MORGANAmerican Journalof Pathology
are thermal radiation, air blast,
ionizing radiation. While this accountwill focus on
long-term effects of the latter, the
impacts wereimmense. (At this point let us remember
we are talking about bombs
were very small indeed by present-day standards.
powerful!) Figure 1 shows a twostory, steel-frame building with seven-inch, reinforced concrete walls.
stood 0.4 mile from ground zero
thewalls, the entire second story
to the ground. Obviously, the effectof such an air blast on wooden frame houses was catastrophic, even
fargreater distances. Concerning thermal effects, paper, cloth,
to 3500 feet from ground zero. To completethe devastation there was a fire storm. Fire storms, which were
confined to nuclear bombs
were also encountered in the saturation incendiary bombing of Tokyo and
several German cities, notably Dresden, are caused
the countless, scattered, individual fires. Their updraftproduces a strong wind moving from the periphery toward the center
the city, a phenomenon possibly accentuated in the case
the atomicbomb by the mushrooming effect. Almost immediately, virtually the entire
of the city of Hiroshima became an enormous bonfire. (In themuseum
Hiroshima many of the exhibits, such as melted glass, meltedmetal pots,
fused nails, were caused not
thermal radiation, as theexhibit implies,
the fire storm.)
has been estimated
in thefirst few weeks after the explosion, air blast, fire, and nuclear radiation accounted about equally for the casualties.
not widely known
thesudden updraft of hot, moist air to the cooler heights resulted in condensation
the "black rain"
cities later inthe day.
raindrops, containing much smoke
dust, hence black,were highly radioactive. Mortality figures specific for this fallout are notknown.Regarding fallout, there are many components rendered radioactive inthe dust drawn
the mushroom effect
Nevada tests, for example, some 300 different isotopes havebeen identified. Many of these have short half-lives
thus are activeonly for brief periods after the explosion. Examples are iodine-131
days), sodium-24 (15 hours), manganese-56 (2.6 hours)
silicon-31 (2.6hours). At the
other end of
carbon-14, with a half-life
5,730years. Between such extremes are strontium-OO (27.7 years)
cesium-137 (30 years). Iodine
strontium deserve special mention.
concentrated in the thyroid gland
ingested for a considerable period
drinking milk from cows eating contaminated