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Health Physics:
doi: 10.1097/HP.0b013e3181dc4e51
Paper

Acute and Chronic Intakes of Fallout Radionuclides By Marshallese From Nuclear Weapons Testing At Bikini and Enewetak and Related Internal Radiation Doses

Simon, Steven L.*; Bouville, André*; Melo, Dunstana*; Beck, Harold L.†; Weinstock, Robert M.‡

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Abstract

Annual internal radiation doses resulting from both acute and chronic intakes of all important dose-contributing radionuclides occurring in fallout from nuclear weapons testing at Bikini and Enewetak from 1946 through 1958 have been estimated for the residents living on all atolls and separate reef islands of the Marshall Islands. Internal radiation absorbed doses to the tissues most at risk to cancer induction (red bone marrow, thyroid, stomach, and colon) have been estimated for representative persons of all population communities for all birth years from 1929 through 1968, and for all years of exposure from 1948 through 1970. The acute intake estimates rely on a model using, as its basis, historical urine bioassay data, for members of the Rongelap Island and Ailinginae communities as well as for Rongerik residents. The model also utilizes fallout times of arrival and radionuclide deposition densities estimated for all tests and all atolls. Acute intakes of 63 radionuclides were estimated for the populations of the 20 inhabited atolls and for the communities that were relocated during the testing years for reasons of safety and decontamination. The model used for chronic intake estimates is based on reported whole-body, urine, and blood counting data for residents of Utrik and Rongelap. Dose conversion coefficients relating intake to organ absorbed dose were developed using internationally accepted models but specifically tailored for intakes of particulate fallout by consideration of literature-based evidence to choose the most appropriate alimentary tract absorption fraction (f1) values. Dose estimates were much higher for the thyroid gland than for red marrow, stomach wall, or colon. The highest thyroid doses to adults were about 7,600 mGy for the people exposed on Rongelap; thyroid doses to adults were much lower, by a factor of 100 or more, for the people exposed on the populated atolls of Kwajalein and Majuro. The estimates of radionuclide intake and internal radiation dose to the Marshallese that are presented in this paper are the most complete available anywhere and were used to make projections of lifetime cancer risks to the exposed populations, which are presented in a companion paper in this volume.

©2010Health Physics Society

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