only with
substantial participation and collaboration with the
communities in formulating the important questions
to be answered and the design and implementation of
the studies along with the development of the needed
information base.
This research was supported in part by funds
from the National Institute of Environmental Health
Sciences (NIEHS) Environmental Justice–Partnerships
in Communication (RFA-ES-94-005), and The Com-
Radiation Exposures in Native Americans 111
prehensive Environmental Response Compensation
and Liability Act (CERCLA) Trust Fund through a
cooperative agreement with the Agency for Toxic
Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) Tribal
Environmental Health Education Program. Addi-
tional funding was provided by the Childhood Cancer
Research Institute, the Ruth Mott Fund, the Public
Welfare Foundation, the W. Alton Jones Foundation,
the North Shore Unitarian Universalist Veatch Pro-
gram, and the Ben and Jerry’s Foundation.
We are grateful to the Ely-Shoshone Tribe and
the Native American Nuclear Risk Management
Community Advisory Committee for information,
advice, and encouragement. Kim Townsend and
Maurice Frank provided detailed information on
hunting and cleaning of game. David Wheeler and the
Las Vegas Office of DOE provided ORERP results
and helped us understand them. Dan Handy, Do-
minic Golding, Dale Hattis, Doug Brugge, and Peter
Ford have advised and assisted us. We also appreciate
the observations of three anonymous referees.
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... Collaborative fieldwork using TEK describes harvest-based monitoring as the "long-term collection of data and samples from a subsistence harvest in order to reveal, document, and track changes in biophysical resources" [1] (p. 421). The TEK approach was well-received and has been utilized to support similar studies [8,[12][13][14][15][16]. For example, ecology conservation field studies have used TEK or similar methods to document, characterize, and explain anthropogenic impacts to Indigenous resources [13][14][15][16], and have been utilized in the conservation of folk taxonomy, species management and protection, fish management, climate change, and environmental health studies [8,[12][13][14][15][16]. ...
... The TEK approach was well-received and has been utilized to support similar studies [8,[12][13][14][15][16]. For example, ecology conservation field studies have used TEK or similar methods to document, characterize, and explain anthropogenic impacts to Indigenous resources [13][14][15][16], and have been utilized in the conservation of folk taxonomy, species management and protection, fish management, climate change, and environmental health studies [8,[12][13][14][15][16]. ...
... The TEK approach was well-received and has been utilized to support similar studies [8,[12][13][14][15][16]. For example, ecology conservation field studies have used TEK or similar methods to document, characterize, and explain anthropogenic impacts to Indigenous resources [13][14][15][16], and have been utilized in the conservation of folk taxonomy, species management and protection, fish management, climate change, and environmental health studies [8,[12][13][14][15][16]. ...
Full-text available
Collaborative research between scientists and local community members is often required to collect needed study samples and inform the overall study. This is particularly true in Indigenous communities where local knowledge and practices are integral to data collection, analysis, and dissemination. This study reports on a traditional ecological knowledge (TEK) collaborative methodological approach utilized for data collection in this unique community. In collaboration with Diné (Navajo) tribal harvesters and leaders in northwestern New Mexico, participants were recruited utilizing chain-referral recruitment and selection from a preexisting cohort. The research examined the extent of metal(loid) contamination in the primary food chain in a uranium (U) mining impacted area. Key food chain items (sheep, squash, herbal tea plants), water, and livestock forage samples were collected and determined for metal(loid)s (cesium, cadmium, molybdenum, lead, thorium, U, vanadium, arsenic, and selenium). This paper reports on the five-step process employed that involved local Diné food harvesters incorporating indigenous TEK and practices with Western science-based knowledge and practices. The five steps of harvest-based monitoring are: (1) identify goal and research questions, (2) design the study according to Diné and scientific protocols, (3) determine respective collaborative roles during fieldwork, (4) implement the fieldwork, and (5) analyze and disseminate the findings. Collaborative work supported constructs of respectfulness, trust, kinship, enhanced communication, and provided better understanding of contamination by researchers, community members, and leaders. The study allowed for the collection of baseline data and realistic reassessment goal recommendations for the future.
... A study by Tsuji et al. [27] found food-sharing behavior to be common in a North American Indigenous community impacted by mining in a traditional-use territory in Canada. These types of food-sharing behaviors were found to be related to the harvesting of subsistence-type of foods that were found to have a direct exposure impact beyond the mining communities and were considered to be important for assessing and monitoring impacted communities [44], with a special interest in vulnerable groups (children and older tribal members) [45]. Using Geographic Information System (GIS) mapping, the above study [27] demonstrated that longstanding harvesting areas overlapped significantly with contaminated areas and that several important potential routes of exposure were identified and characterized (e.g., ingestion of contaminated foods and drinking water). ...
Full-text available
The objective of this study was to determine uranium (U) and other metal(loid) concentrations (As, Cd, Cs, Pb, Mo, Se, Th, and V) in eight species of plants that are commonly used for medicinal purposes on Diné (Navajo) lands in northwestern New Mexico. The study setting was a prime target for U mining, where more than 500 unreclaimed abandoned U mines and structures remain. The plants were located within 3.2 km of abandoned U mines and structures. Plant biota samples (N = 32) and corresponding soil sources were collected. The samples were analyzed using Inductively Coupled Plasma–Mass Spectrometry. In general, the study findings showed that metal(loid)s were concentrated greatest in soil > root > aboveground plant parts, respectively. Several medicinal plant samples were found to exceed the World Health Organization Raw Medicinal Plant Permissible Level for As and Cd; however, using the calculated human intake data, Reference Dietary Intakes, Recommended Dietary Allowances, and tolerable Upper Limits, the levels were not exceeded for those with established food intake or ingestion guidelines. There does not appear to be a dietary food rise of metal(loid) ingestion based solely on the eight medicinal plants examined. Food intake recommendations informed by research are needed for those who may be more sensitive to metal(loid) exposure. Further research is needed to identify research gaps and continued surveillance and monitoring are recommended for mining-impacted communities.
... By speaking with sheep farmers, he realized that they had knowledge essential to understanding the dose of radiation received by sheep in that part of England (Wynne, 1998). This disconnect has been manifested repeatedly and "local knowledge" has been identified as valuable to policy making in a variety of contexts (Corburn, 2005;Frohmberg, Goble, Sanchez, & Quigley, 2000). ...
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Over the past four decades, the promise of public participation to improve decisions, obtain legitimacy, and build capacity for risk decision making and management has had a mixed record. In this article, we offer a narrative of how public participation has evolved in the United States and we examine prospects for its future. We trace three forces that have had significant impact on practice: an emergent emphasis on democratic deliberation, a transition from dichotomous thinking about science versus politics to an integrated perspective, and the recognition that different parties to the decision‐making process bring valid epistemological contributions. The promise of public participation in risk decision making is challenged by loss of trust in institutions and individuals and by broad socio‐political dynamics that are weakening democratic values and processes. These include the scarcity of attitudes and aptitudes supportive of public participation among both individuals and institutions; an anti‐democratic political atmosphere that promotes disrespect; pursuit of private interests over the common good; failure to appreciate the limitations of dialogue and learning; underutilization of existing knowledge; and insufficient knowledge of how context matters. We end by offering several suggestions for focusing further research and improving practice.
... Though AI people experience a variety of environmental hazards, the primary ecological challenges documented in the literature include issues related to energy development, resource extraction, toxic waste, and military operations (Blackford, 2004;Brook, 1998;Gowda & Easterling, 2000;Hooks & Smith, 2004;Hoover et al., 2012;Ishiyama, 2003;Vickery & Hunter, 2014;Zaferatos, 2006). As an illustration, Hooks and Smith (2004) (Frohmberg et al., 2000). Perhaps the most documented instance of environmental injustice are the abuses related to uranium mining on AI reservations. ...
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A safe, sustainable water source is an essential element of any healthy community. For over three decades the Kickapoo Tribe in Kansas has had limited success in achieving water security on their reservation. Water quality concerns coupled with climate change and recent droughts in the region have continued to expose the Tribe’s vulnerabilities to environmental change. The present study used a community-based participatory research method known as Photovoice to engage members of the Kickapoo Tribe in an exploratory investigation of environmental changes in water and its relationship to health and well-being. Participants of the study were self-identified Kickapoo people who worked, lived, or participated in social activities on the reservation. Using Photovoice participants documented the significance of water, and its relationship to their community’s health and well-being. The photographs and accompanying narratives aimed to support the Kickapoo people in telling their story of how environmental changes in water influence their interactions with water, and the potential implications it has for the health and well-being of their Tribe. The findings detail how water is fundamental to the lives of the Kickapoo people, and exposes the scope of possible health hazards related to water insecurity in their community. Additionally, the study illustrates how CBPR methods are a viable way to partner with tribes to support them in documenting their concerns about environmental issues that can then inform practice and policy within a culturally relevant context.
... The downwind communities are those within a 200-mile radius of the NTS, principally to the north and east. Note there are other "downwinders" including Native Americans (Frohmberg et al. 2000) and military veterans who participated in training at the NTS (Gallagher 1993) not addressed herein. ...
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The Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) conducted more than 100 atmospheric atomic detonations at the Nevada Test Site (NTS) between 1951 and 1962 depositing radioactivity throughout the United States but particularly the rural communities just “downwind.” The monitoring of radioactivity and efforts to warn downwind residents, however, failed to ensure their safety. I engage in archival analysis of AEC documents to examine decision making in reference to radioactive fallout. In recounting the socionatural history of atmospheric testing at the NTS, the present study argues operational conduct was lethargic due to the adoption of specious organizational heuristics. They included the assumption that fallout is subject to predictable atmospheric dispersion; fallout has noncumulative, undifferentiated effects on people; and downwind residents were prone to unreasoning panic. Thus AEC officials were continually chasing problems after they arose and in the absence of containment of fallout focused on containment of public perception and dialogue. The study concludes by highlighting the lessons relevant to contemporary sociotechnical activities.
The Northeast Ethics Education Partnership (NEEP), jointly coordinated by Brown University and SUNY-ESF from 2010 to 2017, organized and implemented short- and long-course training on research ethics and cultural competence to graduate students at four universities in the fields of environmental sciences/studies and engineering. This article provides findings from student evaluations of these ethics trainings which inform areas that students found useful to their careers, particularly for learning about their respective disciplines’ moral standards, codes, and ethical theories. In the post-assessment evaluations, NEEP findings indicate that collective concerns about environmental research will involve more study and analysis of moral reasoning for balancing the needs of diverse stakeholders and nonhuman life forces. Additionally, students believed that ethical research approaches will require much more attention to complexity and multiple dimensions of research impacts to humans, land and species. These findings support more extended development of new standards and norms for individual researcher ethics, for substantive ethics, and for political ethics as part of applied ethics in environmental studies and sciences. More interdisciplinary collaboration and ethical analysis of field and case studies are recommended for this development.
Sandy beaches along coasts and bays are prime real estate for houses and condominiums, marinas, recreation, and tourism for people living in urban and suburban areas within a hundred km of coasts. Human encroachment and disturbance can be a determinant of success of animals in human-impacted systems, particularly shorebirds. Understanding perceptions of people visiting critical habitats can aid in conservation of shorebirds and associated ecosystems, as well as improving the human experience. This paper examines valuation of ecological resources and ecocultural attributes of visitors to 9 beaches on the New Jersey shore of Delaware Bay during a shorebird migratory stopover period. Ecocultural attributes are those cultural activities or experiences that require an intact ecosystem to be optimal, including activities of recreational, aesthetic or spiritual importance. Using a Likert scale, interviewees (N = 279) rated the importance of shorebirds and/or horseshoe crabs Limulus polyphemus, ambiance, existence, aesthetics, the beach itself, and recreational activities (photography, birding, and fishing) to the Bay and to their experience. Although shorebirds/crabs were rated as most important (mean rating well over 4.0 out of 5); ecocultural attributes (ambience, existence, aesthetics, the beach itself) were rated higher (rating well over 3) than recreation, hardcore or casual birding, photography (meaning rating around 3) and fishing (rating less than 2). Although some ratings of these resources and attributes were positively correlated, many values for birds and/or crabs were not correlated with the ecocultural attributes. Women rated most resources and ecocultural attributes higher than did men, and older people rated them higher than younger interviewees. It was unexpected that the ecocultural attributes played so heavily in the attractiveness of the beach. The importance and implication of these findings are discussed for management and conservation of these beaches, including the importance of ecocultural resources within a context of local community involvement.
Environmental justice concerns are raised when environmental risks and hazards are inequitably distributed across society. Native American populations have long been at the center of environmental justice disputes, however relatively little quantitative research has examined how Native Americans view the risks related to the siting of a potentially hazardous facility. Combining 35 statewide surveys collected from 1990 to 2001, the following study explores the risk perceptions of Native American populations in New Mexico regarding the storage of nuclear waste. We find that Native Americans tend to have higher perceptions of risk regarding the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) facility than white respondents. We also explore variation within self-identified Native American respondents and find that older males tended to perceive less risk associated with WIPP and Native American respondents in counties with Navajo reservations tended to perceive more risk. These findings help in understanding how Native Americans perceive risk as it relates to environmental and energy issues.
To meet society’s need to better understand and respond to ever-more complex, interwoven problems of environment, development, and society—including environmental health risks, climate change adaptation, and sustainable development—we applied an integrative frame to re-imagine, re-design, and deploy a professionally oriented, academically rigorous 2-year/12-unit Master of Science program. Our scholar–practitioner faculty uses the framework to tackle complex, real-world problems, emerging from a strong interdisciplinary ethos. It thus acts as a pragmatic system to guide pedagogy, curriculum, research and practice, and student experience. The frame weaves together six domains (6-D): (1) project framing, concept, and design; (2) development topics and sectors; (3) stakeholder interests, assets, and relationships; (4) knowledge types, disciplines, models, and methods; (5) variable temporal and spatial scales and networks; and (6) socio-technical capacities. At our institution, the need to replace 2.0 of 3.5 tenure/tenure-track program faculty posed both a challenge and an opportunity to re-think one of the oldest environmental science and policy programs in the USA which began in 1971. We pose and answer: What kinds of integrative educational experience, curriculum, and research practicum can best prepare environmental MS students in the twenty-first century? Two examples—one domestic, one international—illustrate the practicum.
Definition of the Subject and Its ImportanceRadioactivity in the environment is ubiquitous. From the first moments of time during formation of the universe, elementary particles (protons, neutrons, and electrons) underwent nuclear reactions to produce elements and isotopes, forming all matter in the universe, on a time frame that extends billions of years. Elementary particles formed into nuclear configurations (atoms), consisting of protons and neutrons in the central core (nucleus) surrounded by electrons. By convention, configurations with the same number of protons in the nucleus are termed elements, which are the building blocks of all matter. All elements have members with varying numbers of neutrons in the nucleus, termed isotopes. Some configurations are stable, meaning that they had achieved an optimum number of protons and neutrons in the nucleus. Some configurations were formed with excess protons or ex ...
Objective. —To estimate individual radiation doses and current thyroid disease status for a previously identified cohort of 4818 schoolchildren potentially exposed to fallout from detonations of nuclear devices at the Nevada Test Site between 1951 and 1958.Design. —Cohort analytic study.Setting. —Communities in southwestern Utah, southeastern Nevada, and southeastern Arizona.Participants. —Individuals who were still residing in the three-state area (n=3122) were reexamined in 1985 and 1986, and information on the subjects' and their mothers' milk and vegetable consumption during the fallout period was obtained by telephone interview (n=3545). After exclusions to eliminate missing data and confounding factors, 2473 subjects were available for analysis.Main Outcome Measures. —Individual radiation doses to the thyroid were estimated by combining consumption data with radionuclide deposition rates provided by the US Department of Energy and a survey of milk producers. Relative risk models adjusted for age, sex, and state were fitted using maximum likelihood to period prevalence data for thyroid carcinomas, neoplasms, and nodules.Results. —Doses ranged from 0 mGy to 4600 mGy, and averaged 170 mGy in Utah. There was a statistically significant excess of thyroid neoplasms (benign and malignant; n=19), with an increase in excess relative risk of 0.7% per milligray. A relative risk for thyroid neoplasms of 3.4 was observed among 169 subjects exposed to doses greater than 400 mGy. Positive but nonsignificant dose-response slopes were found for carcinomas and nodules.Conclusions. —Exposure to Nevada Test Site—generated radioiodines was associated with an excess of thyroid neoplasms. The conclusions are limited by the small number of exposed individuals and the low incidence of thyroid neoplasms.(JAMA. 1993;270:2076-2082)
A method was developed to reconstruct the internal radiation dose to off-site individuals who were exposed to fallout from nuclear weapons tests at the Nevada Test Site (NTS). By this method, committed absorbed doses can be estimated for 22 target organs of persons in four age groups and for selected organs of the fetus. Ingestion doses are calculated by combining age-group dose factors and intakes specific for age group, test event, and location as calculated by the PATHWAY food-chain model. Inhalation doses are calculated by combining age-group dose factors and breathing rates, and time-integrated air concentrations that are derived from the ORERP Air-Quality Data Base. Dose estimates are calculated for the radionuclides that contribute significantly to the total dose; these number 20 via the ingestion pathway and 46 via the inhalation pathway. Internal doses to nonspecified individuals and nonspecified fetuses are being reconstructed for each location in the ORERP Town Data Base for which exposure rates and cloud-arrival times are listed. Examples of reconstructing internal dose are presented. This method will also be adapted to reconstruct internal doses from NTS fallout to specific individuals in accordance with the person's age, past residence, life-style, and living pattern. (C)1990Health Physics Society
Previous studies reported an association between leukemia rates and amounts of fallout in southwestern Utah from nuclear tests (1952 to 1958), but individual radiation exposures were unavailable. Therefore, a case-control study with 1177 individuals who died of leukemia and 5330 other deaths (controls) was conducted using estimates of dose to bone marrow computed from fallout deposition rates and subjects' residence locations. A weak association between bone marrow dose and all types of leukemia, all ages, and all time periods after exposure was found. This overall trend was not statistically significant, but significant trends in excess risk were found in subgroups defined by cell type, age, and time after exposure. The greatest excess risk was found in those individuals in the high-dose group with acute leukemia who were younger than 20 years at exposure and who died before 1964. These results are consistent with previous studies and with risk estimates for other populations exposed to radiation. (JAMA. 1990;264:585-591)
The uptake and retention of radioiodine by thyroids of jack rabbits were studied in relation to deposition and persistence of radioiodine on native vegetation. Four areas were examined in the Sedan fallout pattern, and two in the less well-defined Small Boy pattern. In each of the four study areas contaminated by Sedan fallout, five or more stations were established. Plant samples and rabbits were collected near each station at 5-day intervals between D + 5 and D + 30 and again at D + 60. Plants, stomach contents, and thyroids were analyzed for radioiodine. Levels of radioiodine on plants collected from 20 to 30 miles north of Sedan ground zero 5 days after the test ranged from 0.1 to 22.4 m mu C/g. In areas 40 miles north of ground zero, levels of from 0.4 to 3.7 m mu C/g were encountered 5 days after the test. Seventy miles north of ground zero, levels ranged from 0.5 to 1.0 m mu C/g 5 days after the test. In the most remote area examined, 110 miles north of ground zero, native vegetation showed levels of radioiodine ranging from 0.1 to 0.6 m mu C/g 5 days after the test. The radioiodine was determined to be I/sup 131/ by analysis of decay curves of samples counted repeatedly. Between 5 and 20 days after the test, the meam half time of I on vegetation was 5.5 days. Approximately the same rate of loss was observed in all four study areas. The rate of loss of radioiodine from plant samples after collection and processing was compared with the physical decay rate of I/sup 131/ in order to test the validity of decay corrections of counts made several weeks after collection (based on a half life of 8.04 days). Only a small number of samples were so analyzed and the results were inconclusive. However, there were indications that collecting and processing techniques might be advantageously modified in future studies to prevent loss of iodine by volatilization. Radioiodine analyses were made of the stomach contents of rabbits collected in the four study areas. The amount of I/sup 131/ declined with distance from ground zero, but was lower than in plant samples collected 25 and 110 miles from ground zero and higher than in plant samples taken 40 to 70 miles from the crater. Iodine-131 in jack rabbit thyroids was greatest in the areas closest to ground zero and declined with distance. In areas about 20 miles north of ground zero, thyroid burdens ranged from 23 to 5931 m mu C/g 5 days after the test. Forty miles from grouod zero, thyroid radioiodine ranged from 10 to 2880 m mu C/g at D + 5. At the same time, thyroid levels from 17 to 1126 m mu C/g and from 21 to 203 m mu C/g were observed 70 and 110 miles north of ground zero. Thyroid radioiodine declined with time in all areas. The assimilability of fallout radioiodine on native vegetation was estimated by artificial feeding experiments. Samples of native plants were returned to Los Angeles, analyzed for radioiodine content, and fed to Dutch rabbits in known amounts. Iodine-131 uptake and retention in thyroids ranged from about 2 to 12%. Mean uptake was significantly higher from samples taken within 20 miles of ground zero (12%) than from more remote areas (average of 3 areas was 3.5%). Comparison of observed levels of thyroid I/sup 131/ with levels predicted by a mathematical model (based on measured contamination of vegetation and estimates of assimilability), showed that, in general, the observed levels were higher than those predicted. The discrepancies are great enough to imply either a flaw in the model used or a serious error in estimating one or more of the input parameters. The estimated parameters most likely to be in error are deemed to be the amount of radioiodine ingested and the efficiency of uptake and retention. Following the Small Boy test on July 14, radioiodine levels on vegetation in Delamar Valley, about 75 miles northeast of ground zero, ranged from 0.1 to 1.1 m mu C/g. Near Fruitland, Utah, about 380 miles to the northeast, vegetation samples contained from 0.2 to 0.9 m mu C/g and thyroids from 87 to 222 m mu C/g, five days after the test. (auth)
This report documents all announced continental tests from September 15, 1961 through December 12, 1988, from which radioactive effluent was released. General information listed for each event includes the date, location, type of test, sponsoring laboratory and/or agency, purpose, yield range, extent of the release, and type of release. A summary of each release incident by type of release is included. For an event-time release, the effluent curies are expressed at R+12 hours; for controlled releases from tunnel events, the effluent curies are expressed at both time of release and at R+12 hours, if available. All other types are listed at the time of the release. A qualitative statement of the isotopes in the effluent is included for event-time and controlled releases, and a quantitative listing is included for all other types. Offsite release information includes the cloud direction, maximum activity detected in the air offsite, maximum gamma exposure rate detected offsite, maximum iodine level detected offsite, and maximum distance radiation was detected offsite. A final summary includes whatever other pertinent information was available for the release(s) associated with each event. This document includes effluent release information for 313 events, only 52 of which were detected offsite.
The Acidic-Deposition Phenomenon and Its Effects: Critical Assessment Document (CAD) is a summary, integration, and interpretation of the current scientific understanding of acidic deposition. It is firmly based upon The Acidic Deposition Phenomenon and Its Effects: Critical Assessment Review Papers (CARP), PB85-100030 and PB85-100048, a multi-authored comprehensive critical review of the published scientific literature of the atmospheric phenomena and effects of acidic deposition, augmented by additional current scientific references. The authors of this integrative summary attempted to draw together and interpret evidence from disparate sections of the CARP. Reference is made, where possible, to CARP sections providing information for the CAD analyses; citations are made to additional references. Quotations and paraphrases of conclusions and observations from the CARP provide much of the material in the CAD. As such, they represent the conclusions of the CARP authors interpreted by the CAD authors. Some additional evidence has been developed by the CAD authors, and the conclusions drawn from this information are solely those of the CAD authors.
The accident at Chernobyl constituted the largest release of radioactivity ever recorded in a single technological accident. It was caused by a combination of design and management errors, and produced a highly variable pattern of fallout, strongly correlated with local rainfall. Even at 1500 km, fallout in some places far exceeded the levels recorded during the period of atmospheric nuclear weapons testing. The burden of 31 acute deaths was surprisingly small, and was limited to emergency workers who had to cope with the fire at the plant. The cost of potential chronic health effects, including as many as 28,000 cancers worldwide, in contrast, is surprisingly large, and is localized in Soviet Europe and non-Soviet Europe in approximately equal parts. The author discusses how the pattern of dispersion and exposure due to Chernobyl demands reconsideration of emergency planning for nuclear power stations, not only in the Soviet Union, but also in the West. Revised emergency plans should involve the combination of decentralized and centralized response efforts capable of providing not only acute risk management but also adequate protection against chronic exposure, particularly via ingestion.
EPA's Risk Assessment Guidance for Superfund (RAGS) and later documents provide guidance for estimating exposures received from suburban and agricultural activity patterns and lifestyles. However, these methods are not suitable for typical tribal communities whose members pursue, at least in part, traditional lifestyles. These lifestyles are derived from a long association with all of the resources in a particular region. We interviewed 35 members of a Columbia River Basin tribe to develop a lifestyle-based subsistence exposure scenario that represents a midrange exposure that a traditional tribal member would receive. This scenario provides a way to partially satisfy Executive Order 12898 on environmental justice, which requires a specific evaluation of impacts from federal actions to peoples with subsistence diets. Because a subsistence diet is only a portion of what is important to a traditional lifestyle, we also used information obtained from the interviews to identify parameters for evaluating impacts to environmental and sociocultural qualify of life.
A methodology is being developed to estimate the exposure of Americans to 131I originating from atmospheric nuclear weapons tests carried out at the Nevada Test Site (NTS) during the 1950s and early 1960s. Since very few direct environmental measurements of 131I were made at that time, the assessment must rely on estimates of 131I deposition based on meterological modeling and on measurements of total beta activity from the radioactive fallout deposited on gummed-film collectors that were located across the country. The most important source of human exposure from fallout 131I was due to the ingestion of cows' milk. The overall methodology used to assess the 131I concentration in milk and the 131I intake by people on a county basis for the most significant atmospheric tests is presented and discussed. Certain aspects of the methodology are discussed in a more detailed manner in companion papers also presented in this issue. This work is carried out within the framework of a task group established by the National Cancer Institute.