Urinary excretion of radionuclides @ P. S. Harris ET AL.


(P.S.H.) conducted the very first urine sampling and the

Ailinginae (°*******; Langham 1954) who had subse-

explains those unusual circumstances. Within the first
few days to weeks after the exposure took place, there
was an immediate need for estimates of intake and
radiation dose so that the medical community could plan
for the appropriate care of the exposed Marshallese,
based on their expectations of the late effects that might
occur as a consequence of the exposures (Bondet al.
1955). To assist in understanding the extent of the
contamination and for estimating exposures, urine samples were collected and radionuclide analyses made.
However, the initial report by Harris** was marked for
“official use only” making publication of the data at that
time impossible. That classification was maintained until
the mid-1980’s. Other data useful to reconstructing
doses, e.g., the urine volumes of the NYOO samples,”
were contained in memoranda notdeclassified until the
mid-1990’s. While all the memorandareferred to in this
publication are now unclassified, the 1954 '°'I bioassay

ination and medical care (Bond et al. 1955). The LASL

measurements of '*'I and has personal knowledge that

data are difficult to locate, even from documentarchives.

The importance of the LASL urine sample measurements is underscored by the fact that no estimates of
intakes have been published that are independentof those
data. More recently, Musolino et al. (1997) and Taka-

hashiet al. (2001) discussed simple strategies to estimate
intakes from other tests and at other atolls, generally

based on assumingthe total contemporary '*’Cs deposi-

tion was due to the Bravo test, an assumption shown to
be incorrect in Beck et al. (2010).

While one purpose of this paper is to correct the
misconception that urine from children was included in

the LASL pooled urine samples measured for '*'I, the

primary purpose of this publication is broader and
includes: 1) to clarify, as well as possible, the historical

record on the various sampling efforts, 2) to publish, for
the first time, the available bioassay measurement data
from the urine sampling conducted by LASL and, to a

quently been evacuated to Kwajalein Atoll for decontam-

sampling strategy called for collection of complete 24-h
urine samples as that was the standard method used at
Los Alamos at that time for assessing body burdens of
plutonium among workers.’ However, during the planning stages, it was not known whether individual or
pooled samples would be most amenable to the measurement technology available and to the level of activity in
the urine.
The first LASL urine collections (16, 17, and 19
March 1954, see Table 1) were carried out with assis-

tance from the medical practitioner of the Rongelap

community.""’ Details about the collection efforts on

other days and by agencies other than LASL have not
been found.
Four composited urine samples, each a mixture of
urine from several persons, were assayed to produce the

'S'T excretion data upon which all retrospective thyroid

dose estimates from Bravo fallout have been based. The
urine samples from individuals were collected by LASL
from adults and mixed to form the four pooled samples.** One sample was from 35 Marshallese adults on
Rongelap Island and was obtained on 16 March 1954
while a second sample from 31 Rongelap adults was
obtained on 17 March 1954. A third sample from 9
Rongelap adults exposed on Sifo Island (Ailinginae
Atoll) was obtained on 19 March 1954, and a fourth from

9 U.S. military weather observers temporarily resident on

Rongerik was collected on 18 March 1954.7**885 In

addition, nine individual urine samples for plutonium
analysis were collected from the American weather
observers on Rongerik and a pooled urine sample was
obtained on 28 March and 14 April from twosailors of

the Japanese fishing vessel, Lucky Dragon No. 5,*****Ss

tation of the assay data (in terms of '*'I intakes), and 4)

that was in the vicinity of Bikini Atoll at the time of the
Bravo detonation. The collection of these samples was
briefly noted by Harris in 1954.** Table 1 summarizes
the various urine collections which totaled at least 19 in
1954. The summary was developed from all literature
that could be presently located.

have been reported (Harris**; Lessard et al. 1985; Goetz
et al. 1987; Simonet al. 201 0b).

20—Dec. 20, 1954. Los Alamos: Los Alamos Scientific Laboratory

lesser degree, the other institutions that collected urine

samples, 3) to provide a summary of the 1954 interpre-

to provide a comparison of various intake estimates that

** Shipman TL. LASL Health Division Progress Report, Nov.

(declassified in 1978). Available at: http://www.fas.org/sgp/othergov/

doe/lanl/doe_marshall_isl/0671_a.pdf. Accessed 2 June 2010.

Urine sampling

One of us (P.S.H.), on behalf of the H Division of

LASL, conducted the first collection of urine samples
from the Marshallese adults exposed on Rongelap and

"¥ The medical practitioner was a man named Jabwe(P.S. Harris
personal notes, also see Sharp and Chapman 1957). At that time,
Marshallese typically went by a single name.
== Harris PS. Laboratory notebook, 6465. Verified for declassification, February 1980. Los Alamos, NM: Los Alamos Scientific

Laboratory; 1954.

888 Harris PS. Laboratory notebook, 6742. Verified for declassification, February 1980. Los Alamos, NM: Los Alamos Scientific

Laboratory; 1954.

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