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Oral Histories

Health Physicist William J. Bair, Ph.D.

Biochemist Waldo E. Cohn, Ph.D.

Dr. Patricia Wallace Durbin, Ph.D.

Merril Eisenbud

Dr. Nadine Foreman, M.D.

Radiologist Hymer L. Friedell, M.D., Ph.D.

Health Physicist Carl C. Gamertsfelder, Ph.D.

Dr. John W. Gofman, M.D., Ph.D.

Radiation Biologist Marvin Goldman, Ph.D.

Julie Langham Grilly

John W. Healy

Hematologist Karl F. Hubner, M.D.

Oral History of Radiologist Henry I. Kohn, M.D., Ph.D.

Medical Physicist Katherine L. Lathrop and Physician Paul V. Harper

Pathologist Clarence Lushbaugh, M.D.

Health Physicist Constantine J. Maletskos, Ph.D.

Radiologist Earl R. Miller, M.D.

Health Physicist Karl Z. Morgan, Ph.D.

Biochemist William D. Moss

Physiologist Nello Pace, Ph.D.

Cell Biologist Don Francis Petersen, Ph.D.

Radiobiologist Chet Richmond, Ph.D.

Physician James S. Robertson, M.D., Ph.D.

Biophysicist Robert E. Rowland, Ph.D.

Biophysicist Cornelius A. Tobias, Ph.D.

Biochemist John Randolph Totter, Ph.D.

Oncologist Helen Vodopick, M.D.

Dr. George Voelz, M.D.

Donner Lab Administrator Baird G. Whaley



Oral History of Biochemist
William D. Moss

Conducted November 30, 1994

United States Department of Energy
Office of Human Radiation Experiments
September 1995


Short Biography
Early Career at Los Alamos
Early Development of Bioassay Tests to Measure Plutonium Exposure
Developing Occupational Exposure Limits
Exposure Accident Creates Need for More Sensitive Testing
Long-Term Follow-Up Studies and the UPPU Club
Wright Langham Joins the Los Alamos Health and Safety Group
Langham Analyzes Results of Previous Plutonium and Polonium Injection Studies
Langham Enacts Stringent Research Controls
December 2, 1944 Memo Proposes Human Injection Study
Polonium Studies at Rochester
Los Alamos Analyzes Urine and Fecal Samples for 1945 Oak Ridge Injection Study
Decisionmakers Involved in Authorizing Human Injection Studies
Animal Injection Studies Prove Inconsistent Across Species
Langham and the Development of the Cupferron Procedure
Use of the Bismuth Phosphate Test
Long-Term Follow-Up of Two Rochester Plutonium Injectees
Moss Reevaluates Langham's Results
Reanalysis of Excretion Studies to be Published
Finding and Correcting Errors in the Data
Other Information Contained in the Langham Research Notebooks
Other Bioassay Studies
Tissue Registry Program at Los Alamos
Los Alamos Staff Participants in Studies
Long-Term Profiles Performed With Radium
Public Misperceptions About Radiation


In December 1993, U.S. Secretary of Energy Hazel R. O'Leary announced her Openness Initiative. As part of this initiative, the Department of Energy undertook an effort to identify and catalog historical documents on radiation experiments that had used human subjects. The Office of Human Radiation Experiments coordinated the Department's search for records about these experiments. An enormous volume of historical records has been located. Many of these records were disorganized; often poorly cataloged, if at all; and scattered across the country in holding areas, archives, and records centers.

The Department has produced a roadmap to the large universe of pertinent information: Human Radiation Experiments: The Department of Energy Roadmap to the Story and the Records (DOE/EH-0445, February 1995). The collected documents are also accessible through the Internet World Wide Web under The passage of time, the state of existing records, and the fact that some decisionmaking processes were never documented in written form, caused the Department to consider other means to supplement the documentary record.

In September 1994, the Office of Human Radiation Experiments, in collaboration with Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory, began an oral history project to fulfill this goal. The project involved interviewing researchers and others with firsthand knowledge of either the human radiation experimentation that occurred during the Cold War or the institutional context in which such experimentation took place. The purpose of this project was to enrich the documentary record, provide missing information, and allow the researchers an opportunity to provide their perspective.

Thirty audiotaped interviews were conducted from September 1994 through January 1995. Interviewees were permitted to review the transcripts of their oral histories. Their comments were incorporated into the final version of the transcript if those comments supplemented, clarified, or corrected the contents of the interviews.

The Department of Energy is grateful to the scientists and researchers who agreed to participate in this project, many of whom were pioneers in the development of nuclear medicine.


The opinions expressed by the interviewee are his own and do not necessarily reflect those of the U.S. Department of Energy. The Department neither endorses nor disagrees with such views. Moreover, the Department of Energy makes no representations as to the accuracy or completeness of the informa-tion provided by the interviewee.


WILLIAM D. MOSS Conducted on November 30, 1994, in Los Alamos, New Mexico, by Dr. Darrell Fisher, a health physicist from Pacific Northwest Laboratory, and Marisa Caputo, Oral History Team Leader and Special Assistant from the Office of Human Radiation Experiments, U.S. Department of Energy.

William D. Moss was selected for the Oral History Project because of his plutonium chemistry research at Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL). Specifically, Mr. Moss has been one of the primary researchers in the yearly studies of the Los Alamos plutonium workers. In addition, Mr. Moss studied bioassay, the metabolism of plutonium in the human body, and updated the Langham excretion functions for plutonium.

Short Biography

Mr. William D. Moss was born in Verona, Pennsylvania, on November 25, 1924. He received his B.S. (Chemistry and Biology, 1950) from Sterling College in Sterling, Kansas. Mr. Moss has also taken advanced courses at the University of New Mexico, Los Alamos Center. Mr. Moss joined the staff of the Los Alamos National Laboratory in 1953 and is still employed at the Laboratory. From 1953 to 1957, Mr. Moss was a Chemical Technician in the Health Division's Industrial Hygiene Division (H-5). He became a staff member in H-5 in 1958. From 1964 to the present, Mr. Moss has held the following positions within H-5: Alternate Section Leader, Bioanalytical and Chemistry Section; Acting Section Leader, Bioanalytical and Chemistry Section; and Section Leader, Bioanalytical and Chemistry Section.

Mr. Moss has focused his work on analytical chemistry related to industrial hygiene and health physics. Moreover, he has set up sampling methods for toxic materials and evaluation of occupational health hazards. Specifically, Mr. Moss has researched and published numerous articles on the medical follow-up studies of the Los Alamos plutonium workers and on the effect of plutonium on the human body.

Early Career at Los Alamos

CAPUTO: Today is November 30, 1994. My name is Marisa Caputo. I'm with the Office of Human Radiation Experiments of the Department of Energy [(DOE)]. With me is Dr. Darrell Fisher from Pacific Northwest Laboratory. We're here today at Los Alamos National Laboratory(1) to interview William Moss about his experiences at Los Alamos, and his knowledge of human radiation experimentation that occurred here. Mr. Moss, I'd like you to begin with a quick sketch of your educational background and what brought you to Los Alamos to begin with.
MOSS: My educational background: I have a bachelor's degree in Chemistry and Biology from Sterling College, Sterling, Kansas. My interest in Los Alamos stems from the use of the atomic bomb [against] Japan in August 1945. I read about that, and I read an article in Life Magazine about Los Alamos. [As a result,] I had an interest in Los Alamos and what was going on [there]. After graduating from college in 1950, I taught chemistry at a high school in Arizona. I met a young lady out there who, eventually, I married. Her sister lived in Los Alamos, and we [went] to visit [her]. I [applied to work at Los Alamos] in November of 1952, and I was employed in March of 1953. I took the job as a chemist in the Health Division (2) [and] was involved in bioassay(3) of samples for radioactivity. I've essentially been in that profession since then.

CAPUTO: So, for over forty years, you've been at the Lab?

MOSS: I've had diversions within that [time], but I've stayed within that same interest. I became rapidly interested in perfection of analytical procedures and the interpretation of the data, and that's where we are today.

FISHER: Who did you work for initially? And who were your professional colleagues?

MOSS: My first contact was the fellow who hired me: Morris Milligan. Harry Schute was the group leader [(H-5, Industrial Hygiene)] and Ed Hyatt was the deputy group leader. The assignment I had was to learn the analytical procedures involved in the analysis of not only radioactive materials, but organic and inorganic [materials]. It was a combined function of that chemistry group to do industrial hygiene and [radio]bioassay(4) samples. Morris Milligan was my immediate supervisor.

Early Development of Bioassay Tests to Measure Plutonium Exposure

FISHER: Can you describe some of the capabilities of your group in H-5 for plutonium(5) (Pu) bioassay at that time?

MOSS: When I came into the group they were using a procedure that had been developed by [Edwin] Russell at the Met Lab(6) in Chicago. It was called the bismuth phosphate procedure [for extracting plutonium]. The laboratory at Los Alamos started using that procedure in October 1949. It's interesting, the background on that. They [(the lab's researchers)] previously had used what they called the cupferron procedure.(7) That procedure was developed here at Los Alamos in the latter part of 1944 to analyze low concentrations of plutonium in urine, fecal, and tissue samples. That procedure was used from [December 1944 to October 1949]. [Wright Langham](8) developed its scientific use, including quality control and the use of spike samples,(9) and so on. The procedure had been developed [in 1944] and Langham took on the responsibility of supervising the people [using the procedure in February 1945].

FISHER: Who developed the procedure?

MOSS: It was developed by a team of people, headed by a fellow named Don Mastick. It's an interesting story about Don. He was involved in a serious plutonium exposure in August 1944, in which 10 milligrams (10) of plutonium blew up in his face. He ingested some unknown quantity of plutonium. He was a young scientist, who had just come to the project. The division leader for chemistry, a fellow by the name of Joe Kennedy(11), had previously worked with [Glenn T.] Seaborg(12)   out of Berkeley(13) and was a codiscoverer of plutonium in 1941 along with Art Wahl. Art Wahl(14) and Kennedy had come to Los Alamos and Seaborg, of course, was working back in Chicago [at the Metallurgical Laboratory], when this accident happened in August [1944]. Kennedy went to Hempelmann,(15) who was leader for the Health Group, and said they were quite concerned about this person's exposure [because] there was no method of measuring the concentration that might be in his body after ingestion of an unknown amount of plutonium. Ten milligrams, at that time, was a lot of plutonium. By August 1944, Los Alamos had received only 51 grams of plutonium. This accident was serious enough that they wrote a memo stating they wanted some [measure of] protection for their people.

Developing Occupational Exposure Limits

FISHER: Wasn't the early permissible intake limit for plutonium about 5.0 micrograms [millionths of a gram]?

MOSS: That was the tentative level established by the Met Lab in Chicago. There is some suggestion, from reading the notebooks of the people who were employed in the [Los Alamos] Health Group in July and August 1944, that Hempelmann was quite concerned about [the] 1.0-microgram burden. The absolute certainty of that is not documented. As a result of the accident, Oppenheimer(16) authorized Hempelmann to assign people to develop a more sensitive method for measuring plutonium [in excreta]. The Met Lab had suggested a method for measuring 5-microgram body burdens. In looking at [researcher] Ann Perley's(17) notebook ([she was] the person that was assigned to look at the Chicago procedure) she noted that Hempelmann wasn't satisfied with 5.0-microgram [detection]. Hempelmann was interested in measuring 1.0-microgram [or less plutonium burden].

FISHER: This was in the fall of 1944?

MOSS: This is August 44. [The first reference to a 1.0-microgram Pu burden is contained in a March 26, 1945 memo, Hempelmann to Oppenheimer.]

FISHER: Hempelmann indicates in other memos that a procedure is needed to accurately measure plutonium [in excreta] for purposes of occupational radiation protection.
MOSS: I'll give you the background on that. I got this from Louis Hempelmann himself. He was the M.D. who had come to Los Alamos in April 1943. You probably know the background of his selection, so it's not important here.
FISHER: Go ahead.

MOSS: Hempelmann had previously worked at the Berkeley [(Lawrence Radiation)] Lab in association with Joe Hamilton(18) on neutron therapy.(19) He [(Hempelmann)] went from Berkeley to Washington University in St. Louis, where he was working on neutron therapy with their cyclotron. [In 1942], they were using the cyclotron(20) at St. Louis to make plutonium by bombardment of [uranium compounds].

FISHER: Before 19Y?

MOSS: This is 1942. So they're making plutonium,(21) and the bombarded uranium was shipped to Chicago and Seaborg extracted the plutonium. Hempelmann had contact with Hamilton and Robert Stone(22) at Berkeley, [and] he probably met Seaborg when he was out there. He [also] knew Oppenheimer. He knew these people quite well. He [(Hempelmann)] was recommended for the [Los Alamos] Health group by John Lawrence,(23) the brother of Ernest.(24)

He came here in April of 1943 and was given the assignment then to provide [health] protection for Los Alamos people. The matter of plutonium never really came up in any of the records of the health reports written by Hempelmann until 1944, [when] plutonium appeared on the scene.(25) At that time [1944], from the memos that Hempelmann wrote, the philosophy of the Met Lab in Chicago was to use blood profiles as a means of determining radiation exposures. It became obvious, after Hempelmann visited Chicago [in April 1944], that [use of blood profiles] was not a satisfactory method for measuring low-level radiation exposure. He came back [to Los Alamos] and wrote a memo to Kennedy recommending that they take nose swipes [for evidence of Pu inhalation exposures].

FISHER: Nose swipes were probably totally unacceptable [(lacking in sensitivity)] for assessing internal [low-level] burdens of radionuclides.

MOSS: It slowly evolved that [nose swipes] weren't adequate for that. There wasn't much plutonium here. The first quantity of plutonium, in milligram quantity, was delivered to Los Alamos in January [1944]; it was 6.0 milligrams.

Exposure Accident Creates Need for More Sensitive Testing

MOSS: By the end of May, there [were] perhaps 10 grams [of Pu] here. The problem [of controlling Pu exposures] was developing rapidly. Hempelmann was using nose swipes. There was a serious accident that occurred on May 26, 1944, in which two people disregarded safety rules, opened up a container of plutonium, and dispersed plutonium dust within the room. They took nose counts on those people, and they decided that one of them had had a [serious Pu inhalation exposure]. They removed him from further work with plutonium. That was the beginning of really cracking down, if you will, and following [safety] rules. The explosion occurring in August of 1944 sort of climaxed the whole situation. Los Alamos was then given permission [by Oppenheimer] to develop a more sensitive [urine] method than the method that had been suggested for use by the Met Lab in Chicago [for detection of less than 1-microgram burdens].

FISHER: For historical interest, can you explain the cause of the explosion in August of 1944, the chemical process?
MOSS: [I don't know the cause of the August 1944 accident]. The two people [who were involved in the May 1946 exposure is documented]. I talked to the chemist, the metallurgist. He's part of this group of 27 men that Langham, [Payne] Harris, and Hempelmann put together [and would] follow [in future years].
FISHER: Twenty-seven?

Long-Term Follow-Up Studies and the UPPU Club

MOSS: Twenty-seven men originally selected for the UPPU Club. Are you familiar with that? You urinate, PU [(you pee Pu)]. That was why they called that [the UPPU club]. Those 27 men were selected on the basis of their occupational exposure [to plutonium], mostly by inhalation. They have been followed regularly for some 42 years. I guess the last [DOE] funding didn't include money [for additional studies].
FISHER: Those are the follow-up people Dr. Voelz(26) has mentioned and reported on.
MOSS: Yes. The number-one person on that list of 27 or 26 names, was the fellow exposed on May 26, 1944. The fellow that was exposed in August of 1944 wasn't included in those 27 because he had an ingestion exposure, not an inhalation [exposure]. The 27 men that were picked were predominately inhalation exposure people. Let me go back to the May exposure of 1944. These two people were working at midnight without authorization from their supervisor. The chief chemist was a metallurgist who previously worked at Berkeley [(at the University of California Radiation Lab)], got his Ph.D. [from University of California at] Berkeley, moved to the Met Lab with Seaborg, and then was transferred to Los Alamos. He knew what he was doing. The conversation I had with him was that VIPs(27) were coming to Los Alamos the next morning. He thought he had an idea for making [Pu] metal reduction.(28) Previous to this they hadn't been successfully making a metal reduction of plutonium. He and his technician began working at midnight, and they were able to reduce plutonium salt to a metal. They got a metal button [(disk)] using what they call [a reduction] bomb. A bomb is a sealed steel tube, and you put the [Pu salt] inside and weld it shut, put it in the furnace, and heat it up. They proceeded. When the reduction was done, they opened up this metal container and plutonium dust was dispersed into the air. But they did have a button of plutonium metal. They put that on their supervisor's desk, Cyril Smith. He went to Battelle(29) [after the war].
FISHER: Can you repeat that again?
MOSS: Cyril Smith. He went to Battelle and was involved in the operation of Hanford(30) research [on Pu]. He was the metallurgist in the [Los Alamos] Chemistry Division. [Dr.] Ted Magel, the fellow I'm talking about, opened the bomb and was exposed to very high concentrations [of Pu dust].
FISHER: This means that some fraction of the plutonium went to metal, but other fractions stayed [as oxide powder].
MOSS: You call it crud [(oxidized Pu)].
FISHER: But other fractions were oxidized?
MOSS: [Yes.] Oxidized [Pu]; you also had residual material. They did actually make the first [Pu] metal reduction from that. That's pretty well-described in a book by [Cyril] Smith on plutonium metallurgy. Nevertheless, they [(Smith and Magel)] thought they were [not] seriously exposed. Hempelmann thought they were. They [(Hempelmann and Smith)] tracked them down and found them in a bar in Santa Fe celebrating their success. When they took the nose swipe the next day, the one fellow, Magel, had a high concentration of plutonium in his nose. They removed both of these people from further plutonium work. Then the story goes like this: Nagel, I talked to him directly. I said, According to the records, you left Los Alamos in August of 1944.@ He said, That's correct. After I was exposed to plutonium, they wouldn't let me work with it anymore, so they assigned me to another job, which was mundane as far as I was concerned. So, I went directly to Oppenheimer. (He knew Oppenheimer.) He said [to Oppenheimer], I'd like to leave the project. I want to go back to Massachusetts. Oppenheimer gave him permission to leave. So he left in August of 1944, and he took his technician with him. That was really the first serious exposure. The second was in August 1944. The fellow was operating equipment; it blew up in his face and he ingested plutonium. So they took him off plutonium work and assigned him to Hempelmann. He was put in charge of developing a more sensitive plutonium urine-analysis method. That puts you right up to January of 1945. They had the cupferron procedure developed [by January 1945], and they were receiving Hanford plutonium. The question came up as to what can we do about measuring the concentration in people's urine based on the high nose concentrations.

Wright Langham Joins the Los Alamos Health and Safety Group

MOSS: The story goes like this now: Hempelmann was giving lectures within the Laboratory about the risk of working with plutonium and the safety procedures to be followed in handling plutonium. During the course of one of these meetings, Hempelmann was giving the lecture, and Wright Langham, who had transferred to Los Alamos in August 1944, got up and made some comments to the effect that he didn't appreciate the biomedical research being done at Chicago. He thought it was misdirected. Hempelmann told me this story. He said [to Langham], Would you mind talking to me afterwards? At this time, they were looking for somebody to head up the biomedical research program at Los Alamos. Hempelmann offered that job to Wright Langham at that time. Louis said [later], We had some heated discussion about which direction this should go, but we always kept ourselves on an even level of friendliness. He persuaded Langham to join the medical group and to supervise the use of the plutonium [cupferron] procedure, including recognizing contamination problems, quality control measures, overspikes,(31) blanks, and so on. Langham started his job in February of 1945. I have a copy of his notebook, and it says in there, the date is February 1945, The first thing we're going to do is to repeat Hamilton's plutonium injection studies in rats. The purpose of that was to study the metabolism of plutonium as a function of dose in groups of rats [and to obtain excretion rates as a function of time in days past injection].

Langham Analyzes Results of Previous Plutonium and Polonium Injection Studies

FISHER: By dose, you mean in terms of injected dose?
MOSS: Injected dose, yes. They wanted to be sure that the metabolic behavior was independent of the dose. The Chicago people, as you probably know, their function was to study the acute effects of plutonium [in animals]. [University of] Rochester [(Rochester, New York)] people were studying the acute effects of radiation damage from polonium. At Los Alamos, Wright Langham said, we need to know whether the [Pu] metabolic process is going to be identical for different doses.
FISHER: In other words, is a low-level exposure metabolized in the same way as the high-dose exposure?
MOSS: [Yes.] I don't have in front of me the doses that they administered, but [they ranged from a low dose] up to a very high-level dose in rats [(0.032 microgram of 239Pu to 52 micrograms of 239Pu)]. The data they got from using the cupferron procedure demonstrated that the metabolic behavior was independent of the dose. They were satisfied. By this time, they had people working with the kilogram [(2.2 pounds) quantities] of plutonium and workers were being exposed, as evidenced by [high] nose counts and urine analyses [(February 1945)].
FISHER: [Exposed] at the Met Lab?
MOSS: Right here at Los Alamos. The notebook record of our [urine] bioassay records begins in February of 1945. The first sample they got on people who were highly exposed, was in connection with the use of the 0.01- percent-per-day [Pu excretion rate] suggested by the animal studies out of Chicago and Berkeley. [These data] suggested there were people who were exceeding 1.0-microgram body burdens. Langham took a look at this [data]. He was a plutonium chemist. He recognized there was a great potential for sample contamination. He got authorization then to [place employees] in a hospital ward [for collection of urine samples under controlled conditions].

Langham Enacts Stringent Research Controls

FISHER: In Los Alamos?
MOSS: In Los Alamos. Scrub down, wear surgical clothing, and spend a twenty-four hour period in the hospital collecting urine samples under sanitary conditions. The previous [urine] samples collected at home showed a comparison; a before-and-after [effect]. There was a dramatic drop in the plutonium concentration in a selected group of about six or seven people [used for this study]. This had quite important implications later on. I'll touch on that right now. I was involved in setting up the bioassay lab in Madrid [Spain] in 1966, as a result of the Palomares Incident, where two of the bombs [(not nuclear)] exploded [above] the village of Palomares, Spain.(32) The first urine samples collected in Palomares, were analyzed in Madrid; half of the earlier samples were sent to Los Alamos and were analyzed there. [The Pu concentrations] were extremely high. Right away, Langham recognized the problem. He said, You can't collect samples in the environment in which there's potential [Pu] contamination. And there was [extensive contamination] in the town of Palomares. The people in Palomares were brought to Madrid, and put in a hospital. Collection occurred under sterile conditions and the results were all zero. Langham's foresight in 1945 paid off in 1966. He recognized that right away. They maintained at Los Alamos what they called the Health Pan Ward, thereafter from 1945 until 1952. The [Los Alamos] plutonium [accident victims] were put in the hospital. They spent 24 hours there, and [the doctors] collected their [24-hour] sample under controlled conditions. [That way, they] minimized the possibility of sample contamination. I'll get back to where I was now; the procedures used for the human injection studies. The study was set up and administered by the Medical Corps of the U.S. Army at Oak Ridge under [Colonel] Stafford Warren.(33) Los Alamos had pushed for some human studies. [(Memo of March 29, 1945, Oppenheimer to S. Warren)].

December 2, 1944 Memo Proposes Human Injection Study

FISHER: By Los Alamos, are you talking Hempelmann or Oppenheimer or Wright Langham?
MOSS: There's nothing really direct that can pin down that kind of an answer, that kind of a statement. There was a committee of people that was formed, and the only record I have is a memo dated December 2, 1944, in which the members of this committee were [listed]. Stafford Warren was, of course, the chairman of the committee. Hempelmann was a committee member. [Joe] Hamilton was a committee member. A fellow, William [F.] Bale, [a biophysicist] from [the University of] Rochester, was a committee member. They met and discussed a human study in which they would inject plutonium into humans and compare the data with the animal experiments. I don't know if you have that memo or not.
FISHER: I think we've seen it.
MOSS: You have a copy of that; we may have gotten it to you. That's the only record in which they had a committee. There is a memo written on August 16, 1944, by Oppenheimer to Hempelmann, in which he says he's authorizing Hempelmann to set up procedures for a more sensitive urine method. Oppenheimer said, AAs to biological studies, which may involve human experiments, we'll discuss that on a later date when you've developed an analytical method. You've seen that memo, I'm sure. That was the clue that was discussed in August of 1944. But the memo of December 2, 1944, is the only evidence that a committee was formed to [plan the plutonium injection studies]. The other documents inform us that Hamilton was involved, and it would be his responsibility for the study involving injection of plutonium-238 [in animals], to compare the toxicity of plutonium radiation and the toxicity of plutonium metal. There were those two concerns. It was the toxicity of the two things: were they independent or not? We do not have evidence that this committee met in December in 1944 and discussed setting up human experiments [but events suggest that they did meet and plan Pu experiments].

Polonium Studies at Rochester

MOSS: The other thing that's quite important in this, is that the matter of polonium(34) [(Po)] had come up before plutonium appeared on the scene. You may be familiar with that, the studies back at Rochester. They did some five or six people; injected four people and gave one person a liquid [containing Po]. The procedure of doing human studies involving radioactive materials within the Manhattan Project had already been established, apparently under Stafford Warren, and these experiments [using polonium-210] were conducted at Rochester [starting in late 1944]. I don't have any evidence that these people sat down and Stafford Warren said We'll do the plutonium at Rochester also. But there is some suggestion that Robert Stone might have entered into the picture and said, Okay, Dr. Warren, I'll authorize the Chicago plutonium injections in humans, and Hamilton will take care of the plutonium-238 experiment at Berkeley. I don't have any evidence of that, but that line seems to be written in between the official memos [we have].

Los Alamos Analyzes Urine and Fecal Samples for 1945 Oak Ridge Injection Study

MOSS: Los Alamos, in March of 45, pushed to have human data for comparison with the animal data. Under Stafford Warren's authorization, personnel at Oak Ridge [injected] the first human with plutonium-239 on April 10, 1945.(35) Los Alamos offered to do the chemistry on urine and fecal samples and had them shipped [to Los Alamos] for analysis. It's apparent that because Los Alamos had developed a sensitive analytical method, which was capable of measuring less-than-1.0-microgram body burdens, Los Alamos was the ideal place to do the plutonium chemistry. That seems to be the story of how Los Alamos got involved, and how they pushed to have it done so Los Alamos could have some comparative [animal and human] data. Los Alamos people were definitely being exposed, and there was no way of assessing the concentration [of Pu in the body other than against the animal data excretion rate suggested by the Met Lab, namely 0.01 percent per day in urine.]

Decisionmakers Involved in Authorizing Human Injection Studies

FISHER: So, it could have involved Oppenheimer?
MOSS: It couldn't have been done without Oppenheimer knowing.
FISHER: So, that leaves Hempelmann and Wright Langham at Los Alamos as perhaps working with Stafford Warren, and maybe even Dr. Friedell?(36)
MOSS: There's no question about it. Yes.
FISHER: Because we know that Dr. Friedell came to Los Alamos in March of 45, two weeks prior to the first injection in Oak Ridge. Apparently that meeting at the end of March had something to do with coordinating the plutonium injections.
MOSS: And the urgency assigned to it? Yes. Correct.
FISHER: Do you remember talking with Wright Langham about the plutonium injection studies?
MOSS: I never did. Like you say, it's quite apparent that Hempelmann was on the committee that discussed these experiments. He was feeding information to Los Alamos people, saying that the committee, under Stafford Warren, was considering human studies. Hempelmann knew this and went to Oppenheimer [in March 1945]. Oppenheimer wrote the letter to Stafford Warren encouraging human studies. Of course, you know the background; that the animal data was variable. Higher concentrations [of Pu] came out [in urine] in different species.

Animal Injection Studies Prove Inconsistent Across Species

FISHER: You mean there was an inconsistency among species?
MOSS: [Yes, there was an] inconsistency among species. The other thing that's quite important to remember here [is this]. The experiments started on the animals in, probably, March of 1944. Hamilton and the people in Chicago picked up on it right away, and they did some rabbit experiments [in Chicago]. The rabbit experiments were high-level: milligram quantities were given to the rabbits. The Berkeley [studies], under Hamilton, were 15-microgram doses. There was a question about whether [the toxicity of Pu was due to the chemistry of the metal or to its radiation]. According to Ann Perley's notebook, the chemist that was assigned to investigate the Chicago procedures in August 1944, the Chicago people said that the [amount] 0.01 percent per day [excreted in urine] appeared to be a reliable lower level for excretion of plutonium in animals, in rabbits. It specified rabbits. It's important to recognize, this is considered to be the minimum amount [excreted per day]. The animal [data] may have actually been a little bit higher than that, at 0.03 [percent], maybe even 0.06. [There were] only two or three rabbits, so they didn't have a lot of data. They took the minimum level, extrapolating the 0.01 percent per day to the 5.0-microgram level and achieved detection for 70 DPM [(decays per minute)] of plutonium per day if the 0.01 percent was the true value of the lower level. They offered what they called [the] anion exchange procedure, which analyzed a 50-milliliter volume of urine directly. The logic was that, with the 50-milliliter samples, you could measure maybe two or three counts of plutonium and you could extrapolate that back to where that [measure] represented a 5.0-microgram body burden. Los Alamos apparently took the position that they were interested in measuring less than the 5.0-microgram that I mentioned earlier. Hempelmann at this time told his people, Let's look at another procedure, to see if we can improve on that. His people came back and said, With this procedure, we'd have to analyze two or three days worth of urine, with our instrument backgrounds being what they are

Langham and the Development of the Cupferron Procedure

MOSS: That leads up to the decision made to develop a more sensitive method. Los Alamos developed the cupferron procedure, which was ready for use by January 1945. Langham was always given credit for developing that procedure. He was a consultant to the people that were developing the procedure [in 1944]. I've looked in several documents that Langham had written prior to his involvement in the Health Division, and he had used the cupferron procedure for analytical procedures [in connection to research on Pu purification in 1944].
FISHER: It does appear that he took some credit for that new procedure.
MOSS: He wrote the procedure up [and listed the people involved]. There were a number of people that worked on the procedure. He published that document in 1947 in [LAMS-603, Determination of Pu in Human Urine]. He was the author.
FISHER: Earlier I asked you this question: Do you remember talking with Wright Langham about the plutonium injection studies?
MOSS: No, I never talked to Wright directly [about the human Pu studies]. You realize I came in 1953. We never talked directly about the injection cases. I had records on key people who were excreting quantities of plutonium that were easily detectable. I had graphed these [data], and I had showed them to Dean Meyer, who was the Health Physics group leader. He said, that's very interesting. About this time in 1957, we adopted the Hanford NTA(37) method. Langham went to Mo [(Morris)] Milligan, who was my supervisor, and said, we want to collect some more samples from the 27 UPPU people. They got the containers together, and shipped them. We got the urine samples back, and analyzed them by the NTA method. It became quite apparent that the excretion rates on those people were not following the so-called Langham power function.(38) They recognized early in the game that they weren't following the function that had been described [by a single-term power function model].

Use of the Bismuth Phosphate Test

FISHER: That a new mathematical function needed to be developed?
MOSS: They talked about that. In 1949, there was a group of people working in the bioassay group under [Mo] Milligan. There were four people analyzing the urine samples at that time. They took a turn each week to analyze groups of samples. The cupferron procedure used a color end-point indicator. That end point was critical for extracting plutonium [from the ashed urine sample solution]. Two of those four people were color-blind. I talked to the fellow that was running this procedure at that time. You know Ken Shillern; he's in Albuquerque. I called him up and I said, Ken, why did you change [the Pu] procedure in 1949 from the cupferron to the bismuth phosphate procedure? He said, Very simple: two of us couldn't see the color end point! So, they talked them into switching over to the bismuth phosphate. I called Mo up. He lives in California. I said, Why did you change to the bismuth phosphate procedure in 1949? He said, we could get more samples analyzed. I said, What about the color-blind people? He said, I never heard of that. Once they got this bismuth phosphate procedure [in 1949], they also got better instrumentation for measuring lower concentrations [of alpha activities].

Long-Term Follow-Up of Two Rochester Plutonium Injectees

MOSS: At that time this is now 1950. Langham is interested in getting additional samples from the injected people. He knows that two of those people are still living. So, they had a series of correspondence between Langham and the people at Rochester ([Samuel] Bassett was there), saying, Can you locate these people to get some more urine from them? We've got a mathematical model that has been developed, the power function model, that describes the excretion over the first 138 days. We want to get some additional points. He's saying that Mo Milligan, who was in charge of the analytical procedure, had a more sensitive method, and we think we'll be able to measure [Pu alpha activity]. He does not say this, but it is obvious that, based on the power function model, the concentration will be quite low. So you need a more sensitive method. They were able to collect a series of four 24-hour samples from two of the previously injected people from the Rochester 1945-to-1946 series. Those urine samples were shipped to Los Alamos and analyzed here [in the summer of 1950].
FISHER: Did you do those analyses?
MOSS: No, I wasn't involved. This was 1950. [I wasn't] here [then]. The results were again analyzed by three of the four analysts [responsible for using the bismuth phosphate procedure in 1950].
FISHER: Since 1946.
MOSS: This is 1950. The [humans were] injected in 1945 to 46. Five years later, they [obtained] some more samples from the same people. The results [obtained in 1950] were consistent with the [138-day] power function [model] prediction. They modified the parameters of the power function [model] and came up with a five-year power function model. That essentially puts you right to 1950. The people at Los Alamos were anxious to publish the human injection studies and they had [already] written the text [based on the 1945-to-46 data but] decided they needed some more data points. Do you know Payne Harris?
MOSS: Payne is one of the coauthors of the famous plutonium injection studies publication from 1950 [(LA-1151)].(39) Payne comes into the picture in 1949. Wright [Langham] had asked him to work on the mathematical development of a model to describe plutonium excretion. Payne visited here [in 1994]. I talked to him twice. I asked him about the circumstances of how they used the power function. He said, we tried everything, including other mathematical models, and it looked like the power function was the most logical. I said, Were you aware at that time that [William] Norris(40) at Chicago had applied a power function to describe radium excretion? It was published in 1948 and was given in a Cold Spring Harbor meeting. I have a copy of the publication. All the attendees at the meeting [are listed], and nobody was there from Los Alamos. Payne said, No, we never realized that anybody had used the power function to describe this sort of thing previously. He was quite gratified that someone else had done it. I explained what we were doing and he said, Great! Good that you're doing this. It helps clarify the problem. Essentially, this brings us to where we are at this moment. We recognized, first of all, that the power function wasn't adequate to describe long-term [Pu] excretion. When the Rundo article came out [in 1976B1981]C
FISHER: John Rundo's paper?(41)

Moss Reevaluates Langham's Results

MOSS: They obtained [urine] samples in 1972 from the same two Rochester [Pu injection study] people that were originally sampled in 1950, and got a completely different picture [from the data]. Do you remember the paper that was given at the Snowbird, Utah, meeting [in 1979]?(42) [In it,] there was some question about whether more plutonium was coming out [than predicted by the Langham model]. That's essentially when I got back into the picture. I said, Let's start looking at the records. Langham died at the same time in 1972. I went to the Los Alamos Military Archives Records [Center], pulled out the Langham notebooks, and looked at the analytical procedures [used]. As we reexamined this project, I went back and looked at the bioassay records for one man in particular. This fellow had serious [acute Pu] exposure in July of 1945 and has been here [(Los Alamos)] for fifty years. Looking at his [plutonium bioassay] profile, you can track the variation in his urinary excretion rate as a function of the analytical method [used]. [These fluctuations are] not so much [due to] the physiological function, but the analytical methods.
FISHER: Which has been evolving through the years.
MOSS: Which involves four or five different analytical procedures, including the first sample [analyzed] by the cupferron procedure [in 1945], the bismuth phosphate procedure [in the 1950s], the NTA method [1957 to 62], the method we used later where we do direct [Pu] precipitation [and] ashing, and now the procedure where we add ammonia hydroxide to the sample and precipitate [anion exchange, electroplate and alpha spectrometry counting with plutonium-242 tracer].
FISHER: That makes the analysis fairly complex.
MOSS: Simple. It's very simple now. As you look at his records, you can see a scatter, but you will also see a trend as a function of changing analytical methods [used since 1945]. Then of course the tracer methodology came into play about 1966. About 1969, we obtained NBS alpha standards,(43) [plutonium-]238 standards. You get a little more jump [in the data in 1969]. We can apply corrections as a function of the analytical method. Of course, you've got the cupferron procedure for the 45-to-46 period, you've got the bismuth phosphate for the 1950 period, and you've got the tracer method for the [1966-to-1994 period] At the time, the Chicago people collected the additional [urine] samples from two of the [Rochester Pu] injected people in 1972. They split the samples and sent half [of them] to Los Alamos. So, we've got two laboratories analyzing the samples, and they are in absolute, complete agreement. The information I'm writing up now is the correction of the [Rochester] injection data as a function of evolving analytical methods. It helps clarify the record. It also tells us that the data collected in 1950 [from both the Pu injected subjects and occupational exposed personnel is in error].
FISHER: For the reasons that?
MOSS: The analytical method that was applied to those samples had very poor quality control measures. There were four analysts and a new procedure that hadn't been thoroughly checked out. [Also,] this is the answer they wanted to get, when they [(Langham, etc.,)] really got the answer that was close to what they might have expected to get [based on the power function model]. The results they got in 1950 suggested that somewhere around 0.001 percent of the injected [plutonium] was the rate [eliminated per day] [after 160 days]. The [actual] answers are really close to 0.004 or 0.005 percent per day. You've got quite a scattering there as a function of the analysts' [method used]. [The answers they got in 1950 were] close to the power function fit that was developed from the short-term [(138-day)] data. We went back and looked at the original injection data, and we also realized that the urine data was not corrected for chemical yield. It had about a 12-percent [analytical] error. Fecal samples were corrected for chemical yield by overspiking the fecal sample. The fecal data are corrected; the urine [data] are not corrected. I think we can straighten out some of the misunderstanding about the power function modeling and why it doesn't agree with the trend that we see [in the data after 138 days]. I had a statistician here and he helped me work this up [using] sum of the exponential models, also the sum of two exponential models.

Reanalysis of Excretion Studies to be Published

FISHER: Are you close to having that reanalysis published?
MOSS: Yes, that's the goal of this whole thing. I retired five years ago, [went back to work soon thereafter,] and I was planning to retire again last January. Then this subject came up, so they got me into this project. By the way, as soon as this group was formed, I went to the project leaders, who at that time were Alan McMillan and Gary [Sanders].(44) I took the Langham notebook and said, Look, the first thing you've got to know is that there are some errors in the Langham data. There are some unused data that were never recognized. And, there were some mistakes in the analytical method that contributed to this. They said, Fine, you're onboard. Let's get everything together. Let's get the notebooks out. Let's get them available. So they've been released. I talked to Pat Durbin,(45) I explained to her what I'm doing. She and I both agreed she wanted the tissue data. [I would be responsible for the excreta data.]
FISHER: Have you been able to locate all the data from the urine samples that were originally collected?
MOSS: Yes, we got all the notebook records. [Two notebooks detail the Oak Ridge data.] Then in October, they started a second series [of Pu injection studies], and there were 11 other people injected. They got urine samples from 10. [Including the Oak Ridge case], there were 11 sets of urine samples analyzed at Los Alamos. There were other samples collected in 1946, 47, and 48, from three of the people [from the Rochester series]. This isn't Langham's notebook [per se]. They put quotations on Langham's notebook. These are [entries from] people that worked under Langham's supervision. When they entered these results in the notebook, they would write down a code number for [each sample]. They wrote the date of collection, [wrote] the volume [of the sample], and [recorded the Pu measurement data].

Finding and Correcting Errors in the Data

FISHER: The volume of the sample?
MOSS: Yes, the volume of the sample [per 24-hour collection]. Using the cupferron method, they would ash the sample, dissolve it in acid, and then they would take two aliquots(46) for analysis. These got paired sample [results] from each urine sample collected from the [Rochester] people from the initial exposure date starting in October 1945.(47) Then, when they went to tabulate that data. This is the story I got from Payne Harris. When they tabulated the data, someone went into the notebook and would write down day one, the result; day two, the result; Day three, the result; all the way down [to the last sample]. But there was a break in three or four of those people's [data]. Samples were collected to twenty-some days, and [then] there was a break in the collective sampling [and sampling did not resume until additional samples were collected at] day 80, 81, 82, 83, etc. But when the person tabulated the data, it was listed as day 21, 22, 23, 24, etc. Now, when you reconstruct this data, in four of the cases, it doesn't fit a [simple, single-term] power function.
FISHER: Because the wrong days were assigned?
MOSS: [They were] incorrectly tabulated. I asked Payne Harris, Did you ever look at the notebook? Payne Harris said, no, we just had a yellow tablet, which they had to tabulate the data. There is no question that there was a clearing out of plutonium from the blood [following Pu injection]. Then you get metabolized plutonium coming out [in the urine some 20 days post-injection. The two excretion rates are different and are not described by a single-term power function model.]
FISHER: The clearing from the blood is either to the liver or the skeleton?
MOSS: Yes, a bit of phenomenon appears to be occurring. The injected plutonium pretty well concentrates in the bone marrow and then clears out of there. Then, you eventually get deposits in the bone and then you get metabolized plutonium coming out [in the urine]. The initial plutonium is not really metabolized plutonium. It's simply filtered out [by the kidneys], and then eventually you've got [metabolized Pu] coming out [in the urine]. We've got a nice model. We've got an error bar(48) associated with using all the data. We did exclude the Oak Ridge case.(49)
FISHER: For what reason?
MOSS: The Oak Ridge data have several errors associated with them. One is that the Langham record indicates that 65 consecutive samples were collected. But that's not really true. There were something like 42 consecutive samples and then there's a gap. [(Samples were collected out to 89 days.)] The last series of samples collected from the Oak Ridge case were 48-hour samples, not 24-hour samples. They were never acknowledged that way. The notebook records indicate that they were 48-hour samples. So there's a big jump in the quantity of plutonium coming out [at that time, day 71 to day 89].
FISHER: By a factor of two?
MOSS: Yes. There's no question about it. So, we had justification for excluding the HP-12 case, which is the Oak Ridge case, from our modeling.
FISHER: Did you consider some of the bone sample analysis from HP-12?
MOSS: No, the person that was injected at Oak Ridge was involved in a serious automobile accident. They did the injection and, then, they did a repair of his bone fracture and obtained small sample fragments of the femur and then some teeth. They weren't really adequate samples. There were bone samples. However, the [urine] data for the first five or six days were not very good. It doesn't fit the model.
FISHER: The urine data?
MOSS: Yes, the urine data. They analyzed each voiding independently. So they compounded chemical errors. We've made a justification for excluding HP-12 [(the Oak Ridge victim of a vehicle accident)] from our selection of modeling data.
FISHER: And you didn't really use the bone sample data?
MOSS: I'm not really talking about that. Pat Durbin will write that up independently. Then we'll get together and compare our notes. We also made a decision that California-1(50) is probably not adequately monitored for chemical yields. Pat seems to feel the same way, that's a bit of funny data [beyond 100 days post-injection].

Other Information Contained in the Langham Research Notebooks

FISHER: Is there anything else, with regard to the plutonium injection study, that you'd like to add? Any personal recollections of that study?
MOSS: I don't find anything written other than what I mentioned.
FISHER: Was there anything in the Langham notebook with regard to selection of subjects?
MOSS: No, nothing.
FISHER: Consent of subjects?
MOSS: Nothing.
FISHER: Their names?
MOSS: The names for the first four or five, maybe six people were written in one of the laboratory notebooks. Then, I think, starting with HP [code after subject # 5], there were no names included thereafter.
FISHER: How were the subjects identified, by number?
MOSS: By number, the HP number. I'm not sure what that stands for. It may be for Hospital Patient; I don't know.
FISHER: Is there anything in the notebooks that discusses the physical condition of the subjects, their health status?
MOSS: Nothing.
FISHER: Their life expectancy?
MOSS: Nothing.
FISHER: Or their death when that occurred?
MOSS: Nothing. Nothing at all in the notebooks. It's all written up in LA-1151. That's the only source of information.
FISHER: Have you identified any other laboratory notebooks or records with data, or do you only have the notebooks to go on?
MOSS: We only have the notebooks. When they first started, they made parallel notebooks. One notebook contained the HP number and the other contained the names. They [contained the] same analytical data, though. At the end, when they got to HP-5, they quit putting the names down, and they exclusively used one notebook with the HP number only.
FISHER: There's no indication as to why they changed that procedure?
MOSS: No, nothing. [(Rochester didn't include names after HP-5.)]

Other Bioassay Studies

FISHER: Do you recall doing bioassay chemical analysis of either urine, feces, tissue, or other bioassay for other experiments conducted at Los Alamos?
MOSS: No, not in the sense that you'd call them [that]. I think you have to differentiate from the tissues that we got from deceased people.(51)
FISHER: There were selective administrations of radioisotopes after the whole-body counter(52) was developed.
MOSS: I wasn't involved in that.
FISHER: Certain subjects were counted in the whole-body counter. I wondered if any of the urine had been sent to your lab for analysis?
MOSS: Not that I'm aware of.
FISHER: To develop urine excretion functions?
MOSS: We never did that here.
FISHER: Do you remember developing any urinary or fecal excretion functions for any radionuclides other than plutonium?
MOSS: None whatsoever. You should put it in context here. You've heard the name Harry Foreman,(53) of course. Harry was brought to the lab out of Berkeley to work on chelation(54) therapy technique. Harry had a lot of other interests. He was looking at fallout in antlers of deer from this area. He also had the idea that it would be interesting to study the concentration of plutonium in the lungs of people. He made arrangements [in 1956] with Clarence Lushbaugh,(55) who was an M.D. and also a local pathologist(56) for the hospital. He collected some lung samples and he asked them
FISHER: Lung samples from
MOSS: Los Alamos people, who had died [in the Los Alamos Hospital]. Then he asked for the samples and brought them to me. Harry asked for a chemical analysis for plutonium. We did about five or six lung samples [in 1956], and the numbers are recorded in a notebook, but there were no names associated with [the samples].
FISHER: What did you do with this information?
MOSS: It's in the notebook.
FISHER: It was never used for any other purpose?
MOSS: No other purpose. There was a case called the [Oral] Epley Case(57) in Nevada [at the Nevada Test Site],(58) where there was a worker that was exposed out there. He died later. They got tissues from that person. Harry Foreman gave me the residue and asked me to analyze it. I analyzed it for plutonium. That was in 56. Kelley died in 1959.
FISHER: Cecil Kelley?
MOSS: [Yes,] Cecil Kelley.(59) Since he had a plutonium body burdened by his urine analysis record, we got permission from the wife to get tissues. Of course, I was involved in the analysis of those tissues.
FISHER: You were involved?
MOSS: Yes, I was involved in the analysis of those tissues. That was the first case in which we had [both] a fairly good [Pu] bioassay record that showed evidence of positive [Pu] urine results and tissue [samples]. That was going to be the first test to see how the Langham power function model [worked].
FISHER: How long after intake of plutonium did Mr. Kelley die?
MOSS: I'd have to look it up in the record. That was 59 when he died. He probably had a 15-year [Pu bioassay] record.
FISHER: Of plutonium bioassay?
MOSS: He had several incidents of intake of Pu [while working at the Laboratory].

Tissue Registry Program at Los Alamos

FISHER: Were there multiple exposures?
MOSS: There were several. He had been taken off plutonium for a while and then put back on. This was going to be really the first test of applying a long-term bioassay record with chronic [Pu] exposures, the paper that was written by Foreman, Moss, and Langham. The [Pu body burden] estimated by the power function model was 18 nanocuries.(60) The concentration found in the tissues was 19 nanocuries; something close to that value. It was fortuitous that the two burdens agreed that well. They did say it was the first test of the Langham model. That gave a lot of strength to the acceptance of that [Pu] power function model. It was quite important. That was the beginning of a real tissue program in which we got tissues from people who died in Los Alamos and went to autopsy.
FISHER: Has there been any other comparison of your analysis data and tissue sampling on autopsy or donors to the Registry?(61)
MOSS: Quite a few now with the Registry.
FISHER: To confirm the power function model?
MOSS: Yes, those have been written up by Ron Kathren(62) and Jim McInroy.(63) They were recently published in the last couple of years. They had an extensive paper where they compared all the different [Pu excretion] models. That's a couple of years ago. It's important to emphasize that that particular Kelley case gave us some data to support the argument that the power function model was a good estimate of [Pu] burdens. I wanted to get that in the record. The other thing I wanted to mention: I'm convinced, and Payne Harris is convinced, that Langham never really went back and looked at his laboratory notebooks and identified the fact that there were tabulation errors in the [1945-to-46] data. Otherwise, I think he would have recognized it. It is rather interesting to note that when the additional urine samples were collected at 80 days from two of those injected people, the urine results are incorrectly tabulated, but the fecal results are correct in the Langham report [(LA-1151)]. That's just something to be aware of. We're going to correct that. We're going to rewrite, if you will, the Langham paper, remodel the data, and then use the Rundo data. Also [we will] use additional data collected from HP-4, HP-7, HP-9, at 300, 400, and 500 days. Why that was never used, I don't know. Perhaps they didn't think it was good analytical data, or they didn't realize it was in the record.
FISHER: I hope this does happen.
MOSS: I've been working on it a long time.
FISHER: We encouraged you to do this as early as 1986.
MOSS: I realize this. Gary [Sanders] was aware of this. You talked to him about it.
FISHER: I personally think that this is very important work because it makes the most utilization of the urinalysis data that were collected as early as 1945. And it is important for accurate assessment of intakes by workers in the present.
MOSS: As a result of [the revaluation of] this study now, and the [HSPT](64) project study, [we've recognized] that some of the scattering [(apparently random deviation from an expected result)] of data is [analytical in nature,] not physiological.(65) When Pat Durbin was out here, I mentioned that to her. She was very insistent. She said, Go ahead and correct that data! I said, That was our intention: to correct the data for what we now recognize are biases contributed by analytical methods.
FISHER: Will that reduce some of the scatter in the data?
MOSS: That will reduce the scatter. Also, I think we can make a justification for not including in our modeling the HP-12 case, which is the [original] Oak Ridge case, and probably exclusion of the California-1 case.

Los Alamos Staff Participants in Studies

FISHER: Bill, to change the subject and just tie up a few loose ends before we conclude, were you ever a participant yourself in any radionuclide experiments?
FISHER: Or any of your children?
MOSS: No. I was a control person, though, for some LANL human studies when they were doing the metabolic studies in the 1960s. They counted me as a control person with no intake of any kind.
FISHER: Do you know of any experiments that took place at Los Alamos that haven't already been released by the laboratory?
MOSS: None that I know of. To qualify that a little bit, the group I was in, which was called the Industrial Hygiene Group [(H-5)], was in the same building as the Langham research [group H-4, Bio-Medical Research]. There was a close relationship between everybody in the building. We were all invited to seminars. We, as a group of people from a different group, [attended] most of the [same] seminars and were aware of what studies were going on [or] had been done.
FISHER: So you had knowledge of all of these studies, but were not a participant?
MOSS: I knew people who were participants, and I talked to them about what they were doing.
FISHER: For example?
MOSS: Evan Campbell(66) was one of the persons. I knew Chet Richmond(67) very well.
FISHER: What did Evan Campbell participate in?
MOSS: I'm not sure. He was one of the persons though that took radionuclides; not plutonium, of course.
FISHER: When this happened, was there a general acceptance by the staff that these were appropriate studies, at sufficiently low doses, and that the information was sufficiently valuable to warrant these studies going forward?
MOSS: Absolutely. I think the quality of the people doing the studies was recognized, and the risk was identified as minimal.
FISHER: Were there any such studies with alpha emitters(68) where bioassay was required to assess the excretion rates?
MOSS: Almost all the work that Richmond was doing involved gamma emitters.(69)
FISHER: Gamma emitters that could be measured in the whole-body counter?

Long-Term Profiles Performed With Radium

MOSS: [Yes,] they were easy to measure. That's another thing that's important. In modeling biological data, at that time period, in the 1940s, there had been no previous studies of long half-life material that gave a long-term [biological] profile. Even though some radium studies had been done, it was not until Norris [at Argonne] was able to locate the radium people that were injected in 1931 in Elgin, Illinois,(70) that they were able to get the 20-year [excretion] profile.
FISHER: On radium?
MOSS: On radium, yes. Before that, all the studies were limited-term, lacked sensitivity, and had no real understanding of the modeling. Almost everything was plotted on linear paper, [with a] dramatic drop and the leveling off of rate. It wasn't until Norris started looking at the semilog paper and log-log paper in the late 40s, that the power function [model] developed.(71)
FISHER: In working with Wright Langham, in his later years, even as late as 1970, did he ever express any regret for having participated in the plutonium injection study that you recall?
MOSS: He never said anything to me that would indicate any regret.
FISHER: Or was he ever reluctant to talk about it?
MOSS: I never talked to him about it. It wasn't a subject we talked about. Not that we ignored it, it just never came up.

Public Misperceptions About Radiation

CAPUTO: You've been working on this project now since January [1994], and you've seen how this issue has been perceived by the public. Do you feel that there are any misconceptions that should be corrected?
MOSS: There is a misperception that the people at Los Alamos had little regard for radiological risk. The public has no concept of radiation. They are almost inclined to think that any kind of radiation is bad for you. Any concept that they are living in a radioactive world is missing from their point of view.
CAPUTO: Is there anything else you want to add? Anything you felt we've missed?
MOSS: I just think that we should emphasize that the people doing these studies were reputable people. There was no question about the quality of any of them. You know George Voelz personally. You've meet Don Petersen;(72) you may have known him before.
FISHER: I've known Clarence Lushbaugh for twenty years.
MOSS: These are fine people. In the case of Lushbaugh, when I had a serious illness in my family, I went to him on several occasions and he said, Give me your doctor's number, I'll call him up and I'll tell you what I think. He came back to me and said, This is what I think. He gave me what I consider ethical advice about what I should do, and so on. I thought he was a fine fellow.
FISHER: Thank you very much for your time. We greatly appreciate it.