chapter  35
6 Pages

Long-Term Follow-Up after Accidental Exposure to Radioactive Fallout in the Marshall Islands

Introduction ....................................................................................................................................471 Study of U.S. Servicemen .............................................................................................................471 Evaluation of the Marshall Island Population...............................................................................473 References ......................................................................................................................................476

The United States conducted 66 nuclear tests in the Marshall Islands prior to a 1958 moratorium. These tests exposed both U.S. serviceman and the local populations to radiation of different types and to different degrees. The largest test in 1954 was 15,000 kilotons in yield, and was code-named “Bravo.” It predominantly exposed Marshall Islanders and fisherman. Earlier tests exposed the U.S. military. These early tests included Operation Crossroads that involved approximately 40,000 military personnel who were in the Bikini Atoll of the Marshall Islands in 1946. The Marshall Islands as a testing site subsequently generated requests for retrospective evaluation of a large number of U.S. serviceman and a prospective medical study of a much smaller number of Marshall Islanders. It is instructive to examine both the study design and outcome in both cases. Some of the problems are similar to accidentally exposed populations at other test sites, such as in Russia (see Chapter 37).