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March 3, 1951


Author Affiliations

Medical Corps, United States Army

Chief of the Radiology Branch, United States Atomic Energy Commission.

JAMA. 1951;145(9):634-637. doi:10.1001/jama.1951.02920270028006

The grave uncertainties in today's international situation have imposed a unique, unprecedentedly heavy responsibility on the American physician. He is now being called on by planning groups throughout the nation to assist in making realistic preparation should atomic bombing of our cities occur. It is felt that a brief discussion of the hazards that might be encountered would be of value in order to supply him with data obtained from Japan, Bikini and Eniwetok.

A realistic estimate of the number of casualties that might occur cannot be made because it is dependent on many factors, such as type of burst, type of construction in the city, season of the year, density of the population and time of day the detonation occurs.

TYPES OF CASUALTIES  An atomic bomb can cause casualties by three principal means: blast, thermal burns and radioactivity. Each of these phenomena is distinct and can be considered separately,