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Title: Human and Ecologic Effects in Massachusetts of an Assumed Thermonuclear Attack on the United States

Abstract

An examination is made of the short-term human and ecological consequences in Massachusetts, and in particular in metropolitan Boston, of the limited thermonuclear attack on the United States postulated by the Holifield Committee report of 1959. This assigns 10 weapons totaling 58 megatons to Massachusetts. Damage would result from blast, heat, and radioactive fallout. A 20-megaton ground burst on downtown Boston would seriously damage reinforcedconcrete buildings to a distance of 10 miles and demolish all other structures. Within a circle of a radius of 16 to 21 miles second-degree burns would be produced, and clothing, houses, foliage, gasoline and so forth would ignite, producing a fire storm. Human survival in this area would be practically impossible, and an estimated 2,250,000 deaths would occur in metropolitan Boston from blast and heat alone. Beyond the area consumed by fire, many persons would be exposed to lethal doses of radiation from local fallout. For some of these persons, fallout shelters could reduce the cumulative dose of radioactivity to levels compatible with survival. Many sheltered survivors would be subject to acute radiation sickness and to the long-term somatic and genetic effects of radiation. The similarity of presenting symptoms in persons who had been lethallymore » irradiated and those who had received much smaller doses would create major diagnostic problems in the postattack period. Sublethal irradiation would increase the morbidity and mortality from pre-existing disease and from blast injuries, burns, and infections. Serious ecological problems would result from thermal destruction of forests and widespread lethal irradiation of mammals and birds, accompanied by relative sparing of bacteria, fungi, viruses, and insects, all of which are highly resistant to radiation. (H.H.D.)« less

Authors:
; ; ; ; ; ; ;
Publication Date:
Research Org.:
Harvard Medical School, Boston
Sponsoring Org.:
USDOE
OSTI Identifier:
4770929
NSA Number:
NSA-17-001671
Resource Type:
Journal Article
Journal Name:
New England Journal of Medicine
Additional Journal Information:
Journal Volume: 266; Journal Issue: 22; Other Information: Orig. Receipt Date: 31-DEC-63; Journal ID: ISSN 0028-4793
Country of Publication:
Country unknown/Code not available
Language:
English
Subject:
HEALTH AND SAFETY; BUILDINGS; COMBUSTION; CONCRETES; EARTH; ENVIRONMENT; FALLOUT; GASOLINE; MAN; MECHANICAL STRUCTURES; NUCLEAR EXPLOSIONS; PETROLEUM; PLANTS; PRESSURE; RADIATION EFFECTS; SAFETY; SHOCK WAVES; SKIN; SURFACES; THERMAL RADIATION; ZONES

Citation Formats

Ervin, Frank R., Glazier, John B., Aronow, Saul, Nathan, David, Coleman, Robert, Avery, Nicholas, Shohet, Stephen, and Leeman, Cavin. Human and Ecologic Effects in Massachusetts of an Assumed Thermonuclear Attack on the United States. Country unknown/Code not available: N. p., 1962. Web. doi:10.1056/NEJM196205312662204.
Ervin, Frank R., Glazier, John B., Aronow, Saul, Nathan, David, Coleman, Robert, Avery, Nicholas, Shohet, Stephen, & Leeman, Cavin. Human and Ecologic Effects in Massachusetts of an Assumed Thermonuclear Attack on the United States. Country unknown/Code not available. https://doi.org/10.1056/NEJM196205312662204
Ervin, Frank R., Glazier, John B., Aronow, Saul, Nathan, David, Coleman, Robert, Avery, Nicholas, Shohet, Stephen, and Leeman, Cavin. 1962. "Human and Ecologic Effects in Massachusetts of an Assumed Thermonuclear Attack on the United States". Country unknown/Code not available. https://doi.org/10.1056/NEJM196205312662204.
@article{osti_4770929,
title = {Human and Ecologic Effects in Massachusetts of an Assumed Thermonuclear Attack on the United States},
author = {Ervin, Frank R. and Glazier, John B. and Aronow, Saul and Nathan, David and Coleman, Robert and Avery, Nicholas and Shohet, Stephen and Leeman, Cavin},
abstractNote = {An examination is made of the short-term human and ecological consequences in Massachusetts, and in particular in metropolitan Boston, of the limited thermonuclear attack on the United States postulated by the Holifield Committee report of 1959. This assigns 10 weapons totaling 58 megatons to Massachusetts. Damage would result from blast, heat, and radioactive fallout. A 20-megaton ground burst on downtown Boston would seriously damage reinforcedconcrete buildings to a distance of 10 miles and demolish all other structures. Within a circle of a radius of 16 to 21 miles second-degree burns would be produced, and clothing, houses, foliage, gasoline and so forth would ignite, producing a fire storm. Human survival in this area would be practically impossible, and an estimated 2,250,000 deaths would occur in metropolitan Boston from blast and heat alone. Beyond the area consumed by fire, many persons would be exposed to lethal doses of radiation from local fallout. For some of these persons, fallout shelters could reduce the cumulative dose of radioactivity to levels compatible with survival. Many sheltered survivors would be subject to acute radiation sickness and to the long-term somatic and genetic effects of radiation. The similarity of presenting symptoms in persons who had been lethally irradiated and those who had received much smaller doses would create major diagnostic problems in the postattack period. Sublethal irradiation would increase the morbidity and mortality from pre-existing disease and from blast injuries, burns, and infections. Serious ecological problems would result from thermal destruction of forests and widespread lethal irradiation of mammals and birds, accompanied by relative sparing of bacteria, fungi, viruses, and insects, all of which are highly resistant to radiation. (H.H.D.)},
doi = {10.1056/NEJM196205312662204},
url = {https://www.osti.gov/biblio/4770929}, journal = {New England Journal of Medicine},
issn = {0028-4793},
number = 22,
volume = 266,
place = {Country unknown/Code not available},
year = {1962},
month = {5}
}