Date: Fri Mar 9 17:53:46 2001
Posted By: John Moulder, Faculty, Radiation Biology, Medical College of Wisconsin
Area of science: Environment
"I have heard that there are still remnants of the bomb placed on Japan
on 1945 and people are still getting cancer who live there today and if one
visits this country/island they can get sick?"
This is really three very different questions:
The answers to the first two questions are very easy, since there are no
longer any dangerous remnants of the A-bombs. The bombs were detonated in
the air, so there was very little fall-out. What killed all the people was
the blast, the heat, and the immediate radiation. While US scientists could
detect radiation in the cities when they entered a few weeks later, the
levels had already dropped to the point where there was little hazard.
- Are Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the Japanese cities on which the US dropped
- Can visitors to Japan get sick from the remnants of the A-bombs?
- Are the Japanese survivors of the A-bombs still getting sick?
But, the Japanese survivors of the A-bombs are still getting cancer as a
delayed result of the exposure they got 56 years ago.
The best estimates are that about 70,000 Japanese died in the two cities as
an immediate result of the bombing, and that another 30,000 to 40,000 died
from radiation, burns and other injuries over the next 3-4 months. We
estimate that in the decades since then, another 700-800 Japanese have died
from cancer induced by the radiation they received decades earlier.
So while it is safe for you to visit Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the A-bomb
survivors are still at risk from what happened more than 50 years ago.
- Putnam FW: The Atomic Bomb Casualty Commission in retrospect. Proc Natl
Acad Sci (USA), 95:5426-31, 1998.
- Shigematsu I: The 2000 Sievert Lecture--lessons from atomic bomb
survivors in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Health Phy 79:234-41, 2000.
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