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Article
July 13, 1957

MEDICAL SURVEY OF MARSHALLESE TWO YEARS AFTER EXPOSURE TO FALL-OUT RADIATION

JAMA. 1957;164(11):1192-1197. doi:10.1001/jama.1957.02980110018004
Abstract

• Detonation of a nuclear device in 1 954 resulted in the exposure of 82 people to fall-out radiation consisting of a whole-body dose of gamma radiation, beta radiation to the skin from radioactive material in contact with the surface, and internal radiation from radionuclides absorbed from food and drink. Gastrointestinal symptoms occurred during the first 24 to 48 hours after exposure and then subsided. Irritation of skin and conjunctiva was seen during the same period. No subsequent abnormalities were seen in the eyes, but the skin manifested epilation and spotty lesions beginning about two weeks after the exposure. Residual skin lesions were found in 15 subjects two years after the exposure. Hematological data show a progressive recovery from the initial damage. The general health of the exposed people was good, but the irradiated male children showed a mean deficiency of 5.33 cm. in height and 3.4 kg. in weight two years after the exposure. No comparable effect was seen in the girls. The quantitative data obtained from radiochemical analysis of the urine showed that these people are still excreting cerium-144, praseodymium-144, and strontium-90, but in amounts estimated to be well below permissible levels.

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