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An Estimate by Two Methods of Thyroid Absorbed Doses Due to Bravo Fallout in Several Northern Marshall Islands

Musolino Stephen V.; Greenhouse, N. Anthony; Hull, Andrew P.
Health Physics: October 1997
Papers: PDF Only

Estimates of the thyroid absorbed doses due to fallout originating from the 1 March 1954 BRAVO thermonuclear test on Bikini Atoll have been made for several inhabited locations in the Northern Marshall Islands. Rongelap, Utirik, Rongerik and Ailinginae Atolls were also inhabited on 1 March 1954, where retrospective thyroid absorbed doses have previously been reconstructed. The current estimates are based primarily on external exposure data, which were recorded shortly after each nuclear test in the Castle Series, and secondarily on soil concentrations Of 137Cs in samples collected in 1978 and 1988, along with aerial monitoring done in 1978. The external exposures and 137Cs soil concentrations were representative of the atmospheric transport and deposition patterns of the entire Castle Series tests and show that the BRAVO test was the major contributor to fallout exposure during the Castle series and other test series which were carried out in the Marshall Islands. These data have been used as surrogates for fission product radioiodines and telluriums in order to estimate the range of thyroid absorbed doses that may have occurred throughout the Marshall Islands. Dosimetry based on these two sets of estimates agreed within a factor of 4 at the locations where BRAVO was the dominant contributor to the total exposure and deposition. Both methods indicate that thyroid absorbed doses in the range of 1 Gy (100 rad) may have been incurred in some of the northern locations, whereas the doses at southern locations did not significantly exceed levels comparable to those from worldwide fallout. The results of these estimates indicate that a systematic medical survey for thyroid disease should be conducted, and that a more definitive dose reconstruction should be made for all the populated atolls and islands in the Northern Marshall Islands beyond Rongelap, Utirik, Rongerik and Ailinginae, which were significantly contaminated by BRAVO fallout.

©1997Health Physics Society