National Academies Press: OpenBook
Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2003. Exposure of the American Population to Radioactive Fallout from Nuclear Weapons Tests: A Review of the CDC-NCI Draft Report on a Feasibility Study of the Health Consequences to the American Population from Nuclear Weapons Tests Conducted by the United States and Other Nations. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/10621.
×

EXPOSURE OF THE AMERICAN POPULATION TO RADIOACTIVE FALLOUT FROM NUCLEAR WEAPONS TESTS

A Review of the CDC-NCI Draft Report on a Feasibility Study of the Health Consequences to the American Population from Nuclear Weapons Tests Conducted by the United States and Other Nations

Committee to Review the CDC-NCI Feasibility Study of the Health Consequences from Nuclear Weapons Tests

Board on Radiation Effects Research

Division on Earth and Life Studies

NATIONAL RESEARCH COUNCIL OF THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES

THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES PRESS
Washington, D.C. www.nap.edu

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2003. Exposure of the American Population to Radioactive Fallout from Nuclear Weapons Tests: A Review of the CDC-NCI Draft Report on a Feasibility Study of the Health Consequences to the American Population from Nuclear Weapons Tests Conducted by the United States and Other Nations. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/10621.
×

THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES PRESS
500 Fifth Street, N.W. Washington, DC 20001

NOTICE: The project that is the subject of this report was approved by the Governing Board of the National Research Council, whose members are drawn from the councils of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the Institute of Medicine. The members of the committee responsible for the report were chosen for their special competences and with regard for appropriate balance.

This study was supported by DHHS contract 200-2000-00629, TO#5 between the National Academy of Sciences and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the organizations or agencies that provided support for the project.

International Standard Book Number 0-309-08713-9

Additional copies of this report are available from the
National Academies Press,
500 Fifth Street, N.W., Lockbox 285, Washington, DC 20055; (800) 624–6242 or (202) 334–3313 (in the Washington metropolitan area); Internet, http://www.nap.edu

Copyright 2003 by the National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.

Printed in the United States of America

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2003. Exposure of the American Population to Radioactive Fallout from Nuclear Weapons Tests: A Review of the CDC-NCI Draft Report on a Feasibility Study of the Health Consequences to the American Population from Nuclear Weapons Tests Conducted by the United States and Other Nations. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/10621.
×

THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES

Advisers to the Nation on Science, Engineering, and Medicine

The National Academy of Sciences is a private, nonprofit, self-perpetuating society of distinguished scholars engaged in scientific and engineering research, dedicated to the furtherance of science and technology and to their use for the general welfare. Upon the authority of the charter granted to it by the Congress in 1863, the Academy has a mandate that requires it to advise the federal government on scientific and technical matters. Dr. Bruce M.Alberts is president of the National Academy of Sciences.

The National Academy of Engineering was established in 1964, under the charter of the National Academy of Sciences, as a parallel organization of outstanding engineers. It is autonomous in its administration and in the selection of its members, sharing with the National Academy of Sciences the responsibility for advising the federal government. The National Academy of Engineering also sponsors engineering programs aimed at meeting national needs, encourages education and research, and recognizes the superior achievements of engineers. Dr. Wm.A.Wulf is president of the National Academy of Engineering.

The Institute of Medicine was established in 1970 by the National Academy of Sciences to secure the services of eminent members of appropriate professions in the examination of policy matters pertaining to the health of the public. The Institute acts under the responsibility given to the National Academy of Sciences by its congressional charter to be an adviser to the federal government and, upon its own initiative, to identify issues of medical care, research, and education. Dr. Harvey V.Fineberg is president of the Institute of Medicine.

The National Research Council was organized by the National Academy of Sciences in 1916 to associate the broad community of science and technology with the Academy’s purposes of furthering knowledge and advising the federal government. Functioning in accordance with general policies determined by the Academy, the Council has become the principal operating agency of both the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering in providing services to the government, the public, and the scientific and engineering communities. The Council is administered jointly by both Academies and the Institute of Medicine. Dr. Bruce M.Alberts and Dr. Wm.A.Wulf are chair and vice chair, respectively, of the National Research Council.

www.national-academies.org

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2003. Exposure of the American Population to Radioactive Fallout from Nuclear Weapons Tests: A Review of the CDC-NCI Draft Report on a Feasibility Study of the Health Consequences to the American Population from Nuclear Weapons Tests Conducted by the United States and Other Nations. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/10621.
×

COMMITTEE TO REVIEW THE CDC-NCI FEASIBILITY STUDY OF THE HEALTH CONSEQUENCES FROM NUCLEAR WEAPONS TESTS

WILLIAM J.SCHULL (Chair), Professor Emeritus,

School of Public Health, University of Texas, Houston, TX

BRUCE B.BOECKER, Scientist Emeritus,

Lovelace Respiratory Research Institute, Albuquerque, NM

A.BERTRAND BRILL,

Vanderbilt University Medical School, Nashville, TN

MELVIN W.CARTER, Neely Professor Emeritus,

Dunwoody, GA

SUE B.CLARK,

Washington State University, Pullman, WA

EDMUND A.C.CROUCH,

Cambridge Environmental Inc., Cambridge, MA

SHARON M.FRIEDMAN,

Lehigh University, Bethlehem, PA

KATHRYN A.HIGLEY,

Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR

SUSAN E.LEDERER,

Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, CT

MILTON LEVENSON,

Menlo Park, CA

HERWIG G.PARETZKE,

GSF-Institute of Radiation Protection, Neuherberg, Germany

BOBBY R.SCOTT,

Lovelace Respiratory Research Institute, Albuquerque, NM

ROY E.SHORE,

New York University School of Medicine, New York, NY

DANIEL O.STRAM,

University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA

NATIONAL RESEARCH COUNCIL STAFF

ISAF AL-NABULSI, Study Director

DIANNE STARE, Research Assistant

DORIS E.TAYLOR, Staff Assistant

NORMAN GROSSBLATT, Senior Editor

SPONSOR’S PROJECT OFFICER

JAMES SMITH,

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2003. Exposure of the American Population to Radioactive Fallout from Nuclear Weapons Tests: A Review of the CDC-NCI Draft Report on a Feasibility Study of the Health Consequences to the American Population from Nuclear Weapons Tests Conducted by the United States and Other Nations. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/10621.
×

BOARD ON RADIATION EFFECTS RESEARCH

S.JAMES ADELSTEIN (Chair),

Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA

R.J.MICHAEL FRY (Chair until 6/30/02),

Indianapolis, IN

JOEL S.BEDFORD,

Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO

VALERIE BERAL,

University of Oxford, Oxford, England

JAMES E.CLEAVER,

University of California Cancer Center, San Francisco, CA

SARAH S.DONALDSON,

Stanford University Medical Center, Stanford, CA

SHARON L.DUNWOODY,

University of Wisconsin, Madison, WI

EDWARD R.EPP, Professor Emeritus,

Harvard University, Boston, MA

HELEN H.EVANS (Member until 6/30/02),

Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, OH

DANIEL KREWSKI,

University of Ottawa, Ottawa, Canada

WILLIAM F.MORGAN,

University of Maryland, Baltimore, MD

THEODORE L.PHILLIPS,

University of California, San Francisco, CA

FRANKLYN G.PRENDERGAST,

Mayo Clinic Cancer Center, Rochester, MN

ANDREW M.SESSLER,

Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Berkeley, CA

DANIEL O.STRAM,

University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA

PAUL L.ZEIMER,

Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN

NATIONAL RESEARCH COUNCIL STAFF

EVAN B.DOUPLE, Director,

Board on Radiation Effects Research

RICK JOSTES, Senior Program Officer

ISAF AL-NABULSI, Senior Program Officer

CATHERINE S.BERKLEY, Administrative Associate

TAJUANA CLAYTON, Project Assistant

BENJAMIN HAMLIN, Research Assistant (until 12/13/02)

DIANNE STARE, Research Assistant

DORIS E.TAYLOR, Staff Assistant

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2003. Exposure of the American Population to Radioactive Fallout from Nuclear Weapons Tests: A Review of the CDC-NCI Draft Report on a Feasibility Study of the Health Consequences to the American Population from Nuclear Weapons Tests Conducted by the United States and Other Nations. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/10621.
×
This page in the original is blank.
Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2003. Exposure of the American Population to Radioactive Fallout from Nuclear Weapons Tests: A Review of the CDC-NCI Draft Report on a Feasibility Study of the Health Consequences to the American Population from Nuclear Weapons Tests Conducted by the United States and Other Nations. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/10621.
×

Preface

The years since World War II have seen the testing of hundreds of nuclear weapons. Many of those tests have led to the injection into the atmosphere of substantial amounts of radioactive material, some of which has fallen to Earth. As public awareness and concern mounted over the possible health hazards associated with exposure to this “fallout,” studies were initiated to assess the extent of the hazard. The studies failed to allay public concern, and further studies were begun in the 1980s to reevaluate the radiation exposures of the population after the weapons tests in Nevada. In 1983, Public Law 97–414, Section 7(a) directed the secretary of health and human services to conduct research into and develop estimates of the thyroid doses received by the American people from 131I (iodine-131) in fallout from the Nevada atmospheric tests. To that end, in 1983, the National Cancer Institute (NCI) established a task group to assist it in a program of technical and scientific work. The work of the task group was centered on 131I and the fallout arising from the weapons tests conducted by the United States. Its findings appeared as an NCI report titled Estimated Exposures and Thyroid Doses Received by the American People from Iodine-131 in Fallout Following Nevada Atmospheric Nuclear Bomb Tests (NCI, 1997). That publication did not address the risks associated with other radionuclides found in fallout or the contribution to exposures of global fallout stemming from weapons testing outside the US by the US and other nations, and these omissions became a matter of public concern.

In 1998, scientists at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the NCI were asked by the US Congress to assess the feasibility and public health implications of a detailed study of the health consequences for the American people of radioactive fallout from aboveground nuclear-weapons tests conducted in 1951–1962 by the United States and other nations.

In March 2002, the National Research Council’s Committee on An Assessment of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Radiation Studies from DOE Contractor Sites was called on to review a two-volume draft technical report of CDC-NCI titled A Feasibility Study of the Health Consequences to the American Population from Nuclear Weapons Tests Conducted by the United States and Other Nations. The draft report presents preliminary estimates of radiation doses of a set of important radionuclides received by the American people in the coterminous 48 states as a result of atmospheric nuclear-weapons tests. Because the purpose of

Page viii Cite
Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2003. Exposure of the American Population to Radioactive Fallout from Nuclear Weapons Tests: A Review of the CDC-NCI Draft Report on a Feasibility Study of the Health Consequences to the American Population from Nuclear Weapons Tests Conducted by the United States and Other Nations. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/10621.
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the project was to determine only the feasibility of a more-detailed study that might be carried out, those dose estimates are based on an initial review of the open literature and available dose-assessment methods.

The Research Council committee examined all the technical aspects of the CDC-NCI draft report, but, at the request of CDC, it focused its attention on the following four questions:

  1. Are the methods and sources of information used in the technical report to estimate radiation doses and health effects from fallout appropriate for this study?

  2. Are the methods and results clearly presented in the main text of the technical report?

  3. Are the findings presented in the report supported by the data and analyses provided?

  4. Do the Options for Future Work presented in Chapter 6 represent an appropriate range of options for public health activities that could be pursued as a result of this study?”

The present report sets forth in detail the committee’s response to its general charge and to the four questions specified above.

We deeply appreciate the dedication and hard work of the study director, Isaf Al-Nabulsi, and the administrative assistance of Dianne Stare and Doris Taylor. We also appreciate the contributions of members of CDC and NCI—specifically, André Bouville, Ethel Gilbert, Charles Miller, and Steve Simon—to the committee’s understanding of some aspects of the feasibility study. Finally, we acknowledge our indebtedness to Lynn Anspaugh and Harold Beck, who as consultants to the feasibility study, constituted a source of information for the NRC committee.

William J. Schull

Chair

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2003. Exposure of the American Population to Radioactive Fallout from Nuclear Weapons Tests: A Review of the CDC-NCI Draft Report on a Feasibility Study of the Health Consequences to the American Population from Nuclear Weapons Tests Conducted by the United States and Other Nations. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/10621.
×

Acknowledgments

This report has been reviewed in draft form by persons chosen for their diverse perspectives and technical expertise, in accordance with procedures approved by the National Research Council’s Report Review Committee. The purpose of this independent review is to provide candid and critical comments that will assist the institution in making the published report as sound as possible and to ensure that the report meets institutional standards of objectivity, evidence, and responsiveness to the study charge. The review comments and draft manuscript remain confidential to protect the integrity of the deliberative process. We wish to thank the following for their participation in the review of this report:

Harry M.Cullings, Hiroshima, Japan

John M.Flack, Detroit, MI

R.J.Michael Fry, Indianapolis, IN

F.Owen Hoffman, Oak Ridge, TN

Shawki Amin Ibrahim, Fort Collins, CO

Kenneth J.Kopecky, Seattle, WA

Michael T.Ryan, Charleston, SC

Joseph V.Smith, Chicago, IL

Although the reviewers listed above have provided many constructive comments and suggestions, they were not asked to endorse the conclusions or recommendations, nor did they see the final draft of the report before its release. The review of this report was overseen by David G.Hoel, Medical University of South Carolina and Maureen M.Henderson, University of Washington (Professor Emeritus) appointed by the National Research Council. They were responsible for making certain that an independent examination of the report was carried out in accordance with institutional procedures and that all review comments were carefully considered. Responsibility for the final content of the report rests entirely with the authoring committee and the NRC.

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2003. Exposure of the American Population to Radioactive Fallout from Nuclear Weapons Tests: A Review of the CDC-NCI Draft Report on a Feasibility Study of the Health Consequences to the American Population from Nuclear Weapons Tests Conducted by the United States and Other Nations. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/10621.
×
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Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2003. Exposure of the American Population to Radioactive Fallout from Nuclear Weapons Tests: A Review of the CDC-NCI Draft Report on a Feasibility Study of the Health Consequences to the American Population from Nuclear Weapons Tests Conducted by the United States and Other Nations. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/10621.
×

Contents

 

 

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

 

1

 

 

INTRODUCTION

 

9

   

BACKGROUND AND CONTEXT

 

9

   

THE CONGRESSIONALLY REQUESTED FEASIBILITY STUDY

 

13

   

THE NATIONAL RESEARCH COUNCIL’S INVOLVEMENT

 

13

 

 

THE COMMITTEE’S REVIEW

 

15

   

TECHNICAL APPROACH AND CONTENTS OF THE DRAFT REPORT

 

15

   

ASSESSMENT OF THE DOSE RECONSTRUCTION

 

16

   

Deposition Density of Nevada Test Site Fallout Radionuclides

 

17

   

External Doses from Nevada Test Site Fallout

 

18

   

Internal Doses from Nevada Test Site Fallout

 

19

   

Deposition Density of Global Fallout Radionuclides

 

19

   

External Doses from Global Fallout

 

20

   

Internal Doses from Global Fallout

 

20

   

DOCUMENT LOCATION AND RETRIEVAL

 

21

   

ASSESSMENT OF THE ESTIMATES OF CANCER RISK

 

22

   

THE VALUE OF FURTHER REFINEMENTS OF THE 131I NEVADA TEST SITE CALCULATIONS AND UNCERTAINTY ANALYSIS

 

26

   

Dosimetric Refinements

 

26

   

Epidemiologic Refinements

 

27

   

COMMUNICATION WITH THE PUBLIC ABOUT EXPOSURE AND CANCER RISK

 

29

   

Overview of the Proposed Communication Plan

 

30

   

The 131I/Nevada Test Site Communication Plan

 

30

   

Would Adapting the 131I/Nevada Test Site Communication Plan Work for the Feasibility Study?

 

31

   

Communication Issues for Option 1

 

31

   

COMMENTS ON THE OPTIONS FOR FUTURE WORK

 

32

 

 

COMMITTEE RECOMMENDATIONS

 

35

 

 

REFERENCES

 

38

APPENDIX A:

 

SPECIFIC COMMENTS

 

41

APPENDIX B:

 

COMMITTEE ACTIVITIES

 

50

 

 

GLOSSARY

 

53

 

 

COMMITTEE BIOGRAPHIES

 

65

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2003. Exposure of the American Population to Radioactive Fallout from Nuclear Weapons Tests: A Review of the CDC-NCI Draft Report on a Feasibility Study of the Health Consequences to the American Population from Nuclear Weapons Tests Conducted by the United States and Other Nations. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/10621.
×
This page in the original is blank.
Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2003. Exposure of the American Population to Radioactive Fallout from Nuclear Weapons Tests: A Review of the CDC-NCI Draft Report on a Feasibility Study of the Health Consequences to the American Population from Nuclear Weapons Tests Conducted by the United States and Other Nations. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/10621.
×
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Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2003. Exposure of the American Population to Radioactive Fallout from Nuclear Weapons Tests: A Review of the CDC-NCI Draft Report on a Feasibility Study of the Health Consequences to the American Population from Nuclear Weapons Tests Conducted by the United States and Other Nations. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/10621.
×
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Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2003. Exposure of the American Population to Radioactive Fallout from Nuclear Weapons Tests: A Review of the CDC-NCI Draft Report on a Feasibility Study of the Health Consequences to the American Population from Nuclear Weapons Tests Conducted by the United States and Other Nations. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/10621.
×
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Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2003. Exposure of the American Population to Radioactive Fallout from Nuclear Weapons Tests: A Review of the CDC-NCI Draft Report on a Feasibility Study of the Health Consequences to the American Population from Nuclear Weapons Tests Conducted by the United States and Other Nations. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/10621.
×
PageR4
Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2003. Exposure of the American Population to Radioactive Fallout from Nuclear Weapons Tests: A Review of the CDC-NCI Draft Report on a Feasibility Study of the Health Consequences to the American Population from Nuclear Weapons Tests Conducted by the United States and Other Nations. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/10621.
×
PageR5
Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2003. Exposure of the American Population to Radioactive Fallout from Nuclear Weapons Tests: A Review of the CDC-NCI Draft Report on a Feasibility Study of the Health Consequences to the American Population from Nuclear Weapons Tests Conducted by the United States and Other Nations. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/10621.
×
PageR6
Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2003. Exposure of the American Population to Radioactive Fallout from Nuclear Weapons Tests: A Review of the CDC-NCI Draft Report on a Feasibility Study of the Health Consequences to the American Population from Nuclear Weapons Tests Conducted by the United States and Other Nations. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/10621.
×
PageR7
Page viii Cite
Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2003. Exposure of the American Population to Radioactive Fallout from Nuclear Weapons Tests: A Review of the CDC-NCI Draft Report on a Feasibility Study of the Health Consequences to the American Population from Nuclear Weapons Tests Conducted by the United States and Other Nations. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/10621.
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PageR8
Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2003. Exposure of the American Population to Radioactive Fallout from Nuclear Weapons Tests: A Review of the CDC-NCI Draft Report on a Feasibility Study of the Health Consequences to the American Population from Nuclear Weapons Tests Conducted by the United States and Other Nations. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/10621.
×
PageR9
Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2003. Exposure of the American Population to Radioactive Fallout from Nuclear Weapons Tests: A Review of the CDC-NCI Draft Report on a Feasibility Study of the Health Consequences to the American Population from Nuclear Weapons Tests Conducted by the United States and Other Nations. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/10621.
×
PageR10
Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2003. Exposure of the American Population to Radioactive Fallout from Nuclear Weapons Tests: A Review of the CDC-NCI Draft Report on a Feasibility Study of the Health Consequences to the American Population from Nuclear Weapons Tests Conducted by the United States and Other Nations. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/10621.
×
PageR11
Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2003. Exposure of the American Population to Radioactive Fallout from Nuclear Weapons Tests: A Review of the CDC-NCI Draft Report on a Feasibility Study of the Health Consequences to the American Population from Nuclear Weapons Tests Conducted by the United States and Other Nations. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/10621.
×
PageR12
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This report is a review of the draft feasibility study that was issued at the request of Congress by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the National Cancer Institute (NCI). Over 500 atmospheric nuclear-weapons tests were conducted at various sites around the world during 1945-1980. As public awareness and concern mounted over the possible health hazards associated with exposure to the fallout from weapons testing, a feasibility study was initiated by CDC and NCI to assess the extent of the hazard. The CDC-NCI study claims that the fallout might have led to approximately 11,000 excess deaths, most caused by thyroid cancer linked to exposure to iodine-131. The committee noted that CDC and NCI used the best available data to estimate exposure and health hazards. The committee does not recommend an expanded study of exposure to radionuclides other than 131I since radiation doses from those radionuclides were much lower than those from 131I. It also recommended that CDC urge Congress to prohibit the destruction of all remaining records relevant to fallout.

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