Excess cancer cases in New Mexico are likely because of 1945 nuclear test exposure

  • Health Phys

  • Par Deepa Koli
  • Résumés d'articles
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Takeaway

  • A study estimated radiation doses and associated range of excess cancer risk to New Mexico residents exposed after the world’s first nuclear weapon test.

Key points

  • The Trinity nuclear test, conducted in 1945, exposed residents of New Mexico to varying degrees of radioactive fallout.
  • The thyroid was at the greatest risk from fallout exposure.
  • The largest doses would have occurred in Torrance and Guadalupe counties, based on the fallout pattern.
  • The exposure pathways considered included external irradiation from deposited fallout, internal irradiation via inhalation of airborne radionuclides in the debris cloud or resuspended ground activity, and ingestion of contaminated drinking water and foodstuff.
  • The range of radiation-related excess cancers in the 581,489 potentially exposed residents of New Mexico was estimated.
  • The total lifetime baseline number of all solid cancers (excluding thyroid and nonmelanoma skin cancer [NMSC]) was estimated to be 183,000 from 1945 to 2034.
  • Estimated 90% uncertainty intervals (UIs) of excess cancer cases with respective attributable fractions:
    • 210-460 with 0.12%-0.25% for all solid cancers (except thyroid cancer and NMSC).
    • 80-530 with 3.6%-20% for thyroid cancer.
    • Up to 10 with 0.02%-0.31% for leukemia (except chronic lymphocytic leukemia).
  • In Guadalupe, Lincoln, San Miguel, Socorro, and Torrance counties, which received the greatest fallout deposition, the 90% UI for the projected fraction of thyroid cancers attributable to radioactive fallout was estimated to be 17%-58%.