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February 24, 1984

Countdown Zero

Author Affiliations

Emory University School of Medicine Atlanta

JAMA. 1984;251(8):1095. doi:10.1001/jama.1984.03340320071033

The development of nuclear weapons in this country involved numerous atmospheric test explosions in the 1950s, both at the Nevada Test Site and in the Pacific. Military personnel were often present at tests as observers or as participants in war maneuvers designed to give the armed forces direct experience with nuclear combat conditions. These events, vividly portrayed in this book through the recollections of men who were there as young soldiers, provide gripping testimonials to the destructive force of nuclear war.

The impact of these nuclear military experiences on the subsequent lives of the men involved is hard to know, and it deserves close medical attention. Risk of radiation-caused illness, including cancer, is an obvious concern, but it is one that is closely dependent on radiation dose. Existing information suggests that exposure levels for the most part were low. Uncertainty exists, however, especially in relation to internal radiation exposure from