Impact of I131 on Native Americans from era of nuclear weapons tests
Disease risk persists for more than the half life of a radionuclide:
Risk Analysis Vol 20, No. 1, 2000
“The Assessment of Radiation Exposure In Native American Communities from Nuclear Weapons Testing in Nevada”
Eric Frohmberg, Robert Goble, Virginia Sanchez and Dianne Quigley
Abstract: “Native Americans residing in a broad region downwind from the Nevada Test Site during the 1950s and 1960s recieved significant radiation expopsures from nuclear weapons testing. Because of differences in diet, activities and housing, their radiation exposures are only very imperfectly respresented in the Department of Energy dose reconstructions. There are important missing pathways, including exposures to radioactive iodine from eating small game. The dose reconstruction model assumptions about cattle feeding practices across a year are unlikely to apply to the native communities as are other model aussumptions about diet. Thus exposures from drinking milk and eating vegetables have not yet been properly estimated for these communities. Through consultation with members of the affected communities, these decificiencies could be corrected and the dose reconstruction externded to Native Americans. An illustration of the feasibility of extending the dose reconstruction is provided by a sample calculation to estimate radiation exposures to the thyroid from eating radio-iodine contaminated rabbit thyroids after the Sedan nuclear test. The illustration is continued with a discussion of how the calculation results may be used to make estimates for other tests and other locations.” end quote.
US National Cancer Institute download page with links to the following pages and download:
* About I-131
* How Americans Were Exposed
* The Milk Connection
* The Government’s Response
* I-131′s Rapid Breakdown
* Key Facts
* Get the Facts About Exposure to I-131 Radiation (Brochure)
* Get the Facts About Exposure to I-131 Radiation (Presentation)
* I-131 and Thyroid Cancer – Flip Chart for Native Americans (PDF)
I-131 and Thyroid Cancer – Flip Chart for Native Americans
Am I at risk?
The amount of I-131 people absorbed depended on:
1. Their age during the testing period (between 1951 and
2. The amount and source of milk they drank in those years
3. Where they lived
6. People born between 1936 and 1963
People with the highest risk of developing thyroid
cancer from exposure to I-131 were children during the
period of atomic bomb testing, and are now 40 years of
age or older.
• People younger than 15 at the time of testing (between
1951 and 1963) probably have a higher thyroid cancer
risk from exposure to I-131 fallout than other people.
Children’s thyroid glands were smaller and still growing
when they were exposed to I-131. And children were
more likely to have consumed milk, which could have
exposed them to I-131.
• Babies who were breastfed may have been exposed to
two to three times as much I-131 as their mothers. But if
their mothers did not drink large amounts of fresh milk,
babies likely received little additional exposure from
• Babies who drank formula or condensed milk were not
exposed at all.
• People received little exposure from eating fruits and
leafy vegetables as compared to drinking fresh milk.
This is because I-131 fell on the surface of the fruits and
vegetables. So peeling or washing them removed most of
the I-131. Little I-131 was transferred to the inside of the
The amount of milk people drank played a role in how
much I-131 they were exposed to. So did the source of
• Fresh milk from backyard or farm cows and goats usually
contained more I-131 than store-bought milk. This is
because processing and shipping milk allowed more time
for the I-131 to break down.
• Goat’s milk generally contained more I-131 because
goats concentrate significantly more I-131 in their milk
than cows do.
Where did I-131 go?
Where people lived as children is another risk factor.
• I-131 was carried thousands of miles away from the test
site by winds.
• Because of wind and rainfall patterns, the distribution
of fallout varied widely after each test. Therefore, certain
areas of North America received more fallout than other
• Scientists think that the largest amount of I-131 fell over
parts of Utah, Colorado, Idaho, Nevada, and Montana.
But I-131 traveled to all states, especially those in the
Midwest, East, and Northeast United States.
Exposure to I-131 may increase a person’s risk of getting
• Thyroid cancer accounts for less than 2 percent of all
cancers diagnosed in the United States.
• Most of the time, thyroid cancer is a slow-growing
cancer. With treatment, it can usually be cured.
The United States is not Fukushima.
You may want to visit a doctor based on 4 key factors:
1. Age—if you are 40 or older, especially if you were born
between 1936 and 1963
2. Milk drinking—if you drank a lot of milk as a child,
especially milk from farm or backyard cows and goats
3. Where you lived as a child—if you lived in the
Mountain West, Midwest, East, or Northeast U.S.
4. Medical signs—if you have a lump in your thyroid
People who think they may be at risk for thyroid cancer
should discuss this concern with their doctor. The doctor
may suggest a schedule for checkups.
NIH Publication No. 02-5286
Printed September 2002
Many decades after the supposed “safe” release of I 131 via bomb detonations in the USA, US agencies finally admit the truth about the life time hazard presented to populations from the 1950s onward to the current era.