Site (NTS) began in January 1951,
and the first nuclear weapon was
detonated then.“ Of more than 600

clouds from 40 subsurface blasts trav-

eled beyond site boundaries, contami-

detonations, 183 were in the atmo-

nating Utah,including the 100-kt “Sedan” in 1962 and “Coulomniers” in

were not blowing toward Las Vegas

was compromised by failure to activate radiation monitoring apparatus

sphere (1951 through 1962). Tests
were usually conducted when winds
and Los Angeles, which were 140 km
and 420 km from ground zero (GZ),
respectively. At least 87 of the 121
atmospheric tests between 1951 and
1958 caused offsite contamination,

and 28 (>620 kilotons[kt], totally) lay

down a swath of radioactive fallout
over Utah.’ Exact patterns were
unpredictable and depended on the
presence of functioning monitoring
devices in local areas. The nuclear
bomb “Small Boy” of about 1 kt was
detonated on a tower 3 m high (July
14, 1962) and produced a “hot spot” af
100 rad/hr 540 km downwind (48.5°)

from GZ in the Orem, Utah, area.‘

Within a radius of 8 to 16 km around

this spot, the radiation dosage rate

increased by 25 times. There may
have been manyother such areas that
were not detected. An infinite dose of
100 rad was calculated for an area on
the highway between St George,
Utah, and Cedar City, Utah (228 km
and 276 km from GZ, respectively),
after the detonation of “Harry,” and
offsite doses of similar magnitude
were reported for detonations of
“Nancy,” “Simon,” “Badger,” and
“Boltzman” (Harold A. Knapp, PhD,
US Defense Communications Agency,
oral communication, Nov 5, 1982).
High explosive tests were later made
to study the dispersion of plutonium
or uranium from nuclear weapons,
250,000 sq km, with most contamina-

tion occurring in northern Nevada and
Utah. The highest offsite plutonium
concentration reported was 9.6 picocuries per square centimeter (pCi/sq
em), two orders of magnitude greater
than that produced by weaponsfallout for nearby states downwind from
the NTS and three orders greater
than for states more distant from the
NTS.’ (A picocurie of a radioactive
isotope of an element is a quantity
sufficient to produce 2.2 disintegrations per minute. Each disintegration

releases ionizing radiation. There are

eight important isotopes of plutonium, but “Pu is the predominant

isotope and has a half-life of 24,390





JAMA, Jan 13, 1984—Vol 251, No. 2

1977. Official monitoring of fallout
during nuclear tests (Deseret News,
Dee 4, 1979, p 8-B).

After a test on May 19, 1953, more
than 300 mR per hour (mR/hr) were
observed “in and out of cars” in St
George. Former Atomic Energy Commission Chairman, Lewis -Strauss
noted that “East they got over Pioche
and over St George which they apparently always pilaster.” “Estimates of
dosage delivered by radioactive iodine
to the thyroids of children in St
George, Utah, who were less than five

years old in 1953, vary between 500
and 2,500 ga ” (Michael May, PhD,
Berkeley, Calif, written communication, Nov 29, 1965). These doses are of
the same order of magnitude as those
sustained by the Rongelap children,

who also received 175 rad of wholebody radiation.’ Livestock received

much higher doses, and deaths of
more than 4,000 sheep in 1953 were
associated with the passage of radioactive plumes or clouds. Harold
Knapp, PhD, reported fetal lambs had
received doses of 20,000 to 40,000 rad
to the thyroid gland and sheep had
received 1,500 to 6,000 rad to the

gastrointestinal (GI) tract, where the
external doses were estimated to be
only 4 rad (oral communication, Nov
5, 1982). Sheep near Cedar City
received 38 to 169 rad of external

gamma radiation.’ Despite reports of
high levels of radiation in Utah and
Nevada, and in Salt Lake City, Denver, and points more distant, there
have been few investigations. Important exposures of the Los Angeles

population went virtually unnoticed."

An increase in leukemia mortality in
southwestern Utah (1950 through
1964) was reported in 1965 (EdwardS.
Weiss, MSPH, Public Health Service, written communication) and corroborated in a follow-up study of
leukemia deaths in children 14 years
More than 30 years have now
passed since the first exposure of
people in southwestern Utah to
radioactive fallout. There have been
external exposures to radioactive

gases and particulates in theair, ar
from contaminated soil, and intern

exposures to radioactive isotopes i

gested in food and water, or inhale

and stored in the body. Many perso
in this area milk cows andraise the
own produce and meat and a:
exposed to resuspended dust fro
agricultural activities. Of some 2¢
longer-lived radionuclides released t
the fissioning of uranium and plut:
nium, there are radioactive isotope

of every trace element and othe

elements important in human nutr
tion.’”’ Most are cumulative an
become concentrated in the foo
chain. The molecular, cellular, an

developmental effects of these radic
nuclides have been poorly studiec
This is especially true of long-terr.
effects on human reproduction. Be
cause of the possibility of an effect o:
residents of the high-fallout areas i)
the United States, an empirical inves
tigation of the incidence of all cance
in Mormons was conducted in com
munities in southwestern Utah.

Selection of the study group requirec
that religion be considered as a potentia
confounding factor. Utah has the lowes
cancer incidence of any state, attributed tc

the life-style of members of the Churcho:
Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, 01
Mormons.” Utah Mormons (72% of the
population) have a cancer incidence 23%
less than the national average. Utah nonMormons have a cancer incidence 16%
greater than that of Mormons. Church
members are urged to abstain from tobacco, alcohol, tea, and coffee, avoid extramarital sexual activity, conform to certain
family customs, and pursue higher education. Furthermore, the Mormon population in Utah seems to have greaterstability. The beneficial effects of the Mormon
life-style were also reported in Califcrnia.
Because of these considerations, the cancer incidence in Mormons in the highfallout area in southwestern Utah (4,125)
was compared with the cancerincidence in
all Utah Mormons (population, 781,735 in
July 1971).

Towns with heavy fallout exposure
included the St George area, Parowan,
Paragonah, and Kanab, Utah; Fredonia,
Ariz; and Bunkerville, Nev. A high-risk
population was defined as those Mormon
families or persons listed in 1951 telephonedirectories in these townsstill listed
in the 1962 directories and who could be
located in 1981. This roster was checked
against church records. “Family” included
all persons related by blood or marriage in

Cancer and Radioactive Fallout—Johnson


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