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June 30, 1975

Acute Myelogenous Leukemia Following Fallout Radiation Exposure

Author Affiliations

From the Medical Research Center, Brookhaven National Laboratory, Upton, Long Island, NY.

JAMA. 1975;232(13):1356-1357. doi:10.1001/jama.1975.03250130040019

ACUTE myelogenous leukemia developed in a 19-year-old Marshallese man who had been exposed to radioactive fallout at 1 year of age. He was one of 64 people on Rongelap Island accidentally exposed in 1954 following the testing of an atomic device on Bikini atoll 100 miles away. The acute effects of exposure on this population were hematological depression from total body exposure to gamma radiation of 175 rads and beta-ray burns and epilation from deposit of fallout on the skin. There were no deaths, and recovery occurred within a year. Internal absorption of radionuclides from inhalation and consumption of contaminated food and water produced no acute effects, but absorption of radioactive iodine resulted in later development of thyroid lesions in one third of the population; three of these lesions were malignant. The highest incidence was in children exposed at less than 10 years of age, some of whom had growth