DOE Openness: Human Radiation Experiments: Roadmap to the Project
(1)During World War II, the University of Chicago ran a toxicity laboratory for the U.S. Army Chemical Corps to conduct research in chemical warfare. From 1948 until 1951, the Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) used the facility for radiological warfare research. In 1948, the AEC worked with the Army and the university on a research program for the laboratory that focused on the poisonous effects of radiation exposure. Animal research was conducted on the local effects and general toxicity of radioisotopes considered for use as radiological warfare agents. Some coincidental work was also done with Argonne National Laboratory on developing occupational safety practices for radiation handling.
(2)Metallurgical Laboratory, the laboratory set up at the University of Chicago during World War II to lead the secret research and development of controlled nuclear fission under the Manhattan Project
(7)accelerators in which particles move in spiral paths in a constant magnetic field. The resulting beam of high-speed particles can disintegrate atomic nuclei and may be used to produce radionuclides.
(14)a professor of Radiology at the University of Rochester (Rochester, New York), site of research involving plutonium and human subjects. Dr. Warren worked on the Manhattan Project in Oak Ridge as head of the medical section and headed an Intramedical Advisory Committee. After World War II, Dr. Warren became dean of the University of California, Los Angeles Medical School.
(15)For the transcript of the interview with Friedell, see DOE/EH-0466, Human Radiation Studies: Remembering the Early Years; Oral History of Radiologist Hymer L. Friedell, M.D., Ph.D. (July 1995).
(18)Leroy was dean of the University of Chicago medical school. During the days of the Met Lab he researched the metabolism of radionuclides by man. At Argonne Cancer Research Hospital during the 1950s and '60s he researched lipid chemistry to understand the role of cholesterol in atherosclerosis. In 1951 he served as biomedical director of the AEC's Operation Greenhouse series of atomic-bomb tests. Several of the publications he coauthored can be found in the University of Chicago section of Human Radiation Experiments Associated with the U.S. Department of Energy and Its Predecessors (213 pages), DOE/EH-0491, July 1995.
(21)one of three clinical facilities created by the Atomic Energy Commission in 1948. While the AEC owned the 58-bed Chicago hospital, the University of Chicago medical school administered and staffed the facility. Patients were admitted on a selective basis: physicians chose persons whose condition best suited the hospital's research and treatment applications. The hospital admitted its first patient in January 1953. The AEC terminated its contract with the hospital in 1974.
(24)Dr. Clarence C. Lushbaugh, M.D., Ph.D.Staff member of the Biomedical Research Group at Los Alamos National Laboratory from 1949 to 1963. Chief Scientist of the Medical and Health Sciences Division at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, 1963 to 1975, and Chairman of the Medical and Health Sciences Division at Oak Ridge, 1975 to 1984. For the transcript of the interview with Lushbaugh, see DOE/EH-0453, Human Radiation Studies: Remembering the Early Years; Oral History of Pathologist Clarence Lushbaugh, M.D. (April 1995).
(25)Form 189 (Research Proposal), a funding document used by the National Laboratories for preparation of short-form scientific proposals to the Atomic Energy Commission, and later the Energy Research and Development Administration, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, and the Department of Energy
(26)a series of two atomic bomb tests conducted at Bikini Atoll in the Marshall Islands while a fleet of surplus U.S. and captured German and Japanese warships were anchored in the lagoon as a test array. Many of these ships were damaged and set ablaze by the first shot (Able), which was dropped from a B-29 bomber and detonated in the atmosphere, July 1, 1946. Many more were sunk by the shock waves from the second shot (Baker), detonated in the lagoon July 15, 1946. Yields of both tests were in the 21-kiloton range. (A kiloton is equivalent to the blast effect from 1,000 tons of high explosive.) Source for yields: Office of External Affairs; Announced United States Nuclear Tests, July 1945 Through December 1988; U.S. Department of Energy Nevada Operations Office; September 1989; pp. 24. (hereafter referred to as U.S. Nuclear Tests)
(27)a series of three nuclear weapon tests, detonated between April 14 and May 14, 1948 and ranging in yield from 18 to 49 kilotons (Source: U.S. Nuclear Tests, ibid.). The Sandstone shots were reportedly the first proof tests conducted by the U.S. since the July 1945 Trinity test and to have been intended to assist in developing design principles for second-generation nuclear weapons. All three shots were detonated on 200-foot-high towers. 10,200 people participated in Operation Sandstone. Source: Robert S. Norris, Thomas B. Cochrane, and William M. Arkin; NWD 86-2 Known U.S. Nuclear Tests, July 1945 to 31 December 1985; February 1986; Washington, DC; Natural Resources Defense Council (hereafter referred to as NWD 86-2).
(28)the first of three series of nuclear weapon tests conducted at the Pacific Test Range. Operation Greenhouse included four tests detonated between April 7 and May 24, 1951, from towers at Eniwetok Atoll in the Marshall Islands. The only confirmed blast yield was for Shot Easy, said to be in the 47-kiloton range (Source: U.S. Nuclear Tests). To collect data on nuclear effects, 15,000 animals were reportedly used in the Greenhouse series. Source: NWD 86-2.
(29)the second of three series of nuclear weapon tests conducted at the Pacific Test Range. Operation Ivy, held at Eniwetok, involved two tests on October 31 and November 15, 1952. Shot Mike, a surface burst that yielded a blast in the 10.4-megaton range (U.S. Nuclear Tests), is reported to have been the first test of an experimental thermonuclear device, in which substantial portions of the energy released came from fusion of hydrogen isotopes. (A megaton is the equivalent of the blast effect from one million tons of high explosive.) Shot King, an airdrop from a B-36 bomber, had a yield in the 500-kiloton range (U.S. Nuclear Tests) and was the largest fission weapon detonated by the U.S. Source: NWD 86-2, p. 14.
(30)the third of three series of nuclear weapon tests conducted at the Pacific Test Range. Operation Castle involved five tests at Bikini Atoll and one at Eniwetok detonated on barges and at the surface between February 28 and May 13, 1954. One test fizzled, yielding a blast in the 110-kiloton range. The rest were in the 1.69- to 15-megaton range (U.S. Nuclear Tests). Reported to have been the capstone series for the project to develop the hydrogen bomb, begun in 1950, all of the Castle tests were planned to produce multimegaton yields. The yields of the first two tests, Bravo and Romeo, were well above those expected. Source NWD 86-2, p. 16.
(31)Project Sunshine was initiated by the AEC in response to the urgent need for radiation biomedical information. The Project began as an evaluation of the hazards associated with nuclear war and grew into a worldwide investigation of radioactive fallout levels in the environment and in human beings.
(34)a series of chemical compounds that scintillate when irradiated. The use of one oxazoleterphenylfor scintillation counting was pioneered at Los Alamos in the '50s. Terphenyl remains a staple for scintillation counters.
(38)director of Oak Ridge National Laboratory's Biology Division. Hollaender is noted several times in DOE/EH-0475, Human Radiation Studies: Remembering the Early Years; Oral History of Health Physicist Karl Z. Morgan, Ph.D. (June 1995).
(41)Joseph Hamilton, an M.D., worked at Crocker Laboratory, then the site of a 60-inch cyclotron that he operated to produce radioisotopes in support of research and some medical diagnosis and treatment. Crocker was part of the Lawrence Radiation Laboratory, later renamed Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory, in Berkeley, California.
(44)Ernest Carl Anderson was a physical chemist who worked at the University of Chicago Metallurgical Laboratory during the Manhattan Project, 194244, and then at Los Alamos Scientific Laboratory. Dr. Anderson received the AEC's E.O. Lawrence Award in 1966. He conducted research in natural radiocarbon, liquid scintillation counters, low-level radioactivity measurements, and cellular biochemistry.
(48)For a description of 24 experiments, with references, see "Los Alamos National Laboratory" in Human Radiation Experiments Associated with the U.S. Department of Energy and Its Predecessors (213 pages), DOE/EH-0491, July 1995.
(52)any of several cancers of the bone marrow characterized by an abnormal increase of white blood cells in the tissues, resulting in anemia, increased susceptibility to infection, and impaired blood clotting
(58)HUMCO I was the first whole body radiation counter that became operational at Los Alamos National Laboratory in 1956; the sensitivity and noninvasiveness of this new instrument permitted studies at levels 10 to 100 times below established limits of exposure.
(60)an intense magenta dye that can be measured colorimetrically in blood samples. Rose bengal was useful because it was cleared efficiently by the liver, just like the hormone thyroxin, which it was intended to simulate.
(61)The scintillation counters detected virtually all nuclear disintegrations; Geiger-Mueller detectors, by contrast, had been able to detect only about 5 percent. Their superior sensitivity is how such counters made it possible to reduce the radioactive dose by 90 percent or more.
(62)a clinical test of liver function using rose bengal to measure a sequence of blood samples. It made bromsulfalein injections unnecessary by allowing the subject to simply stick an arm into a scintillation counter after swallowing rose bengal. Art Tamplin conceived the test; Lushbaugh made its use practical.
(66)The study's purpose was to determine the retention of iodine in the thyroid as a function of time, with a particular interest in radioiodine metabolism in children. Nineteen normal male and female subjects ranging in age from 4 to 46 drank approximately 10 nanocuries each of iodine-125 and iodine-131 mixed together in water. Subsequent measurements showed that there was little difference in radioiodine metabolism between children and adults. The work was supported by the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission.
(69)A millirem is one-thousandth of a rem. A rem is a unit of radiation dose equivalent, or "rads times the quality factor, Q." The limits for occupational exposure of workers to radiation range from 2 to 5 rem per year for most countries.
(70)In 1966, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) made recommendations to the Surgeon General's Office for the creation of what are now known as Institutional Review Boards (IRBs). IRBs review and approve medical research involving humans.
(71)Formed in a May 1947 reorganization, the "H" or Health Division had responsibility for a much broader range of health activities than its predecessor, the Health Group (Group A-10). These responsibilities included radiological safety, health physics, and industrial health. The H Division also monitored exposures and had safety responsibility for all weapons tests conducted by the Laboratory.
(72)Shields Warren, M.D., had been Chief Pathologist at New England Deaconess Hospital and Professor of Pathology at Harvard Medical School. Dr. Warren served on the first U.S. team to visit Hiroshima and Nagasaki after they were bombed with atomic weapons and was involved in creating what became the Atomic Bomb Casualty Commission. He was the first director of the AEC's Division of Biology and Medicine and, later, established his own cancer research institute at New England Deaconess Hospital.
(73)In a May 1947 reorganization, the research functions of the Health Group became the responsibility of a new group, H-4 (Radiobiology), under the direction of Wright Langham. During the late 1940s and early 1950s, research with human subjects at Los Alamos was limited to tritium studies. The human subjects were researchers in Group H-4. In 1949, the group's name was changed to Bio-Medical Research. Langham headed this group until his death in 1972. At the time of his death, H-4 had grown to 70 staff members working in molecular biology, cellular radiobiology, mammalian biology, biophysics, veterinary biology, and pathology.
(76)Operation Ranger was the first series of nuclear weapon tests for which the Nevada Test Site was used. Starting with the first test in the series with a one-kiloton weapon on January 27, 1951, a total of five weapons were airdropped, each from a B-50 bomber. Yields ranged up to 22 kilotons (U.S. Nuclear Tests). The series is reported to have been preparation for the MayApril 1951 Greenhouse series in the Pacific. Source: NWD 86-2, pp. 1213.
(77)Operation Buster-Jangle was a series of seven nuclear weapons tests conducted at the Nevada Test Site, in which nuclear explosives were detonated between October 22, 1951 and November 29, 1951. Ranging in yield from 1.2 kilotons to 31 kilotons (U.S. Nuclear Tests), the tests included four airdrops and a tower, surface, and crater shot. The last three types of tests generated large quantities of fallout because the explosion sucked up rock, soil, and debris from the crater it created and from the surrounding surface area. During Buster-Jangle, the first three of eight Desert Rock troop exercises were conducted by the Department of Defense to explore nuclear battlefield conditions and tactics. Source: NWD 86-2, p. 13.
(79)Carroll Tyler was a nuclear weapons test manager at Los Alamos Scientific Laboratory. At the time of this exchange, Brigadier General Kenneth D. Fields was assigned to the Armed Forces Special Weapons Project, an antecedent of today's Defense Nuclear Agency. Later, Fields became the director of the AEC's Division of Military Applications (DMA).
(80)The initial memorandum from Tyler to Fields, requesting a letter releasing AEC from responsibility for military use of troops as human subjects, is the document that was found by Dr. Petersen in the files at Los Alamos National Laboratory. However, according to Dr. Petersen, a search at Los Alamos has failed to turn up a reply from Fields.
(81)for example, CIC document #720376, a letter from Fields to Tyler acknowledging Tyler's distaste for the flashblindness tests but stressing the importance of such programs to the Department of Defense.
(84)Sandia National Laboratory, based in Albuquerque, on Kirtland Air Force Base, was then and remains today a principal research and development facility for nuclear weapons design and nuclear weapons effects.
(85)Operation Upshot-Knothole was a series of eleven nuclear tests, including tower and airdrop tests and one nuclear artillery test (Shot Grable), conducted between March 17, 1953, and June 4, 1953, at the Nevada Test Site. Yields ranged from 0.2 kiloton to 61 kilotons (U.S. Nuclear Tests). During the series, 21,000 people from four military services participated in exercise Desert Rock V. Source: NWD 86-2, p. 15. Shot Harry in this series, a 32-kiloton surface burst, was detonated from a tower on May 19, 1953 and involved 900 troops in trenches 4,000 yards from ground zero. Harry produced fallout problems off the test range that were exacerbated by weather patterns. Source: Philip L. Fradkin; Fallout, an American Nuclear Tragedy; 1989; Tucson; University of Arizona Press; p. 3 and pp. 1024. (hereafter referred to as Fallout)
(86)subjects whose eyes had become adapted to seeing in the dark. These studies were necessary to determine the extent of acute and chronic impairments that might affect personnel flying at night when suddenly blinded by the flash of a nuclear explosion.
(87)Operation Teapot was an atmospheric nuclear weapons test series at the Nevada Test Site, involving 14 shots detonated between February 18 and May 15, 1955. With yields ranging between 1 kiloton and 43 kilotons (U.S. Nuclear Tests), the tests were part of the development of various tactical nuclear weapons. During Operation Teapot, 8,000 Department of Defense personnel participated in troop exercise Desert Rock VI. Source: NWD 86-2, p.16.
(94)a cylinder of sugar (sucrose) weighing about 150 pounds that serves as a surrogate for a human being during calibration of radiological counters. Sugar's molecular makeup (largely carbon, oxygen, and hydrogen) absorbs ionizing radiation almost as effectively as the human body.
(95)Petersen is referring to Los Alamos National Laboratory's participation in the Human Genome Project, a broad-scale program sponsored by the National Institutes of Health to map the location of every gene of all 47 human chromosomes.
(96)The SL-1 (Stationary Low-Power Reactor) was a 3-megawatt prototype military reactor that was being developed at the National Reactor Test Site in Idaho Falls, Idaho, as a power source for remote bases. On January 3, 1961, while a military crew of three was reconnecting control rods for a scheduled restart of the reactor, a steam explosion occurred that killed all three crew members. These were the first deaths caused by such a reactor accident in the United States. For an extended discussion of the SL-1 reactor accident, see "Fatal Worker Accident at Idaho's SL-1 Reactor (1961)" in DOE/EH-0454, Remembering the Early Years: Interview With Dr. George Voelz, M.D. (May 1995). For a discussion of the recovery of the bodies, see "Investigations of Radiological Accidents" in the Lushbaugh transcript (DOE/EH-0453).
(110)founder of Packard Instruments, which used LANL's unpatented developments in scintillation spectrometry to develop a successful commercial line of well counters. Using a well counter, a researcher could simple place a tissue sample into the well counter, and the radiation rate would be counted automatically.
(116)a series of eight nuclear weapons tests at the Nevada Test Site detonated between April 1, 1952, and June 5, 1952. Four were airdropped; the other four were tower shots. Yields ranged between 1 kiloton and 31 kilotons (U.S. Nuclear Tests). During the series, 10,600 troops were present to participate in Exercise Desert Rock IV. Tumbler is reported to have been designed to collect data on the effect of height of burst on blast overpressure; Snapper is reported to have tested potential warhead designs and techniques to be used in the Ivy series conducted in the Pacific between October and November 1952. Source: NWD 86-2, p. 14. Shot Easy in the series is reported to have produced fallout incidents as far away as Salt Lake City, resulting in a letter of protest from the Governor of Utah to the Chairman of the AEC. Source: Fallout, p. 101.
(120)Normal atmospheric pressurethe pressure exerted by the earth's atmosphere at any given pointis about 14.7 pounds per square inch (psi). In the aftermath of a nuclear blast, this value would rise to about 16.7 psi for hours or days.
(123)a remotely controlled, uranium-235fueled critical assembly reactor operated by Los Alamos Scientific Laboratory. Godiva first went critical in 1967. Source: Directory of Nuclear Research Reactors; STI/PUB/853; International Atomic Energy Agency; 1989; Vienna; p. 456 (hereafter referred to as IAEA).
(124)a research and development program initiated by the AEC and the U.S. Air Force in 1957 to develop nuclear rocket propulsion. The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) replaced the Air Force as cosponsor in 1960. AEC had responsibility for the nuclear aspects of the program. AEC work was assigned to Los Alamos Scientific Laboratory and Lawrence Radiation Laboratory; field experimentation was conducted at Jackass Flats, Nevada. The Kiwi series of experimental reactors was part of Project Rover. The relatively long development lead time associated with nuclear rocket propulsion caused the program to lose funding priority to chemical rockets in the 1960s. Source: Linda Neuman Ezell, NASA Historical Data Book, Vol. II: Programs and Projects 19581988; National Aeronautics and Space Administration; Washington, DC; 1988; p. 473 (hereafter referred to as NASA).
(125)a series of reactor experiments related to development of a direct-cycle nuclear rocket engine for propelling space vehicles. A Kiwi reactor went critical in 1965 and thereafter was shut down (IAEA, p. 788). While the program struggled on with developmental problems, most of the funding was cut in 1963. For a detailed history, see NASA, pp. 47688.
(132)For the transcript of the December 20, 1994 interview with Gofman, see DOE/EH-0457, Human Radiation Studies: Remembering the Early Years; Oral History of Dr. John W. Gofman, M.D. (June 1995).
(133)Tamplin worked with Gofman in the Biomedical Department of Lawrence Livermore Laboratory, where he gathered international literature on the effects of nuclear fallout on animals and humans. Tamplin's close work with Gofman and involvement with the human radiation research community are discussed throughout the Gofman transcript.
(134)For a summary of these experiments and a list of references, see "LANL-12, Gastrointestinal Passage of Radioactive Particles Containing Manganese-54 and Uranium-235" in Human Radiation Experiments Associated with the U.S. Department of Energy and Its Predecessors (213 pages), DOE/EH-0491, July 1995.
(136)For the transcript of the November, 11, 1994 interview with Durbin, see DOE/EH-0458, Human Radiation Studies: Remembering the Early Years; Oral History of Dr. Patricia Wallace Durbin, Ph.D. (June 1995).
(137)a highly communicable, potentially fatal disease that in humans is manifested primarily in the lungs. Known as the "white death" and more commonly as "TB," tuberculosis was common in the United States and once was treatable only with bed rest, extending from months to years, and surgery. Hence the need for sanatoriums that could be found throughout the country. New drugs gradually transformed treatment of TB to an outpatient basis. Tuberculosis had been brought progressively under control in the United States until the late 1980s early 1990s. Then, drug-resistant strains of tuberculosis began to emerge, in part because, during the 1980s, Federal funding was withheld for continued research and development of new TB drug treatments and for subsidy of early treatment of TB for the poor with drugs. As of 1995, the reemergence of tuberculosis has advanced to the point that some authorities have proposed reestablishing TB sanatoriums.