Radiation and Fallout

Physics of Nuclear Weapon Effects

Thermal radiation and blast are characteristic consequences of all nuclear weapons regardless of the design. The release of ionizing radiation depends on how the weapon was constructed and so is very dependent on weapon design and type.
Sequence of events (pdf)

I. A fireball starts to form in less than a millionth of a second after a nuclear explosion. The temperature of the fireball is tens of millions of degrees. There is transformation of all matter within the fireball into gas or plasma. As the fireball expands, it radiates part of its energy away as thermal radiation and part of the energy as a shock or blast wave. Xrays are also produced and absorbed by the surrounding atmosphere. After one minute, the fireball is cooled. The formation of the fireball triggers the destructive effects of a nuclear explosion.


II. During expansion of the fireball, vaporized matter condenses to a cloud containing solid particles of weapon debris. The fireball becomes doughnut-shaped. There is violent circulatory motion within the fireball. Air is entrained from the bottom and a mushroom cloud forms as dirt and debris are sucked up from the earth’s surface. This process creates radioactive fallout.


III. A pressure wave develops immediately after the explosion and moves outward from the fireball. The wave may be reflected from surfaces especially in a low-altitude explosion and both waves merge to form a Mach wave. Thermal radiation is reemitted from the fireball and is referred to as secondary thermal radiation. The duration of the thermal radiation is 10 seconds for 1 megaton explosion (99% of total thermal energy).

IV. Initial or prompt radiation is released in the first minute of the explosion. It consists mostly of neutrons and gamma radiation (produced directly from the explosion or as fission products). After this initial radiation, there is delayed radiation or fallout. The origin of this is the material lifted into the fireball after the explosion mixed with the radioactive residues of the weapon (activated debris, fission products etc ). There are two types of fallout – early and late. The impact of these two types of fallout depends on weather conditions and the altitude of detonation.

Medical effects of nuclear explosion

In a report from the Department of Defense called “Special Medical Effects of Nuclear Weapons” (REF=http://www.brooksidepress.org/Products/OperationalMedicine/DATA/operationalmed/Manuals/NATOEWS/ch07/07SpecMedEffectsNW.html), a physician gives a description of injuries that result from a nuclear explosion.

The main effects of nuclear weapons are:
1) Thermal burns
2) Blast injuries
3) Radiation injuries.

Thermal injuries

Extremely high temperatures are produced in a fireball of a nuclear explosion and cause thermal burns. The thermal radiation lasts from a tenth of a second to several seconds depending on bomb yield. Its intensity can exceed 1000 watts/cm^2 (the maximum intensity of sunlight is 0.14). The effect produced can be similar to that of direct exposure to the flame of an acetylene torch. (REF=archive) (..) Because radiation energy can travel at the speed of light, thermal burns can occur at great distances. In a nuclear event, thermal injuries will comprise a large fraction of the patient load. These burns are called flash burns.


Convenient scaling laws to allow calculation of burn effects for any yield are:
r_thermal_1st = Y^0.38 * 1.20
r_thermal_2nd = Y^0.40 * 0.87
r_thermal_3rd = Y^0.41 * 0.67
Range is in km, yield is in kt; the equations are accurate to within 10% or so from 1 kt to 20 Mt.

(r_thermal_1st refers to the range in km of first degree burns)

(Thermal effects vary as the square root of the yield. The bomb dropped on Hiroshima was 15 kt (equivalent to 15,000,000 kg of TNT) and the one on Nagasaki was 21 kt (21,000,000 kg of TNT using metric tons). In comparison the ones detonated in the WTC towers were only less than 1 kt each and probably closer to 0.5 kt (500,000 kg of TNT or 0.3% of the yield of the Hiroshima bomb).)

If data on the frequency of the three different types of burns and their location from Ground Zero is obtained and averages of distance are calculated for each type of burn by putting the information into the equations above, we can use the results to perform a rough calculation of the yields of the bombs. However, because the nuclear bombs in the Twin Towers were detonated within the walls of the buildings themselves, shielding is a significant factor in their nuclear detonation. Read about how shielding has a protective effect here (LINK). Bomb shelters use the principle of shielding. (REF) An account is given in the records of how a child who was in an air-raid shelter at the time of detonation survived, when many others in the same area, which was close to the hypocenter (the location directly under the point of detonation), perished. (REF=http://www.gensuikin.org/english/photo.html)

Around the Matsuyama-cho intersection which is close to the hypocenter, victims were burned to death in their last gesture grasping at the air or trying to escape. Everything that burns was burnt. Roof tiles were crushed into small pieces and scattered all over, air-raid shelters and street cars were burned and ruined. All tell the miserable story without words.

In the Record of the Nagasaki A-bomb War Disaster, the situation in Matsuyama township is described as follows:

“A huge fireball formed in the sky. Directly beneath it is Matsuyama township. Together with the flash came the heat rays and blast, which instantly destroyed everything on earth, and those in the area fell unconscious and were crushed to death. Then they were blown up in the air and hurled back to the ground. The roaring flames burned those caught under the structures who were crying or groaning for help.

When the fire burnt itself out, there appeared a completely changed, vast, colorless world that made you think it was the end of life on earth. In a heap of ashes lay the debris of the disaster and charred trees, presenting a gruesome scene. The whole city became extinct. Citizens who were in Matsuyama township, the hypocenter, were all killed instantly, excepting a child who was in an air-raid shelter.” (REF=http://www.gensuikin.org/english/photo.html)

Matsuyama township – the hypocenter of the Nagasaki bomb – note the charred corpses on the ground. A child who sheltered in the air-raid shelter survived. (REF=http://www.gensuikin.org/english/photo.html)

Therefore, using these formulae to calculate yield will underestimate the yield of the bombs used to demolish the Twin Towers. Beta believes the bombs used had yields of less than 1 kt each (around 0.5 kt each). (1 kt is equivalent to 1,000,000 kg of TNT.)

The clinical picture in such a case where the low-yield nuclear bomb is shielded by the building within which it is detonated is predicated to be one of dual contrasting realities: the mortality rate of those within the building and within a certain radius would be close to 100% with very few exceptions (the “Stairway Survivors” lived because they were thrown clear of the building by a sub-basement non-nuclear explosion and became buried under rubble which shielded them from the effects of the nuclear bomb that detonated a short time after); of those people outside this radius who sustain burns from thermal radiation, their survival rate would be relatively high. There seems to be a clear-cut demarcation of injuries with not many shades of gray in between. And this duality is indeed reflected in the hospital records. (LINK=http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm5101a1.htm. Rapid Assessment of Injuries Among Survivors of the Terrorist Attack on the World Trade Center)

Closer to the fireball, that is, within the confines of the towers’ walls, the thermal output of the nuclear explosions would have been of such a great magnitude that all people and objects would have been incinerated in less than a few seconds, leading to the paucity of recoverable body parts.

(Hiroshima:) ‘Those closest to the explosion died instantly, their bodies turned to black char. Nearby birds burst into flames in mid-air, and dry, combustible materials such as paper instantly ignited as far away as 6,400 feet from ground zero.’….. The white light acted as a giant flashbulb, burning the dark patterns of clothing onto skin (right) and the shadows of bodies onto walls. Survivors outdoors close to the blast generally describe a literally blinding light combined with a sudden and overwhelming wave of heat. (The effects of radiation are usually not immediately apparent.) …. (Those) farther from the point of detonation experienced first the flash and heat, followed seconds later by a deafening boom and the blast wave. Nearly every structure within one mile of ground zero was destroyed, and almost every building within three miles was damaged. Less than 10 percent of the buildings in the city survived without any damage, and the blast wave shattered glass in suburbs twelve miles away. (REF=http://www.mbe.doe.gov/me70/manhattan/hiroshima.htm)


This boy, who was burned to death with his hands placed on his chest, leaving an impression of agony, is believed to have been a mobilized student exposed to the A-bomb in Iwakana township, which is about 700 meters from the hypocenter (of the Nagasaki bomb). (REF=http://www.gensuikin.org/english/photo.html)

“Regarding the disaster in Iwakawa township where this student was burned to death, the record of the Nagasaki A-bomb War Disaster reads as follows:

The instant the A-bomb exploded, almost all of the houses collapsed. The scattered pieces of wood and other debris covered the ground, and in some places they were heaped into drifts. Those who were outdoors all died, and those who were caught under the collapsed houses were screaming for help, and those who barely escaped frantically ran around. The town got dark, and, when visibility was regained, the collapsed houses started to smolder and then took fire. While there were mixed outcries of calls and for help, the town turned into a sea of flames.” (REF=http://www.gensuikin.org/english/photo.html. Photographs of Hiroshima and Nagasaki (Gensuikin))

The fireball incinerated all matter within it. Two-thirds of the Twin Towers was reduced to dust (REF) due to blast and thermal effects. Around one thousand people have not been identified as yet. (REF) There are no viable body parts such as a fingernail, a bone fragment or a tooth to do a DNA analysis on the missing people. (REF)

Like the people at the hypocenter of the Hiroshima detonation, these people at the hypocenter of the WTC detonations simply vanished.

(The heat (infrared radiation) is absorbed by the opaque surface layer of the material on which it falls. Dark materials absorb heat better than light-colored ones. Surface temperatures can exceed 1000 degress close to the fireball.

Emission of thermal radiation is complete by the time the shock wave arrives (within a few seconds of detonation).


(In a nuclear detonation, a person can be burned by three processes:

  • Thermal burns from infrared heat radiation.
  • Beta burns from shallow ionizing radiation.
  • Gamma burns from highly penetrating radiation.

In the picture below, it is unlikely that the pattern of burns was produced by gamma radiation as this usually causes burns in a uniform manner. Beta burns would be all over the body as it is in contact with fallout in the atmosphere, but thermal burns are often on one side of the body as heat radiation doesn’t penetrate the human body. The pattern of burn on the woman’s body is due to the fact that light-colored fabric reflects infra-red light more than dark fabric. The skin underneath the dark fabric was burnt more than the skin covered by the white-colored fabric.


Woman with the pattern of the kimono burnt onto her skin

(Hiroshima:) “Then 8:15 am struck on the clock, and the sky over Hiroshima became illuminated with a flash brighter and more powerful than the sun. A wave of heat swept through the city and back again. The beautiful day, in an instant, became a nightmare. Any object within a two kilometer distance from the hypocenter suffered significant burn damage, and those located near the hypocenter were instantaneously vaporized. The Shima hospital, the hypocenter of the atomic bomb was vaporized, along with all her patients.” (REF=http://users.dickinson.edu/%7Ehistory/product/steele/seniorthesis.htm)

This is similar to the WTC attacks. People instantly “vaporized”. There are reports of people running from Ground Zero looking behind them at the WTC and seeing people disappearing before their eyes. (REF)

In some cases, “vanished” people left their shadows behind. This would be the only reminder that they had once existed. The intense light acted like a flashbulb and burned a shadow onto the walls. (REF=http://www.icpj.net/dwg/shadow.htm)

Shadow left by a person on a wall.

The museum has this section of a bank wall and steps which shows one of these shadows. The circular grey patch on the steps is a shadow formed by a woman who was sitting there waiting for the bank to open for business. (REF=http://www.richard-seaman.com/Travel/Japan/Hiroshima/AtomicBombMuseum/IndividualArtifacts/index.html. Hiroshima Atomic Bomb Museum. )

An earlier photo showing the outline of the woman on the steps of the bank more clearly.

(Nagasaki:) “After finishing his shift at the factory, Akio Sakita returned home and went to his backyard to do the washing. He heard the drone of airplanes above, but since the air raid alarm had been called off, he assumed that the planes he saw were Japanese planes out on surveillance runs. At that moment, he heard a loud roar in the sky, and as he looked up, “wondering if it had in fact been the enemy,” (he reports) “a blinding flash of light filled the sky and my body was showered in a wave of intense heat. I felt a searing pain in my face and threw myself on to the ground with my eyes firmly shut. The rush of heat continued for several seconds. It was like a glimpse into the horror of hell. . . . I had suffered terrible burns all over the upper half of my body.”(REF=http://users.dickinson.edu/%7Ehistory/product/steele/seniorthesis.htm)

Caption: A burn victim of the Hiroshima attack–badly burned but still alive (REF=http://www.richard-seaman.com/Travel/Japan/Hiroshima/AtomicBombMuseum/IndividualArtifacts/index.html. Hiroshima Atomic Bomb Museum. )


Caption: Another burn victim who managed to survive despite severe burns (REF=http://www.richard-seaman.com/Travel/Japan/Hiroshima/AtomicBombMuseum/IndividualArtifacts/index.html. Hiroshima Atomic Bomb Museum. )

{Original image URL: http://s182.photobucket.com/albums/x164/album8932/d6af0885.jpg was banned. Therefore uploaded using WordPress.com}

(Nagasaki:) ‘Mr. Sumiteru Taniguchi was a sixteen year old postal carrier at the time of the bomb. He was delivering mail on his normal route in Sumiyoshi town when the atomic bomb exploded. “After the sky flashed as lighting I was thrown with a bicycle on the ground when I came to around my skin on the left arm peeled off and hung down to fingertip, my back and hips were burned and became sore and clothes nearly didn’t remain. . . . I wandered some first-aid stations and finally I was sent to the navy hospital of Omura in November. My half burnt body became rotten discharge and it flowed on the bed I cried ‘Kill Me!’ over and over again.”‘

Thermal radiation does not penetrate through the human body, and therefore the burned parts of the body were the parts exposed to thermal radiation. This is similar to the situation of the toasted cars in the WTC attacks: often only the exposed side of the car was burned with the unexposed side completely unaffected.

Caption: Flash burn victim. The part that was covered by the shoulder strap of a bag was left unburnt. Heavy keloids showing in the arms. (REF=http://www.gensuikin.org/english/photo.html. Photographs of Hiroshima and Nagasaki (Gensuikin))


This boy had thermal burns on more than one-third of his body, and his chest and the left side of his belly were seriously injured. (REF=http://www.gensuikin.org/english/photo.html. Photographs of Hiroshima and Nagasaki (Gensuikin))

“The moment of face, I was blinded by the flash and thrown 3 meters away by the blast that came from my rear left, and my bicycle was twisted and bent.”

The flash burns these people above received in the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings are very characteristic of nuclear explosions.

World Trade Center

This firefighter describes his experience of coming onto Ground Zero soon after the attacks. The only human body he found intact was charred, burned beyond recognition.

Walcott was also experiencing the noxious effects of the chemical brew …. He waded though mounds of pulverized dust, knee-deep, tasting it on his lips, spitting it out of his mouth …. he focused on the mission at hand, on the faint hope of discovering survivors. That day, he stepped over the only human body that he would find intact—a female, burned beyond recognition, a charred bra over her face. (REF=http://www.villagevoice.com/news/0648,lombardi,75156,2.html)

Patricia Ondrovic , an emergency medical technician and recovery worker, was close to the WTC complex when the South Tower started to fall. She reports that everything became covered in black and gray smoke almost straight after the towers collapsed. Massive incineration by powerful nuclear bombs produced the black and gray smoke that covered much of lower Manhattan immediately after the collapses of the towers.

There was a continual loud rumbling, there was just debris flying from every direction and then everything being covered in the black and gray smoke.

Assessment of injuries of WTC survivors

(REF= http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm5101a1.htm. Rapid Assessment of Injuries Among Survivors of the Terrorist Attack on the World Trade Center (2002))

Out of 790 injured survivors:

– most injuries were inhalation (49%) or eye injuries (26%)

– 18% were hospitalized

– among survivors hospitalized with injuries, 52 (37%) sustained inhalation injuries and 27 (19%) sustained burns

– the injury pattern of rescue workers differed from the injury pattern of other survivors (see table below)

– a significantly higher percentage of rescue workers sustained ocular injuries (39% versus 19%; p<0.0001), and a significantly lower percentage of rescue workers sustained burns (2% versus 6%; p<0.01).


REF= http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm5101a1.htm. Rapid Assessment of Injuries Among Survivors of the Terrorist Attack on the World Trade Center (2002)

See this page (link) for incendiary effects of nuclear explosion at the towers.

Blast Injuries

In the immediate aftermath of a nuclear explosion there is rapid release of energy in the form of a shock wave. This is the overpressure; it is the pressure over and above atmospheric pressure. It is measured in atmospheres (atm) or pounds per square inch (psi). Very close to the center of a nuclear explosion, overpressure is equivalent to several thousands pounds per square inch. (REF=http://www.nuclearfiles.org/menu/key-issues/nuclear-weapons/basics/weapons-basics.htm. NuclearFiles.org)

In the Record of the Nagasaki A-bomb War Disaster, the situation in Matsuyama township is described as follows:

“A huge fireball formed in the sky. Directly beneath it is Matsuyama township. Together with the flash came the heat rays and blast, which instantly destroyed everything on earth, and those in the area fell unconscious and were crushed to death. Then they were blown up in the air and hurled back to the ground.” (REF=REF=http://www.gensuikin.org/english/photo.html, Photos of Hiroshima and Nagasaki)

The overpressure crushes objects. The human lung is crushed at 30 psi overpressure. Brick houses will be destroyed at 10-15 psi. The blast generates high speed winds which can turn humans or objects into missiles. Winds created at 15-20 psi overpressure can throw a person at several hundred kilometers per hour. (REF=http://www.nuclearfiles.org/menu/key-issues/nuclear-weapons/basics/weapons-basics.htm. NuclearFiles.org)

There two types of blast forces: 1) direct blast wave overpressure forces and 2) blast wind drag forces occur – almost simultaneously. Out of the two, blast wind drag forces are the more important type medically. (REF = http://www.fas.org/nuke/guide/usa/doctrine/dod/fm8-9/1ch4.htm)

Direct overpressures do not extend as far from the center and are masked by blast wind drag forces. However they are significant causes of deaths and injuries close to the point of detonation.

Direct Blast Injury

Generally, city areas are destroyed by overpressures of 5 psi (pounds per square inch). Humans are quite resistant to the direct effect of overpressure compared to buildings; overpressures of 40+ psi are lethal. The danger from overpressure for people who survive the initial blast is from buildings collapsing on people. The violent implosion of windows and walls from overpressure can create a hail of deadly missiles that may injure and kill. (fas)

Overall, other effects such as thermal injuries and indirect blast effects (wind drag forces) are so severe at ranges associated with overpressures that pose a danger to humans that few patients with direct blast injuries will survive them and present for treatment. (fas)

“..the direct blast is not considered a primary cause of (survivable) injury because those close enough to suffer serious injury from the direct blast will probably die as a result of initial thermal radiation, or they will be crushed to death. The greatest number of blast injuries are received as an indirect result of the blast from falling buildings, flying objects, and shattered glass.” (REF: “U.S. Air Force Survival Handbook” By United States Air Force)

Eardrum damage

A significant number of recovery workers from the WTC attacks reported hearing problems. {Refer to chart of injuries of PBA}

Indirect Blast Wind Drag Forces

Blast winds form in nuclear detonations. They result from violent shifting of large masses of air caused by overpressures. These blast winds have velocities that can reach several hundred kilometers per hour and can be stronger than hurricane-force winds. Although they last only a few seconds, they create huge drag forces and tend to produce a large number of lower-velocity flying missiles, which can cause injury. A high proportion of blast trauma cases are caused by these missiles. Many Japanese at Nagasaki and Hiroshima sustained dozens of superficial lacerations caused by flying glass and other debris. (Special Medical Effects (REF=http://www.brooksidepress.org/Products/OperationalMedicine/DATA/operationalmed/Manuals/NATOEWS/ch07/07SpecMedEffectsNW.html)

Caption: Glass shard embedded in wall (Hiroshima Atomic Bomb Museum)

“People with gruesome wounds were filing into the shelter one after another. They were horribly burned, covered with glass splinters like pin cushions” (REF=America’s reaction)

Blast winds are winds which are usually of short duration but are extremely severe. The drag forces of the winds vary in relation to the velocities and duration of those winds, which in turn are proportional to the yield of the weapon, the distance from the point of detonation and the altitude of burst.


The equation below provides approximate scaling laws for relating the destructive radius of blast effect with yield:

r_blast = Y^0.33 * constant_bl

(If Y is in multiples (or fractions) of 2.5 kt, then the result is in km (and all the constants equal one). This is based on thermal radiation just sufficient to cause 3rd degree burns (8 calories/cm^2); a 4.6 psi blast overpressure (and optimum burst height); and a 500 rem radiation dose.)

Since the yield of the WTC nuclear bombs is postulated by Beta to be less than 1 kt each (less than 1,000,000 kg of TNT equivalent), and closer to 0.5 kt, the radius of blast effect will be much smaller than the radius of blast effect of much higher-yield bombs such as the Nagasaki (21 kt) and Hiroshima (15 kt) bombs.

In addition, the blast effects of the WTC bombs were attenuated by shielding as the concrete walls of the WTC towers encased the bombs. Because the equation above does not take into account the shielding effects, the yield of the bombs will be underestimated by the equation. However, there is evidence to show that the intensity of the blast within this ‘encasing’ was extremely high; the blast was intense enough to ablate steel, crush steel-reinforced concrete to particles of size 0.02 micron, obliterate furniture and turn humans into dust.


See the link on the energy of the detonation and the size of the dust created (LINK – A Physicist Explains – concrete particle size and size of energy).

The duality of the effects produced by shielding in the case of the WTC attacks is reflected in the clinical picture of the victims of the attacks. There is a clear contrast in the immediate mortality rates of those within the buildings at the time of the collapses and of those who made it outside and received hospital treatment. Nearly all inside the buildings at the time of the explosions perished; the only survivors were the Staircase B survivors and a few individual fire fighters who sheltered under trucks. The mortality rate of those who received hospital treatment is low: four people (or 0.4% of the total who received hospital treatment) died in emergency care. (REF=http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm5101a1.htm. Rapid Assessment of Injuries Among Survivors of the Terrorist Attack on the World Trade Center)

The difference in effects experienced by those in different locations shows the importance of the shielding effect. The completeness of destruction of the bodies of those caught within the towers at the time of the explosions shows how destructive the explosions were. Directly at the hypocenter of nuclear detonation, the fireball will vaporize bodies. Many people left no identifiable remains at all.

“The number of people believed to have been killed in the World Trade Center attack hovers around 2,780, three years after the attack. No trace has been identified for about half the victims, despite the use of advanced DNA techniques to identify individuals. Six weeks after the attack only 425 people had been identified. A year after the attack, only half of the victims had been identified. 19,906 remains were recovered from Ground Zero, 4,735 of which were identified. Up to 200 remains were linked to a single person. Of the 1,401 people identified, 673 of the IDs were based on DNA alone. Only 293 intact bodies were found. Only twelve could be identified by sight.” (REF=http://911research.wtc7.net/wtc/evidence/bodies.html.
Missing Bodies More Than 1000 Bodies Are Unaccounted for)

Most survivors of the WTC incident sustained injuries that were treated on an outpatient basis indicating that most did not have severe injuries. The hospital admission rate (20%) was similar to that of the survivors of the Alfred P. Murray Federal Building bombing in Oklahoma City (another bombing event).

One report states that: “Injuries were common (43.6%), but few survivors reported injuries that would have required extensive treatment.” (http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/ss5502a1.htm. Surveillance for World Trade Center Disaster Health Effects Among Survivors of Collapsed and Damaged Buildings)

If the bombs had been detonated outside the confines of the towers, the overall clinical picture of those in the field of attack would have been very different. There would have been a much higher rate of mortality and morbidity of those who had survived the initial explosion. But the perpetrators had to hide the fact that the destruction was nuclear in nature as much as they could, and therefore they could not risk a wider radius of injury effects. Causing a spectacular destruction of the Twin Towers (achieved with nuclear bombs) with the resulting psychological impact it would produce in their intended audience was the main aim of the attackers. Maximizing casualties was a secondary aim. More casualties could have resulted from air detonations and from using higher bomb-yields, but the illusion of plane crashes causing the destruction would not have been achieved. (In contrast to the WTC attacks which were surface bursts, air bursts were performed in Hiroshima and Nagasaki to maximize death and destruction (REF=http://www.nukefix.org/weapon.html. Nukefix – Blast Effects).

The demolitions could have been performed with the use of purely conventional ordnance. However, one advantage of nuclear bombs is that they are smaller and lighter than for a given yield than conventional bombs and therefore are more easily transported and hidden.

Probability of Indirect Blast Injury

The distance from the point of detonation at which indirect blast injury will occur is greater than that for equally serious direct blast injury. It is difficult to give precise ranges due to the variations in the environment of the blast but a reasonable inference is that at the distance where peak overpressure is 20.3 kPa (0.2 atm), the rate of serious indirect injuries will be high.

Missile Injury

The probability of injury from a missile depends upon the number of missiles and the kinetic energy and shape of missiles. The number of missiles depends on the environment to a certain extent. Desert terrains tend to create a large number of missiles. However in other environments, trees and other vegetation are liable to be uprooted, and fragmented into a variety of missiles by the drag forces of the blast winds of a nuclear detonation.

Caption: 300-Year-Old Camphor Tree Uprooted By The Blast (REF=http://www.gensuikin.org/english/photo.html)

“In the precincts of the Kokutaiji Temple, the big camphor tree, said to be over 300 years old was designated as a natural monument. Its branches and thick leaves provided a place of comfort for the passers-by during summertime. Its roots spread out in all directions for 300 meters, and the street car lines shown on the left in the photograph had to avoid the tree, which formed an archway over the sidewalk. By a blast pressure of 19 tons per square meter, the tree was uprooted.” (REF=http://www.gensuikin.org/english/photo.html)

Hence large numbers and a great variety of objects acting as missiles can be generated in any environment. Mutliple varied missiles are common.

“Even the concrete buildings left standing were reduced to hollow shells. The buildings collapsed in one direction as if pointing toward the hypocenter (probably the effects of negative pressure). The blast wind slapped people against walls and showered them with a torrent of bullet-like glass splinters and debris.” (REF=http://www1.city.nagasaki.nagasaki.jp/peace/english/record/photo/part_2_07.html. Records of the Nagasaki Bombing)

The drag forces of blast winds can be strong enough to displace large objects such as vehicles, and cause the collapse of buildings. Such events can cause serious crush injuries. Humans themselves can become missiles and be displaced by the drag forces. The resulting injuries are termed translational injuries.

World Trade Center:

Patricia Ondrovic was an emergency medical technician who was called to duty to work at the World Trade Center. She parked her ambulance in front of Six World Trade Center (the Customs House). Shortly after she commenced work evacuating the injured from buildings, she was told by an officer to get ready to evacuate the area. This was a few minutes before the South Tower fell. The South Tower fell before the North Tower.

From an interview: (REF=http://killtown.blogspot.com/2006/02/911-rescuer-saw-explosions-inside-wtc.html)

Patricia Ondrovic: … (W)e were staged waiting for the triage teams to bring us patients when an officer in a white shirt and blue pants (don’t know from what agency) said that there was a radio transmission that stated, “Another plane was headed towards us!” We were told to get to our vehicles and get ready to move fast, but it wasn’t fast enough. All of a sudden there was a lot of activity within the several agencies there and everyone started to scramble to ready their respective vehicles.

Killtown: When you were told another aircraft was approaching, was this right before the South Tower collapsed?

Patricia Ondrovic: Maybe 3 to 5 minutes prior. I don’t know if that estimation is correct, but I remember we all had time to take a minute and look into the skies all around to see if we could see anything.

Killtown: Did you see any planes in the sky?

Patricia Ondrovic: No, there was nothing in the skies at that time.

As she ran west to the Hudson River along Vesey Street after the first building collapsed, she ran past parked cars that suddenly caught fire. A door came loose from one of these vehicles and started flying toward her and struck her. Note the distance of the parked cars from the South Tower. The drag forces of the blast winds that were produced by the detonation of the South Tower ripped the door from a car parked outside the WTC 6 on Vesey Street and turned it into a missile. See Vesey Street and the WTC 2 on the map.

Map source

Patricia Ondrovic: … (T)here was a loud “roar” — lots of crashing sounds. I was attempting to put my stretcher back into the vehicle. The ground was shaking and I saw a sea of people, mostly the various agencies on scene, fire, police, EMS, all running towards me. I had no idea what they were running from, but I decided I’d be ahead of them and just started running west towards the river. As I was running, parked cars were blowing up and some were on fire, the street was cracking a bit as well. Very shortly after I started running, everything became one big black cloud. I was near the West Side Highway and I couldn’t see around me anymore.

Killtown: Can you estimate how many vehicles blew up around you?

Patricia Ondrovic: At least three and some were on fire as I was running by. I was still on the south side of Vesey running west. The burning cars were between my ambulance and about the middle of the 6 World Trade where the lobby doors were at.

Patricia Ondrovic: I remember parts flying off — I think I got hit with a car door. I remember they were also on fire ….. there was a loud bang as the door flew off the one car I was running past.

This table is from the report “Rapid Assessment of Injuries Among Survivors of the Terrorist Attack on the World Trade Center” by the CDC. Inhalation injuries top the list followed by ocular injuries. Lacerations and sprain and strain injuries are next. Contusions are the next most frequent injury followed by fractures. After this are burns, closed head injuries, and crush injuries successively.


REF= http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm5101a1.htm. Rapid Assessment of Injuries Among Survivors of the Terrorist Attack on the World Trade Center (2002)

In the table, we can see non-rescuer survivors suffered a higher percentage of inhalation, laceration, fracture, closed head, burn and crush injuries than rescue workers. Higher percentages of traumatic-type injuries among non-rescuer survivors than among rescue personnel may reflect the fact that a slightly higher proportion of them were close to the towers at the time of their collapses and hence a higher proportion of these survivors were exposed to the blast effects of the nuclear devices than the rescue workers were. The tables show injuries assessed from September 11 to September 13. Some of the injured rescue workers may have commenced work at the World Trade Center site some considerable time (hours) after the immediate effects of the bombs had peaked.

Radiation Injuries

(Below REF=http://nuclearweaponarchive.org/Nwfaq/Nfaq5.html. Weapons Archive, Effects of Nuclear Explosions)

Ionizing radiation physics

A nuclear explosion releases several forms of radiation. Both gamma rays and neutrons easily penetrate solid objects and can be deadly. Beta and alpha particles are generally less dangerous, having much shorter ranges. Beta and alpha particles have ranges of several meters and several centimeters, respectively. Alpha particles cannot penetrate human skin. If ingested, however, alpha particles will cause the most damage to the human body out of the three types of radiation. ((REF=http://www.nuclearfiles.org/menu/key-issues/nuclear-weapons/basics/weapons-basics.htm. NuclearFiles.org, Weapons Basics)

Prompt Radiation

The explosion itself emits a very brief burst of radiation lasting about 100 nanoseconds of gamma rays and neutrons before the bomb blows apart. The intensity of this radiation depends on weapon design and type of bomb. In most bombs, the brief burst of gamma rays is contained within the bomb by absorption (by tamper, casing etc) so they contribute little to the radiation hazard. Neutrons may escape however. Both fission and fusion produce neutrons, but fusion produces more of them relative to yield, and fusion neutrons are more energetic than fission neutrons. Neutron bombs are designed to maximize emission of neutrons. In contrast, few if any neutrons escape from a heavily tamped bomb. It is estimated that no significant neutron exposure occurred from Fat Man. In the World Trade Center bombings, Beta postulates that low-yield thermonuclear bombs were involved, and that there was heavy tamping with boron or similar material, reducing the amount of neutrons released.

Immediately after the explosion, substantial amounts of fission products are generated with very short half-lives (milliseconds to minutes), and the decay of these products correspond to the emission of the intense gamma radiation from the fireball. This whole process is complete after 10 seconds.

These emissions plus the radioactive emissions from left-over unfissioned bomb material and from material in which radioactivity has been induced by neutron capture combine to form radiation that is called “prompt radiation”. The duration of prompt radiation depends on the yield of the bomb and other factors but in general is regarded to last one minute. Any persistent radiation after this period is referred to as delayed radiation.

Delayed radiation

The main source of residual radiation is the residual radioactive material left after a nuclear detonation. In nuclear fission, uranium or plutonium is transformed into a number of about 150 radioisotopes called fission products. These fission products are the most important source of residual radiation. Other less important sources are the small amounts of unfissioned bomb material and the material which has neutron-induced radioactivity. All of these types of materials are found in fallout. (Special)


Fallout is a major contributor to delayed radiation.

Fallout consists of large numbers of particles from the earth, bombed buildings and other objects on the ground which are sucked up in the blast and mixed with the radioactive particles in the explosion, becoming irradiated in the process. Some of this material may fall back to earth in a few minutes. This debris forms the mushroom cloud that is seen in nuclear explosions.

With high-altitude explosions, no early descent of fallout occurs and instead the mushroom cloud rises to a great height, gradually descending over a large area.

The distribution of fallout depends on topography and weather conditions, especially the speed and direction of winds and the occurrence of rainfall.

New York City example. Longterm fallout pattern. (REF=http://www.atomicarchive.com/Example/Example7.shtml. Atomic Archive. Example scenarios.)

A sample scenario of fallout pattern and distribution after a nuclear bomb falls on Manhattan is outlined in this passage.

“A surface explosion will produce much more early fallout than a similarly sized air burst where the fireball never touches the ground. This is because a surface explosion produces radioactive particles from the ground as well as from the weapon. The early fallout will drift back to earth on the prevailing wind, creating an elliptical pattern stretching from ground zero out into Long Island. Because the wind will be relatively light, the fallout will be highly concentrated in the area of Manhattan just to the east of the blast. Predicting levels of radiation is difficult and depends on many factors like bomb size, design, the ground surface and soil type.” (REF=http://www.atomicarchive.com/Example/Example7.shtml. Atomic Archive. Example scenarios.)

Fallout may pose a greater danger of nuclear explosion than direct radiation because the area of exposure to fallout radioactivity is much wider than that of direct radiation.

Radioactive products in fallout remain a danger until they have decayed to the point where they no longer emit significant amounts of radiation. The period of time that elapses until a radioactive product is no longer regarded as emitting dangerous radiation is usually considered to be ten times the half-life of that radioactive product.

Extent of damage:

The extent of damage of fallout depends on the yield of the nuclear weapon, the height of detonation and the terrain. Fallout of weapons detonated at ground level is greater due to the larger amount of ground material propelled into the air and irradiated by the explosion but the effects of thermal radiation and prompt radiation are less than in an air blast.

The nuclear weapon detonated in Hiroshima was about 12-15 kt, the equivalent of 12,000 metric tons of TNT. The combined effects of blast and radiation killed about 300,000 people. Both were air bursts: the Hiroshima bomb was 12.5 kt and an air burst at 1,670 ft; the Nagasaki bomb was 21 kt, an air burst at 1,670 ft (REF= http://www.nukefix.org/weapon.html. Nukefix). The author postulates that the World Trade Center nuclear bombings were surface blasts (or more accurately, a little distance above from the ground) and that each bomb was less than 1 kt in yield.

“The following … clarifies the consequences of an air burst with a 20 Kt weapon (approximately the size used at Nagasaki in 1945). An air burst at a height of 0.43 miles maximizes the area of destruction at 3.5+ psi. If the weapon were detonated at ground level more of the energy would be dissipated into the ground at ground zero, and there would be less destruction in outlying areas.” (REF= http://www.nukefix.org/weapon.html. Nukefix)

Effects of Radiation on Humans

The effects of radiation on humans vary depending on the radiation dose and whether the exposure is protracted and slow or large and instantaneous. Fractionation of the dose, in which a person is intermittently exposed to the radiation instead of continuously exposed, has a protective effect.

Cells that actively divide are the most susceptible to radiation damage. These include cells of hair, intestine, bone marrow and reproductive organs. Radiation to a localized area of the body is the most frequent type of exposure. This leads to disturbed organ functioning. Higher doses cause gangrene and/or necrosis of localized tissues.

A large rapid dose of radiation causes cell death and effects are immediately apparent. When protracted exposure is intermittent, cells can repair themselves and radiation is better tolerated. However radiation doses low enough to avoid overt cell damage can still induce cellular changes that become clinically detectable later.

With radiation from internally deposited radiation (through broken skin, ingestion or inhalation), initial destruction of the irradiated tissue may not be severe. The initiation of cancer is possible though, with these effects appearing after a latent period.

This is a compilation of effects of high-dose radiation (REF=Nuclear Files)

Extremely high doses: 4000-5000 rads

Radiation exposure in this range severely damages the vascular system. It also causes accumulation of fluid in the brain (cerebral edema), leading to central nervous system syndrome. Symptoms include nausea, vomiting, explosive diarrhea, convulsions, and progressive impairment of cognitive and motor skills. A person exposed to this amount of radiation will enter a coma and die within 48 hours.

High doses: 1000-4000 rads

In this range of radiation exposure, vascular damage is less severe, but there is also a loss of fluids and electrolytes in intercellular spaces and the gastrointestinal tract. Death occurs within ten days, due to fluid and electrolyte imbalance, severe bone-marrow damage, and terminal infection.

Moderate doses: 400-1000 rads

Exposure in this range causes a gastrointestinal form of radiation sickness, with symptoms of nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. Radiation in this range also destroys bone marrow and disrupts its production of blood cells, leading to infection as the white blood cells count decreases. There would also be a drop in the number of platelets (cell fragments that help blood to clot), which would allow massive hemorrhaging. Death is probable and will occur in approximately four to five weeks.

Purpura (multiple bleeding points) on the legs. This appearance results from reduced platelets in the blood

Atomic bombing victim with purpura (purplish subcutaneous hemorrhage spots)

The … photograph shows a 21-years-old soldier who was in a wooden house situated one kilometer from the hypocenter. Since he was indoors, he was saved from burns, but as he received cuts on his back, right elbow and right belly, first-aid treatment was given to him. However, when we follow his medical record, we learn more:

August 18 –Hair falling out is noticed; August 19 –Bleeding from gum, and purplish subcutaneous hemorrhage starts to appear as in the photograph; August 30 –Is hospitalized in the Ujina Branch of the Army Hospital, and on the 31st becomes feverish; September 1 –Tonsillitis occurs and with a sore throat he can not eat. Bleeding from gum does not stop, and subcutaneous hemorrhage multiplies on face and upper half of body: September 2 –Has an indistinct consciousness and starts to talk in delirium. September 3 –Died at 9:30 p.m.

This photograph was taken 2 hours before his death at the request of an American Army surgeon. This soldier’s symptom record is a typical description of the acute effects of radiation. (REF=http://www.gensuikin.org/english/photo.html. Photographs of Hiroshima and Nagasaki (Gensuikin))

Low Doses: 100-400 rads

Low doses of radiation cause problems similar to those of moderate exposure. Nausea, vomiting and diarrhea symptoms cease after a few days. Treatment for radiation exposure in this range can be effective, but death is still a possibility.

Acute Radiation Syndrome (see Extremely High Doses and High Doses above)

Acute radiation syndrome is sickness caused by irradiation of most or all of the body, whether in one large dose or through exposure over time (although it is impossible to measure the amount of radiation a person has accumulated over an extended period of time). Symptoms will be more immediately apparent in the case of a large dose in a short period. Encompassing the most severe effects of radiation exposure, acute radiation syndrome requires immediate medical attention. Without medical treatment, survival is highly unlikely.

Initially patients experience fatigue, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea for a day or two. If the dose of radiation is very high, there may also be symptoms such as fever and respiratory problems. Symptoms then disappear for several days to several weeks, after which the illness becomes severe.

Radiation inhibits reproduction of blood cells, leading to bleeding and anemia as the number of red blood cells decreases, and inability for wounds to heal as blood clotting factors are lost. A decreased white blood cell count hinders the body’s immune system and leads to more infetions.

There may also be a loss of fluids, electrolytes, and intestinal lining. In more serious cases, accumulation of fluid in the brain can lead to central nervous system syndrome, with symptoms of nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.

Other symptoms may include temporary sterility in males, clouding in the lens of the eye, and loss of hair. Hair loss occurs because damage to hair-root cells causes hairs to become thinner and break off.

In practice, radiation effects like bone marrow depression are not recognized upon admission since this does not become clinically evident until after 2-6 weeks after irradiation. Patients showing a reduced white blood cell count on presentation soon after injury will experience high morbidity and mortality rate, primarily due to infection. They should not be subject to surgery unless it is to save life. If there is no evidence of bone marrow recovery, these patients will usually not survive.

Non-reporting of radiation injuries in the WTC attacks

In the World Trade Center nuclear detonations, it is likely that radiation injuries were not recognized for several reasons:

1) Those close enough to the explosion to experience high-dose radiation injuries sustained lethal thermal and blast injuries as well. Radiation as a cause was probably overlooked.

2) Those outside a certain radius from the point of detonation were shielded from the effects of prompt radiation by the walls of the tower. In other words, the walls of the tower contained the nuclear explosion to a certain extent, acting as a barrier. Outside these walls, the radiation from prompt radiation dropped off sharply. Within the walls, radiation exposure was probably lethal as it was for the workers caught on-site in the Chernobyl nuclear explosion. It is as if the walls of the towers acted like the walls of a bomb-shelter, shielding the people outside the walls. There is duality of health effects of radiation exposure as there is with blast and thermal injuries. A high percentage of the World Trade Center attack survivors did not expire from their injuries while they were being treated in hospital. There were hardly any people who were extricated from the rubble alive. There were reports of people close to the towers at the time of detonation simply vanishing. They were vaporized by the nuclear bombs. The missing body parts of a thousand people who were in the towers at the time of their collapses attest to the powerfully destructive effects of the nuclear bombs in the towers.

3) Effects of radiation injury such as bone marrow depression are not immediately apparent clinically. It takes 2-6 weeks for blood tests to show a drop in white cell count. Manifestations of impaired immunity such as infection may be attributed to the overall debility of the patient’s condition caused by blast or burn injuries and not to the effects of irradiation .

4) A patient who was close enough to sustain radiation injuries from the blast and survived from them would have been close enough to sustain severe burn and blast injuries. Such injuries are more readily diagnosed as being caused by blast and burns since these sorts of injuries are much more common, and radiation as a cause can easily be overlooked. There is considerable overlap of the clinical presentations of blast and burns victims and that of radiation victims, resulting in under-diagnosing of radiation victims.

5) In the immediate aftermath of the attacks, it is possible that authorities in general did not suspect a nuclear attack. Therefore, they did not perform the testing that would have revealed high levels of radiation levels soon after the attacks. The USGS (US Geological Survey) did not do proper direct testing and surveys for radiation after the attacks. Interestingly however, a radiation survey by the GAO that was conducted five years after the 9/11 attacks, showed many unexplained radiation hot spots in Manhattan as well as in the Fresh Kills landfill where much of the debris was taken to. Because clinicians were not alerted to the possibility of the attacks being nuclear in nature, they did not do tests that would have revealed irradiation as a cause of injury.

6) Warnings were given that buildings within the World Trade Center were going to collapse. It is not known who originated the warnings. There are documented warnings for the collapses of 2 World Trade Center (the South Tower) and 7 World Trade Center. In the case of 7 World Trade Center, a reporter for the BBC is recorded on live camera reporting the collapse of 7 World Trade Center before it actually collapsed.

Patricia Ondrovic says in an interview with Killtown that a man in uniform warned the workers that there was going to be another plane (a third one) striking the towers and that everyone had to leave the World Trade Center complex area after this warning. All the emergency personnel were ordered to stop what they were doing and evacuate. This evacuation took place a few minutes before the towers fell. People started running away from the towers when they heard this warning. The warning probably saved many lives and also reduced the number of people receiving radiation, flash burns and blast injuries. The warnings could indicate that someone had foreknowledge of the collapses of the towers. The warnings were given a few minutes before the collapse of the South Tower (the first tower to fall). Alternatively, it could have been a fortunate rumor started by someone who thought more plane crashes were coming.

Whatever the reason behind the warnings, they did save lives and prevent potential injuries. Many people started to run as fast as they could and as far as they could from the World Trade Center buildings when they heard the warnings. The warnings reduced the number of people close to the South Tower at the time of its collapse. This could explain why many people were able to survive the nuclear detonation of the South Tower.

Mayor Rudolph Giuliani was also given a warning that the towers were about to collapse shortly before the South Tower collapsed. (Find the link to explain that.)

Late Effects of Radiation

Delayed effects of radiation exposure include impaired functioning and degenerative changes in many organs, particularly bone marrow, kidney, lungs, and the lens of the eye.

The most serious late effect is a significantly increased incidence of leukemia and other blood cancers, and thyroid, lung and breast cancers (compared to the average figure among people exposed to doses less than 100 rad).

There is an increased incidence of leukemia, lung cancer, radiation-induced anemia and bone cancer among people exposed to doses less than 100 rad.

The mode of exposure to radiation often affects the type of cancer that develops: watch painters in the early 20th century who licked their paintbrushes had a high incidence of bone cancer and radiation-induced anemia. Uranium miners who inhaled radioactive dust had a high incidence of lung cancer. There is a high incidence of leukemia among Hiroshima survivors who were exposed to 100+ rads. Leukemia is considered the sentinel disease of radiation exposure as it appears relatively early (often within 5 years) and there is a big difference in incidence of this cancer between those exposed to significant levels of radiation and those not exposed to radiation.

Radiation exposure can also cause cataracts and hair loss, and increase the risk of infertility and birth defects.

See the chapter on Cancer at the World Trade Center. (LINK)

Fallout composition

Alpha and beta particles form in the process of radioactive decay and become important sources of radiation when fallout commences to settle. Gamma rays still remain important. Neutron radiation ceases to be important.

Fallout is a complex mixture of radioisotopes, the composition of which continually is in flux as isotopes decay into other isotopes. Initially, radiation from short-lived isotopes dominates. Over time, the longer-lived isotopes become more important. A small group of isotopes have special significance in fallout.

These are iodine-131, strontium-90, strontium-89 and cesium-137. They are abundant in fallout and have special biological affinity.

Iodine is a beta and gamma emitter with a half-life of 8 days. It is most dangerous in the weeks after the explosion but hazardous amounts can persist for a few months. It is readily absorbed by the body and concentrates in the thyroid gland.

Strontium-90 is a beta-emitter with a half-life of 28 years. Sr-89 is a beta-emitter with a half-life of 52 days. Because of their chemical similarity to calcium they are absorbed well and are stored in the bones. Sr-90 can remain a hazard for centuries. Most of the injury from Sr-90 is from its daughter isotope, yttrium-90 which has a half-life of 64 hours and emits beta radiation.

Cesium-137 is a beta and gamma emitter with a half-life of 30 years. It remains a hazard for centuries.

Tritium is produced in fusion reactions. Most of it is consumed in the explosion but significant amounts survive. It is a weak beta emitter with a half-life of 12 years.

A radioactive product is considered to be no longer emitting dangerous amounts of radiation after a period of ten times the half-life of that radioactive product.


The equations below provide approximate scaling laws for relating the destructive radius of radiation effect with yield:

(r_radiation = Y^0.19 * constant_rad

If Y is in multiples (or fractions) of 2.5 kt, then the result is in km (and all the constants equal one). This is based on thermal radiation just sufficient to cause 3rd degree burns (8 calories/cm^2); a 4.6 psi blast overpressure (and optimum burst height); and a 500 rem radiation dose.)

The intensity of nuclear radiation, like thermal radiation, decreases with the inverse square law. However nuclear radiation is also strongly absorbed by the air it travels through which causes the intensity to drop off much more rapidly. Additionally, the explosions of the nuclear bombs within the Twin Towers were contained within the concrete and steel walls of the towers. The walls of the towers would have absorbed some of the radiation energy. The walls functioned as a shield for the radiation.

As in the case of thermal radiation, these scaling laws underestimate the yield of the World Trade Center bombs as these laws do not take into account the effect of shielding.


This quote explains the principle of shielding. (REF=http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Radiation_sickness#Shielding)

By placing a layer of a material which will absorb the radiation between the source and the human, the dose and dose rate can be reduced. For instance, in the event of a nuclear war, it would be a good idea to shelter within a building with thick stone walls (Fallout shelter). During the height of the cold war, fallout shelters were identified in many urban areas.

Fallout shelters aim to reduce gamma ray (the most penetrating radiation) exposure by a factor of 1000. The Twin Towers had thick walls of reinforced concrete and there was a steel exoskeleton in place that would have provided an additional shielding effect. The windows were relatively narrow and altogether did not make up a large percentage of the area of the towers’ walls.

A basic fallout shelter consists of shields that reduce gamma ray exposure by a factor of 1000 (..) The required shielding can be accomplished with 10 times the amount of any quantity of material capable of cutting gamma ray effects in half. Shields that reduce gamma ray intensity by 50% (1/2) include 1 cm (0.4 inch) of lead, 6 cm (2.4 inches) of concrete, 9 cm (3.6 inches) of packed dirt or 150 m (500 ft) of air. When multiple thicknesses are built, the shielding multiplies. Thus, a practical fallout shield is ten halving-thicknesses of packed dirt. This reduces gamma rays by a factor of 1024, which is 2 multiplied by itself ten times. This multiplies out to 90 cm (3 ft) of dirt.(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fallout_shelter)

The nuclear bombs were detonated at some distance above ground level, at least ten stories above the ground, and the stories between the site of detonation and the ground provided some degree of shielding for the people on the ground below, allowing some people to survive the nuclear detonation.

Effective public shelters can be the middle floors of some tall buildings or parking structures, or below ground level in most buildings with more than 10 floors. The thickness of the upper floors must form an effective shield (..)

Air-raid shelters in Japan during the Pacific War functioned effectively as nuclear fallout shelters for some people when the atomic bombs were dropped. A child who sheltered in one of these survived the detonation of the Nagasaki atomic bomb although he was located close to the hypocenter.

“Citizens who were in Matsuyama township, the hypocenter, were all killed instantly, excepting a child who was in an air-raid shelter.” (REF=http://www.gensuikin.org/english/photo.html)

Disaster near the hypocenter. Matsuyama township. “A huge fireball formed in the sky. Directly beneath it is Matsuyama township. Together with the flash came the heat rays and blast, which instantly destroyed everything on earth, and those in the area fell unconscious and were crushed to death.”

The shielding effect of materials is expressed in half-value or tenth-value thickness – the thickness required to reduce the radiation by one-half or one-tenth. Successive layers reduce the intensity by the same proportion. Some examples of tenth-value thicknesses for gamma rays are steel 8.4-11 cm, concrete 28-41 cm, wood 100-160 cm. (Archive)


A massive washing operation was undertaken almost immediately after the World Trade Center tower collapses. Washing the World Trade Center site, the streets around the site, and everything that came into contact with the debris and dust produced by the World Trade Center attacks was a priority for the authorities. In total, thirty million gallons of water passed through the World Trade Center cratered site (dubbed the Bathtub).

The World Trade Center Bathtub after it had been thoroughly washed. Thirty million gallons of water passed through this area in the aftermath of the attacks.

Washing contains radioactivity. It dilutes the concentrations of radioactive contaminants to be found at an irradiated site and leaches them away from the area. Washing would have been an effective measure to counter the large quantities of radioactive dust (fallout) that settled over Manhattan after the nuclear detonations of the World Trade Center towers and lessened the chances of a nuclear attack being detected.

A similar program of washing and rinsing-down was instituted in Chernobyl after the disaster there.

Nearby roads can be rinsed and washed down to remove dust and debris; the contaminated materials would collect in the sewers and gutters for easier disposal. In Kiev after the Chernobyl accident a program of road washing was used to control the spread of radioactivity.
(REF=http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fallout_shelter )

Containing the radiation and washing away the evidence of the nuclear attacks as much as possible may have been the rationale for the urgency of the washing and the huge scale of the washing efforts. Details were not overlooked. Special tire-washing stations were set up. Containment activities post-attacks were included in the secret planning for the World Trade Center nuclear attacks. (See this website.) These cleaning activities also reduced the chances of detection of radiation if measuring surveys had taken place soon after the attacks. As far as is known, there is only one account of a person taking a Geiger counter to the streets of Manhattan and taking measurements of the environmental radioactivity. His readings were negative.

The aftermath of the World Trade Center terrorist attack created environmental cross-contamination and track-out problems similar to those faced today by most landfills, mines and quarries.

Trucks leaving the Ground Zero site as part of the debris removal operation carried asbestos contamination and dirt, and were spreading it all over New York City streets.

The EPA and the environmental contractors doing the clean-up work turned to InterClean to provide tire wash stations for the site.

The real engineering and manufacturing challenge was to complete the task within the allocated time frame. The tire wash systems were due to be operational within three weeks after the first contact by the EPA. This included setting up the buildings with total turnkey installations.

The ground zero tire and wheel wash systems used standard InterClean components and operated in similar fashion to the new InterClean Tire Wash System. The ground zero tire washers were built and installed in record time and washed vehicles in record numbers, over 2,000 each day.
(REF=http://www.interclean.com/InterClean/List/wtc/index.htm. Interclean Equipment)

Tire washing system set up close to Ground Zero (REF=http://www.interclean.com/InterClean/List/wtc/index.htm)


Cells are capable of repairing a great deal of genetic damage but the repairs take time. If the repair mechanisms are overwhelmed by rapid repeated injuries, cell repair will fail or be faulty. A cell that attempts to divide before it has been repaired properly will fail to divide properly and both cells will die. The tissues that are most sensitive to radiation injury are those that undergo rapid division such as bone marrow cells. Cells of lymphoid tissue, gastrointestinal tract, germinal epithelium, and hair follicle also divide rapidly and are highly vulnerable to the effects radiation.

It has been found in radiation biology experiments that if a group of cells are irradiated, then as the dose increases, the number of cells which survive decreases. It has also been found that if a population of cells is given a dose before being set aside (without being irradiated) for a length of time before being irradiated again, then the radiation causes less cell death.

The effects of radiation injury depend on the rate of exposure as well as the length of exposure. Repair mechanisms can offset injuries that occur over a period of time. This is why someone who receives a high dose of radiation but receives the dose in fractions with periods of no radiation interspersing periods of radiation may survive whereas someone who receives a smaller but continuous dose of radiation may not. This is what happened in the Goiania radiation accident. (LINK= http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Radiation_sickness#Fractionation_of_dose)

While Devair Alves Ferreira received a large dose during the Goiânia accident of 7.0 Gy, he lived while his wife received a dose of 5.7 Gy and died. The most likely explanation is that his dose was fractionated into many smaller doses which were absorbed over a length of time, while his wife stayed in the house more and was subjected to continuous irradiation without a break, giving her body less time to repair some of the damage done by the radiation. In the same way, some of the people who worked in the basement of the wrecked Chernobyl plant received doses of 10 Gy, but in small fractions, so the acute effects were avoided.

World Trade Center recovery workers often wore just cloth masks or surgical-type paper masks while they were working at Ground Zero. Many were not adequately clothed to protect against the penetration of radiation. They should have used respirators and worn clothing that shielded them from the residual radiation including the radiation contained in the dust (fallout).

Below is a description of the typical working conditions of the World Trade Center rescue and recovery workers after the 9/11 attacks. They had inadequate protection against the dust and the radiation that it emitted. Acker, Vallebuona, and Walcott later developed cancers.

“… Vallebuona and Walcott had joined thousands of first responders at the World Trade Center (..) Racing to the scene from the Seventh Precinct, on Pitt Street, Vallebuona encountered a giant cloud of dust and smoke so hazy and dense, he couldn’t see his hand in front of his face (..) The dust caked his eyes and coated his lips. It filled his nostrils with a horrible smell, like burned plastic and flesh. Vallebuona happened to have a bandanna in his pants pocket, which he wrapped across his face. It did little to ward off the rancid odor.

Walcott was also experiencing the noxious effects of the chemical brew. While the massive cloud had dissipated, the crystalline particles hung in the air like speckles in a snow globe. He waded though mounds of pulverized dust, knee-deep, tasting it on his lips, spitting it out of his mouth. Without a mask, he was coughing immediately. First came the black mucus and ashen chunks, then the dry heaves and blood. For hours, he wiped away dark gunk dripping from his eyes (..)

Acker arrived on the scene 24 hours later (..) He would spend the next 33 days in and around ground zero (..) Many nights, he’d oversee the satellite atop 1 Police Plaza, just east of ground zero, and watch as the prevailing winds subsided and the bright-blue smoke settled in. It hung so heavily on the city that he couldn’t see the guards stationed across the street.

In these early days, Acker, Vallebuona, and Walcott all struggled to protect themselves from the toxic dust. The foul odor clogged the air for the three months that Vallebuona ended up working at the site—first on the Pile, hauling rubble with buckets, then around the perimeter, providing security and escorting residents to their dust-laden homes. When he and Walcott searched the rubble as part of the initial bucket brigade, they wore nothing over their faces but surgical masks. Respirator masks came weeks into their months-long recovery work; sometimes they came with the wrong filters.” (REF=http://www.villagevoice.com/news/0648,lombardi,75156,2.html. The Village Voice. Death by Dust)

First responders escorting a victim on a stretcher. Notice the lack of adequate protection. Only paper masks.

Radiation injury

Ionizing radiation in the non-acute situation causes injury primarily through injury to chromosomes. Most of the damage is mediated by free radicals that are created from radiation. These reactive chemical species then damage the DNA and disrupt other cellular chemistry.
(REF=http://www.nuclearfiles.org/menu/key-issues/nuclear-weapons/basics/weapons-basics.htm. NuclearFiles.org, Weapons Basics)



Background on Suitcase Nuclear Device

1 KT Nuclear Device:
Powerpoint of 1 KT Device Exploded in the Center of Washington, DC
(source: “In-Depth Medical Management for Nuclear/Radiological/Conventional Terrorism Agents”)
NOTE: this file is a 2.7 MB Powerpoint File

1 KT Nuclear Device
Summary of Impact of 1 KT Nuclear Blast

1 KT – Effective Range for Blast Energy
350 m LD50 11 m/sec – LD50 means 50% mortality (1148.29 feet = 0.2174792 mile)
550 m ED50 4.3 m/sec – ED50 would affect 50% population (1804.46 feet = 0.3417538 mile)
750 m Penetrating Wounds 55 m/sec (2460.63 feet = 0.4660284 mile)

1 KT- Blast Energy and Static Overpressure
150 m LD50 50 psi – LD50 means 50% mortality (492.126 feet = 0.0932057 mile)
300 m ED50 20 psi – ED50 would affect 50% population (984.252 feet = 0.1864114 mile)
700 m Eardrum Rupture 5 psi (2296.59 feet = 0.4349602 mile)

1 KT – Safe Separation Distance for Eye Injuries
Weapon Yield – 1 KT
Detonation Altitude – 300 Meters
Personnel Altitude – Sea Level
Daytime Visibility – 46 km (28.5830748 mile)
Retinal Burns – 16.7 km (10.3768989 mile)
Flash Blindness – 5.9 km (3.66609 miles)

1 KT – Effective Range for Thermal Energy Infrared
700m – 7 cal/cm2 (2296.59 feet = 0.4349602 mile)
800m – 4 cal/cm2 (2624.67 feet = 0.4970966 mile)
1200m – 2 cal/cm2 (3937.01 feet = 0.7456458 mile)

The nuclear weapons used on the World Trade Center were less than 1 kt in yield combined. They were thermonuclear (fission-fusion) weapons and very clean weapons. They were used to take down the steel core of the towers, maximizing the damage to the towers and causing them to be destroyed completely. It was also important to destroy the planes that crashed into the towers including everything in them. Complete destruction of the crime scene was one of the goals. No evidence showing how the ruse was done could be allowed to remain.

Eye injuries

Eye irritation was one of the most frequent injuries (26%) to present in the weeks immediately after the attacks among the survivors of the WTC attacks, second after inhalation injuries (49%). (REF=http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm5101a1.htm – Rapid assessment of injuries among survivors of the terrorist attack on the WTC.) Dust was the cause of the eye irritation. Radiation also contributed. Flash burn injuries due to radiation to the eyes were less likely to be seen in the World Trade Center attacks due to the shielding effect of the walls of the World Trade Center towers.

Flash blindness is caused by the initial brilliant flash of light produced by the nuclear detonation. More light energy is received on the retina than can be tolerated, but less than is required for irreversible injury (..) The result is bleaching of the visual pigments and temporary blindness. During the daylight hours, flash blindness does not persist for more than about 2 minutes, but generally is of the order of seconds. (REF=http://www.fas.org/nuke/guide/usa/doctrine/dod/fm8-9/1ch4.htm. FAS)

“For a person standing outdoors some distance from ground zero, the first indication that a nuclear explosion has occurred is a blinding flash of intense ultraviolet radiation.3b” (REF=http://www.is.wayne.edu/mnissani/PAGEPUB/CH2.html, Consequences of Nuclear War) Eye Injury (REF=http://nuclearweaponarchive.org/Nwfaq/Nfaq5.html)

The brightness and thermal output of a nuclear explosion presents an obvious source of injury to the eye. Injury to the cornea through surface heating, and injury to the retina are both possible risks. Surprisingly, very few cases of injury were noted in Japan. A number of factors acted to reduce the risk. First, eye injury occurs when vision is directed towards the fireball. People spend relatively little time looking up at the sky so only a very small portion of the population would have their eyes directed at the fireball at the time of burst. Second, since the bomb exploded in bright daylight the eye pupil would be expected to be small.

About 4% of the population within the 3rd degree burn zone at Hiroshima reported keratitis, pain and inflammation of the cornea, which lasted several hours to several days. No other corneal damage was noted.

The most common eye injury was flash blindness, a temporary condition in which the visual pigment of retina is bleached out by the intense light. Vision is completely recovered as the pigment is regenerated, a process that takes several seconds to several minutes. This can cause serious problems though in carrying out emergency actions, like taking cover from the oncoming blast wave.

Retinal injury is the most far reaching injury effect of nuclear explosions, but it is relatively rare since the eye must be looking directly at the detonation. Retinal injury results from burns in the area of the retina where the fireball image is focused. The brightness per unit area of a fireball does not diminish with distance (except for the effects of haze), the apparent fireball size simply gets smaller. Retinal injury can thus occur at any distance at which the fireball is visible, though the affected area of the retina gets smaller as range increases. The risk of injury is greater at night since the pupil is dilated and admits more light. For explosions in the atmosphere of 100 kt and up, the blink reflex protects the retina from much of the light.

Bright glow

VIDEO: “Tower 1 afterglow” [Dailymotion]

The video shows flashing that occurs on detonation of the nuclear bomb in One World Trade Center (North Tower). For a couple of seconds, a flash lights up the whole screen with a strange bright glow. This is the burst of radiant energy that is given off at the time of the detonation. It makes you want to shield your eyes. It is stronger than the sunlight. The sudden brightening of the screen is coincident with the dustification of the steel core remnant seen in the foreground.


Image from the video

Radiation injury to the eyes cause cataracts (clouding of the lens). There is a significantly high incidence of cataracts among the recovery workers of Staten Island where tons of debris from the World Trade Center attacks had been removed to. The workers spent a long time exposed to the radiation emitted by the millions of tons of debris, steel beams, cars and other items that were removed to Staten Island for sorting. Staten Island was one of the areas that showed a radiation spike in a radiation survey over the NY City area by helicopter, five years after the event. It was one of the eighty unexpected peaks in radioactivity detected by this aerial survey conducted by the Government Accounting Office. (REF=http://neworleans.indymedia.org/news/2006/10/8945.php. NOLA Indy Media, Israeli Embassy in NYC “Radiation Hotspot”)

(REF: Police Benevolent Association)

The high level of radiation in Staten Island shown by the GAO aerial survey is consistent with high levels of radioactivity in the debris of World Trade Center. The weight of the debris removed to the Staten Island Fresh Kills Landfill is 1.62 million tons. (REF=http://www.usnews.com/usnews/9_11/articles/911freshkills.htm) (Expected radiation hot spots in the survey were granite statues and hospitals.) Unlike the World Trade Center and the streets surrounding the Ground Zero, no massive washing took place at the Fresh Kills sorting grounds on Staten Island. Building debris, soil, office furniture, cars and mountains of soil were moved to the Staten Island location from Ground Zero before there was a chance to clean them of radioactive contamination. Steel from the World Trade Center could have become radioactive from neutron irradiation during the explosion. Elements in the steel could have reacted with remnants of the weapon and with the radioactive isotopes produced in the nuclear explosion and become radioactive.

All these factors could have combined to produce the high incidence of cataracts, cancers and other radiation-related illnesses in the Fresh Kills recovery workers.

Similarly, atomic-bomb survivors have a very high incidence of cataracts.

Cataract affecting an A-bomb victim

The right photograph shows an eyeball of an A-bomb victim who got an atomic bomb cataract. There is opacity near the center of the eyeball. It has been known for some time though that radiation causes cataracts in animals. But cataracts developed in human beings after the atomic bombings in Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

According to a clinical report of 128 cataract cases in Hiroshima during the four years from 1957, 38.3% had atomic bomb cataracts or suspected atomic bomb cataracts. It is reported that 70% of those were within 1 kilometer from the hypocenter, and 30% were within 2 kilometers.

Some Atomic-bomb cataracts occurred several months after exposure, while most occurred several years later. In the case of this patient, it was diagnosed as an atomic bomb cataract in 1970, 25 years after the bomb.

The crystalline lens of the eye is like a camera lens. Radiation cataract causes partial opacity (cloudiness) in the crystalline lens. Symptoms are usually observed after several months of latency (two to three years on average) following radiation exposure. Unlike senile cataract (a similar condition common in old age), few radiation cataracts advance, and visual impairment is infrequent. One aspect of radiation cataract that sets it apart from radiation-related cancer is the possible existence of a “threshold,” a certain low-dose value below which no effect is observed. Figure 1 shows the relation between radiation dose and the frequency of people with lens opacity among A-bomb survivors in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Figure 2 describes how lens opacity is caused by radiation. There is a transparent layer of epithelial cells on the interior frontal side of the capsule that covers the lens. This layer maintains the function of the lens by slowly growing toward the center, achieved through cell division at the periphery (called the equator) of the lens. Because radiation is especially harmful to dividing cells, exposed cells at the equator are most prone to damage. For unknown reasons, damaged cells move toward the rear of the lens before converging on the center. Such cells prevent light from traveling straight forward, resulting in opacity.


Figure 1


Figure 2

(REF=http://www.rerf.or.jp/radefx/early_e/cataract.html. Radiation Effects Research Foundation, Radiation cataract)

Radiation is a well-known etiologic agent in causing cataracts. Pilots who are exposed to radiation in the air from the result of flying in high altitudes in the atmosphere where the bombardment by cosmic rays is more pronounced develop high rates of cataracts over and above normal.

In Hiroshima, burns were the most prevalent serious injury. Blast and burn injuries affected 60-70% of survivors. People close enough to suffer significant radiation were within a radius sufficient to suffer lethal blast and thermal effects. As a result only 30% of those injured showed radiation illness.

In general, radiation as a cause of injury was not suspected in the World Trade Center attacks. Hence radiation poisoning was probably overlooked by physicians. It is likely that any symptoms and signs of radiation poisoning that were present in the survivors and recovery workers would have been attributed to some other cause, especially as there is overlap in the clinical picture of radiation poisoning and thermal and blast injuries. Many people close enough to the hypocenters of the nuclear detonations at the World Trade Center to be affected by severe radiation poisoning probably died from the blast and thermal effects of the explosions.

Rapid Assessment of Injuries Among Survivors of the Terrorist Attack on the World Trade Center — New York City, September 2001
Jan 11, 2002

On September 11, 2001, a jet aircraft crashed into the north tower of the World Trade Center (World Trade Center) in lower Manhattan. Minutes later, a second aircraft crashed into the South Tower. The impact, fires, and subsequent collapse of the buildings resulted in the deaths of thousands of persons. The precise number and causes of deaths could not be assessed in the immediate aftermath of the attack; however, data were available on the frequency and type of injuries among survivors (Figure 1). In previous disasters, such information assisted in characterizing type and severity of injuries and the health-care services needed by survivors (1). To assess injuries and use of health-care services by survivors, the New York City Department of Health (NYCDOH) conducted a field investigation to review emergency department (ED) and inpatient medical records at the four hospitals closest to the crash site and a fifth hospital that served as a burn referral center. This report summarizes findings of that assessment, which indicated that the arrival of injured persons to this sample of hospitals began within minutes of the attack and peaked 2 to 3 hours later. Among 790 injured survivors treated within 48 hours, approximately 50% received care within 7 hours of the attack, most for inhalation or ocular injuries; 18% were hospitalized. Comprehensive surveillance of disaster-related health effects is an integral part of effective disaster planning and response.

Within 6 hours of the WTC attack, a NYCDOH rapid assessment team began collecting demographic and clinical data on all persons who sought emergency care from 8 a.m. September 11 to 8 a.m. September 13 at the five Manhattan hospitals. Information about each person included sex, age, mode of arrival at the hospital, date and time of registration or initial assessment, type and anatomic location of injury or illness, whether the injury or illness was attributable to the attack, and whether the person was admitted for additional treatment or was discharged from the ED. Among the 1,688 ED patients who received care at the sampled hospitals during the assessment period, 1,103 (65%) were survivors treated for injuries or illnesses related to the attack. A link between injury or illness and the attack was not established for 96 (6%) patients because of incomplete documentation; specific injury or illness was missing for 161 (15%), and admission and discharge data were not documented for 108 (10%). The median age of 1,103 survivors was 39 years (range:

Within 12 hours of the first crash, emergency care was sought by 511 (71%) of the 723 survivors with recorded injuries and time of assessment (Figure 2). The survivors with injuries requiring admission and additional treatment presented earlier than those treated and released. Approximately 50% of the survivors admitted for treatment presented within 4 hours of the event (interquartile range: 2.4–8.9 hours). In comparison, approximately 50% of the survivors treated and released from the ED presented within 7.6 hours (interquartile range: 3.5–15.3 hours). Rescue workers arrived later than other survivors and accounted for 59 (51%) of 115 survivors presenting to the EDs during the first 24–48 hours after the attack (Figure 2).

Among 790 survivors with injuries, 386 (49%) had inhalation injuries and 204 (26%) had ocular injuries (Table 1). Most inhalation and ocular injuries were attributed to smoke, dust, debris, or fumes. A total of 443 (56%) survivors were treated for inhalation injury, ocular injury, or a combination of both without additional injuries. Among survivors hospitalized with injuries, 52 (37%) sustained inhalation injuries and 27 (19%) sustained burns. Most survivors with fractures (59%), burns (69%), closed head injuries (57%), or crush injuries (75%) were hospitalized for additional treatment. The injury pattern among rescue workers differed from the pattern among other survivors (Table 2). A significantly higher percentage of rescue workers sustained ocular injuries (39% versus 19%; p<0.0001), and a significantly lower percentage of rescue workers sustained burns (2% versus 6%; p<0.01).



Answer to Question #340 Submitted to “Ask the Experts”

Category: Radiation Effects — Hiroshima and Nagasaki

The following question was answered by an expert in the appropriate field:

Many Japanese died immediately from the blast forces, heat, and fires resulting from the atomic explosions at Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and a large number died within weeks or months from radiation effects. (1) What information is available about the health and life-span of those who survived? (2) For example, how many were still alive after 50 years and how does this compare with Japan in general? (3) What about genetic effects in the children born of the survivors? (4) Is there reasonable evidence from the work with survivors to support the possibility of low radiation being less harmful than expected or even beneficial? Thanks for your expert service.


Treatment of victims of nuclear bombs depends on how close they were to the hypocenter and numerous other factors. Those in close proximity were killed acutely by blast and heat, and no treatment was possible. Those a little farther away, who survived these effects, suffered from acute radiation syndromes and became quite ill within hours to days. The duration of the latent period is inversely proportional to radiation dose, that is, proximity to the hypocenter. In Japan most of these received little or no treatment. The problem was the massive number of casualties in this class and the lack of knowledge of the medical personnel. In cases of nuclear accidents (for example, Chernobyl) the subjects who got doses greater than 10-12 Gy received supportive care only (nutrition, fluids, narcotics for pain, etc.) because their radiation injuries were universally fatal. Those in the 8-10 Gy range could benefit from marrow transplants. Those below 8 Gy would probably survive with supportive care. Exposed individuals who survived the acute effects, however, were later found to suffer increased incidence of cancer of essentially all organs. The cancers occurred years to decades later. Excess cancers are still being detected in this population, now more than 50 years after the bombing. Excess cancer means that these individuals are more likely to get cancer than other Japanese. The cancers they get are in no way different from spontaneous cancer in other Japanese. Animal studies have detected genetic effects from these sublethal doses: mutations that occur in offspring, perhaps several generations later. No such effects have been detected in offspring of Japanese survivors. However, most mutations are recessive and require several generations to detect. The second generation of offspring of the Japanese is just now appearing.

S. Julian Gibbs, DDS, PhD




Radiation occurs when unstable nuclei of atoms decay and release particles. There are many different types of radiation. When these particles touch various organic material such as tissue, damage may, and probably will, be done. Radiation can cause burns, cancers, and death.

Units of Measurement

The unit used to measure radiation dosage is the rem, which stands for roentgen equivalent in man. It represents the amount of radiation needed to produce a particular amount of damage to living tissue. The total dose of rems determines how much harm a person suffers. At Hiroshima and Nagasaki, people received a dose of rems at the instant of the explosions, then more from the surroundings and, in limited areas, from fallout. Fallout is composed of radioactive particles that are carried into the upper atmosphere by a nuclear explosion and that eventually fall back to the earth’s surface.

Effects of Radiation Exposure on Human Health

Although a dose of just 25 rems causes some detectable changes in blood, doses to near 100 rems usually have no immediate harmful effects. Doses above 100 rems cause the first signs of radiation sickness including:

• nausea
• vomiting
• headache
• some loss of white blood cells

Doses of 300 rems or more cause temporary hair loss, but also more significant internal harm, including damage to nerve cells and the cells that line the digestive tract. Severe loss of white blood cells, which are the body’s main defense against infection, makes radiation victims highly vulnerable to disease. Radiation also reduces production of blood platelets, which aid blood clotting, so victims of radiation sickness are also vulnerable to hemorrhaging. Half of all people exposed to 450 rems die, and doses of 800 rems or more are always fatal. Besides the symptoms mentioned above, these people also suffer from fever and diarrhea. As of yet, there is no effective treatment–so death occurs within two to fourteen days.

In time, for survivors, diseases such as leukemia (cancer of the blood), lung cancer, thyroid cancer, breast cancer, and cancers of other organs can appear due to the radiation received.

Major Radiation Exposure in Real Life Events
Hiroshima and Nagasaki

Many people at Hiroshima and Nagasaki died not directly from the actual explosion, but from the radiation released as a result of the explosion. For example, a fourteen-year-old boy was admitted to a Hiroshima hospital two days after the explosion, suffering from a high fever and nausea. Nine days later his hair began to fall out. His supply of white blood cells dropped lower and lower. On the seventeenth day he began to bleed from his nose, and on the twenty-first day he died.

At Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the few surviving doctors observed symptoms of radiation sickness for the first time. In his book Nagasaki 1945, Dr. Tatsuichiro Akizuki wrote of the puzzling, unknown disease, of symptoms that “suddenly appeared in certain patients with no apparent injuries.” Several days after the bombs exploded, doctors learned that they were treating the effects of radiation exposure. “We were now able to label our unknown adversary ‘atomic disease’ or ‘radioactive contamination’ among other names. But they were only labels: we knew nothing about its cause or cure… Within seven to ten days after the A-bomb explosion, people began to die in swift succession. They died of the burns that covered their bodies and of acute atomic disease. Innumerable people who had been burnt turned a mulberry color, like worms, and died… The disease,” wrote Dr. Akizuki, “destroyed them little by little. As a doctor, I was forced to face the slow and certain deaths of my patients.”

Doctors and nurses had no idea of how their own bodies had been affected by radioactivity. Dr. Akizuki wrote, “All of us suffered from diarrhea and a discharge of blood from the gums, but we kept this to ourselves. Each of us thought: tomorrow it might be me… We became stricken with fear of the future.” Dr. Akizuki survived, as did several hundred thousand others in or near Hiroshima and Nagasaki. In fact, at least ten people who had fled from Hiroshima to Nagasaki survived both bombs.

The survivors have suffered physically from cataracts, leukemia and other cancers, malformed offspring, and premature aging, and also emotionally, from social discrimination. Within a few months of the nuclear explosions, leukemia began to appear among the survivors at an abnormally high rate. Some leukemia victims were fetuses within their mothers’ wombs when exposed to radiation. One child who was born two days after the Hiroshima explosion eventually died of acute leukemia at the age of eighteen. The number of leukemia cases has declined with time, but the incidence of lung cancer, thyroid cancer, breast cancer, and cancers of other organs has increased among the survivors.




What is this?

Note: The information on this page is excerpted from United Nations page “Chernobyl Info”. Chernobyl.info was developed by the United Nations and the Swiss Agency for International Development to serve as an unbiased and reliable international communication platform regarding the long term consequences of the Chernobyl disaster. The UN website contains the original sources for all facts cited. The debate continues about the extent to which radiation affects human health. The November 2005 Report of the Secretary General of the United Nations urged the international assistance community to focus on projects that address poverty, lack of economic opportunity, inadequate health care, and environmental degradation in Chernobyl regions. Chernobyl Children’s Project International fully supports this holistic approach to alleviating suffering in the region.

Chernobyl: The Facts

In the early morning hours of 26 April 1986, a testing error caused an explosion at the Chernobyl nuclear power station in northern Ukraine. During a radioactive fire that burned for 10 days, 190 tons of toxic materials were expelled into the atmosphere. The wind blew 70% of the radioactive material into the neighboring country of Belarus.

Almost 20 years later, the people of Belarus continue to suffer medically, economically, environmentally and socially from the effects of the disaster. These are the facts:

The Accident

* The Chernobyl power plant is located on the border area between Ukraine and Belarus.

* The explosion of the reactor at Chernobyl released 100 times more radiation than the atom bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. (1)

* At the time of the accident, about 7 million people lived in contaminated territories, including 3 million children.

* About 5.5 million people – including more than a million children – continue to live in contaminated zones. (2)

Radiation and Health

A common misconception is that only about 31 people died as a result of the Chernobyl disaster. In order to understand the full extent of the health impact of the Chernobyl disaster, we have to understand two types of exposure to radiation.

1) Acute Exposure is a high dose of radiation over a short period of time. Approximately 134 power station workers were exposed to extremely high doses of radiation directly after the accident. About 31 of these people died within 3 months. Another 25,000 “liquidators” – the soldiers and firefighters who were involved in clean up operations – have died since the disaster of diseases such as lung cancer, leukemia, and cardiovascular disease.

2) Long Term Exposure refers to various lower doses of radiation that result in tumors, genetic mutations, and damage to the immune system. In the case of Chernobyl, millions of people will continue to be exposed to such doses of radiation for decades to come.

The unstable radioactive elements iodine-131, caesium-137, strontium-90 and plutonium-239 do their damage when they are spread via inhaled dust particles, deposited in the earth by rainfall, or enter the food chain through plants and animals. When the human body is exposed to these elements, free radicals impair cellular function and may damage DNA. The cells of the embryo, lymphatic system, thyroid, bone marrow, intestines, breast and eggs are very vulnerable to the effects of radiation. Almost 20 years after the disaster, the results of long term exposure to radiation are becoming apparent. Experts also recognize that poverty and poor diet are contributing factors to the health problems in many Chernobyl affected regions.

Health Impact: What We Know So Far

Only with the passage of time, and additional research, will we understand the full extent of the impact of the Chernobyl disaster on the health of those in the affected regions. Experts disagree on how many of the following problems are specifically caused by radiation, and also recognize that poverty, poor diet, lifestyles, and even fear of radiation, are contributing factors to the health problems seen in Chernobyl affected regions. Programs designed to help Chernobyl affected populationsmedically need to focus on all potential causes of poor health.

* Thyroid Cancer: Thyroid cancer in children has increased dramatically since the disaster, particularly in the Gomel region of Belarus. The World Health Organization predicts that, in this region alone, 50,000 children will develop the disease during their lifetime. Throughout Belarus, the incidence of this rare disease in 1990 was already 30 times higher than in the years before the accident. (3)

* Leukemia: In the Gomel region of Belarus, incidence of leukemia has already increased 50% in children and adults. (4)

* Other Diseases in Children: In addition to thyroid cancer and leukemia, UNICEF reports that between 1990 and 1994, nervous system disorders increased by 43%; cardiovascular diseases by 43%; bone and muscle disorders by 62%; and diabetes by 28%. UNICEF cautioned that it is difficult to prove whether these increases were caused by radiation or another unknown factor.

* Other Cancers: Swiss Medical Weekly recently published findings showing a 40% increase in all kinds of cancers in Belarus between 1990 and 2000. (5) Tumor specialists fear that a variety of new cancers will only emerge 20-30 years after the disaster. (6) Cases of breast cancer doubled between 1988 and 1999. (7)

* Birth Defects: Maternal exposure to radiation can cause severe organ and brain damage in an unborn child. Five years after the disaster, the Ukrainian Ministry of Health reported three times the normal rate of deformities and developmental abnormalities in newborn children, as well as an increased number of miscarriages, premature births, and stillbirths. (4)

* Genetic Mutations: Hereditary defects in Belarusian newborns increased in the years after the disaster. (8) Scientists have observed that congenital and hereditary defects have passed on to the next generation, as young people exposed to radiation grow up and have their own children. (9)

* Cardiac Abnormalities: Heart disease in Belarus has quadrupled since the accident, caused by the accumulation of radioactive caesium in the cardiac muscle. (10) Doctors report a high incidence of multiple defects of the heart – a condition coined “Chernobyl Heart.”

Environment and Food

Large families in rural areas – people who farm and collect their food – continue to receive large doses of radiation from the food supply. Tragically, these people will need to change their traditional ways forever in order to preserve their own health. (11)

* Soil: Twenty-one percent of prime Belarusian farmland remains dangerously contaminated from the decaying components of plutonium. (11)

* Groundwater: Radiation concentrated in sediments at the bottoms of lakes and ponds – the population continues to contaminate itself by fishing there. The average concentration of radionuclides in the groundwater has risen 10- to 100-fold. (11)

* Air: Although the air outside the Exclusion Zone is generally safe, plowing, summer forest fires, and wind erosion continue to put the air at risk. (12)

* Food: The food and water supply is continuously contaminated by rainfall and by the movement of radioactive dust. Mushrooms – a national disk of Belarus – are severely contaminated in half the country but still collected and eaten. Livestock such as cattle and goats accumulate radioactivity in their meat and milk.

Economic Impact

* Belarus was once a thriving agricultural community, as part of the “breadbasket” of the former Soviet Union.

* The economic damages to Belarus after the accident over 30 years (1986 – 2015) will be $235 billion, or over 32 annual national budgets. (11)

* The Belarusian economy has suffered loss of agricultural land, mineral resources, and production.

Social Impact

* Loss of a Culture: After the Chernobyl accident, almost 400,000 were forced to leave their homes for their own safety – homes and villages that had been part of their families for generations. Over 2,000 towns and villages were bulldozed to the ground, and hundreds more stand eerily silent.

* Fear and Uncertainty: Many Belarusian live in fear, uncertain about the extent to which their health and that of their children is at risk and not knowing where to turn for information. This natural fear is exacerbated by the fact that the extent of the accident was not openly disclosed for many years. “Radiophobia” makes it hard for many in the community to move on with their lives and help themselves.

The Crumbling Sarcophagus

* 97% of the radioactive materials from the Chernobyl plant remains inside a hastily constructed, crumbling sarcophagus. The sarcophagus was meant to be an interim measure, designed with a maximum lifetime of 20-30 years.

* According to a 2003 report by the Russian Atomic Energy Minister, Alexander Rumyantsev, “the concrete shell surrounding the Chernobyl nuclear reactor is in real danger of collapsing at any time.”

* A new shelter, a 1.3 million euro project scheduled to be completed in 2009, is hoped to safely contain Chernobyl for 100 years.



(Emphasis added)

FROM: America’s Reaction to the Atomic Bomb

6 August 1945: Hiroshima

A day like any other began for the quiet yet bustling city of Hiroshima. Only lightly bombed during the war, the people of Hiroshima considered themselves the lucky ones. If only the citizens had known that the reason their city had not been bombed was because Hiroshima had been chosen two years before as a guinea pig for a still yet uncreated atomic bomb. Each morning the air raid sirens would sound throughout the city, but rarely was a bomb dropped. Around seven o’clock on the morning of 6 August 1945, the air raid sirens went off again in the just waking Hiroshima. Many rushed to the air raid shelters, others ignored it. By 7:30, the warning had passed, another false alarm over a reconnaissance plane, and every one was free to begin their day. Yohko Kuwabara, a 7th grade girl at the time of bombing, remembered her morning before the bomb dropped:

“It was a clear but sultry morning. The midsummer sun was so bright it almost hurt my eyes. I looked at my watch. It was already past seven. ‘I’ll be late for school!’ I started getting ready for school in a hurry. The awful scream of the air-raid siren began to echo across the morning sky, but the all-clear signal was given soon after. I left home and rushed over the dry and dusty asphalt to the Yamaguchi-cho streetcar stop. After I had waited thirty or forty minutes, a streetcar bound for Koi pulled up, already packed. Everyone at the stop moved toward the door at once, pushing and shoving. It looked as if I would not be able to get on, no matter how hard I tried. . . . I pushed my way through until I was standing behind the driver. through the windshield I looked at the pedestrians hurrying on their way, and soon we got to Hatchobori.*”

Meanwhile, Mr. Yukiharu Nakagawa, a 16 year old electrical engineer, was working for the Hiroshima Dentetsu Company at the old power plant building. The day began as any other working day for Yukiharu and his coworkers: “The building was a very old red brick building which was approximately one and a quarter miles away from the explosion center. It was before the starting time for work. I was chatting to several colleagues. There was a group of employees who were stretching their bodies. There was another group of employees who were having a morning meeting.”

In Yasufuruichi, near the mountains outside of Hiroshima, Ms. Toshiko Saeki was at her parents home with her children and sister. She was 26 at the time of the bombing. “I remember an airplane appeared from behind the mountains on my left. I thought it was strange to see an airplane flying that time all by itself. I looked at it and it was a B-29. It seemed very strange since there were no anti aircraft guns firing at it. I watched it for a while, then it disappeared. As soon as it disappeared, another airplane appeared from the same direction. It seemed very, very strange. I was still wondering what would happen.”9

Dr. Michihiko Hachiya, director of the Hiroshima Communications Hospital, kept a diary from 6 August until 30 September 1945. He tells his story, and the stories of his friends and co-workers as it happened, as it was lived during that chilling first month and a half after the bomb was dropped. He begins: “The hour was early; the morning still, warm, and beautiful. Shimmering leaves, reflecting sunlight from a cloudless sky, made a pleasant contrast with shadows in my garden as I gazed absently through wide-flung doors opening to the south.”

Then 8:15 am struck on the clock, and the sky over Hiroshima became illuminated with a flash brighter and more powerful than the sun. A wave of heat swept through the city and back again. The beautiful day, in an instant, became a nightmare. Any object within a two kilometer distance from the hypocenter suffered significant burn damage, and those located near the hypocenter were instantaneously vaporized. The Shima hospital, the hypocenter of the atomic bomb was vaporized, along with all her patients. Dr. Hachiya, standing in his living room when the bomb exploded, recounted the moment in his diary:

“Suddenly, a strong flash of light startled me-and then another. . . . A profound weakness overcame me, so I stopped to regain my strength. To my surprise I discovered that I was completely naked. . . . All over the right side of my body I was cut and bleeding. A large splinter was protruding from a mangled wound in my thigh, and something warm trickled into my mouth. My cheek was torn, I discovered as I felt it gingerly, with the lower lip laid wide open. Embedded in my neck was a sizable fragment of glass which I matter-of-factly dislodged, and with the detachment of one stunned and shocked I studied it and my blood-stained hand.11”

As the streetcar arrived in Hatchobori, Yohko continued to watch the pedestrians hurry along on their way to work. The next moment, “I was blinded for a moment by a piercing flash of bright light, and the air filled with yellow smoke like poison gas. Momentarily, it got so dark I couldn’t see anything. There was a loud, dull, thunderous noise. The inside of my mouth was gritty, as if there were sand in it, and my throat hurt. . . . Then I looked down at myself. Gone was the bad I had been carrying in my hand. Gone were the clogs I had been wearing. All I had left was the first-aid bag on my shoulder.”

When a single plane flew overhead with no anti-aircraft guns firing at it, Toshiko was surprised, but when a second followed distantly behind the first, she was very perplexed. As she was still contemplating these two airplanes she had just seen:

“(T)here came a flash of light. I can’t describe what it was like. And then, I felt some hot mask attacking me all of a sudden. I felt hot. I lay flat on the ground, trying to escape from the heat. I forgot all about my children for a moment. Then, there came a big sound, sliding wooden doors and window were blown off into the air. I turned around to see what had happened to the house, and at one part of the ceiling, it was hanging in the air. At some parts, the ceiling was caved in, burying my sister’s child and my child as well.”

Toshiko’s entire family was in Hiroshima when the bomb exploded, and she desperately wanted to go to the city to search for them, but when she wanted to leave, “things and flames were falling from the sky” and she waited until it was safer. On her journey to the city, she asked all whom she saw where in Hiroshima was the most badly hit, everyone replying “‘Hiroshima was attacked. Hiroshima badly hit.” Finally she stopped a man, who was completely naked and covered in burns. To her surprise, this man recognized her, but she could not recognize him. Finally she did: “He was my second eldest brother.” Toshiko finally arrived in Hiroshima late that afternoon. When she arrived, she found chaos: “The whole town of Hiroshima was just in a mess. . . . Everywhere was filled with mourns and groans and sobs and cries.”

Yukiharu did not realize at first that a bomb had exploded. He thought there had been an electrical accident at the plant building he was working in. Then it suddenly became dark and “I heard a huge explosion. The roof of the building had collapsed, and we were under the broken roof. I felt a pain in my head. I managed to escape from the building. I did not know what was happening to us, because we had not experienced any serious bombing. . . . I was not badly hurt. . . . A piece of broken glass was sticking into my head

Thus began the horror and suffering of the citizens of Hiroshima. With a flash of light like lightening at 8:15:17 a.m., the entire world and life changed for the citizens of Hiroshima and their family and loved ones across the country. Meanwhile, in the United States, the time was 5:15 p.m. on the east coast on 5 August 1945. Most people were sitting down to dinner, or coming home from work, or doing daily chores around the house. Almost no one in America had any idea that on the far side of the planet, the United States military and government had decided to wipe a city off the face of the planet. Their headlines were filled with news of continued fighting, the weakening of the Japanese military, the anticipated entry of Russia into the war with Japan. It would not be until the afternoon of the 6 August 1945 for the United States, through a formal radio address by President Harry S. Truman, that the American public and the world would learn of the fate handed to Hiroshima and its citizens.

7 August 1945: The Day After

The day after the atomic bomb destroyed Hiroshima brought new challenges, new hardships, new sufferings, more death and despair. Hiroshima had been completely destroyed. The atomic bomb had detonated about 2,000 feet over Hiroshima, and almost every building in the city had been turned to dust. In less than half a second, heat rays with temperatures of more than 3,000 degrees Celsius caused primary burns within two miles of the hypocenter, and the city turned into a sea of fire.

The thousands of victims who had fled the day before returned in the desperate hope that some shred of their lives remained for them to collect and hold dear. Most found nothing but ashes where once stood their house, broken glass that once served as their dinnerware, twisted metal that they once rode as a bicycle. Burned bloody corpses were piled high everywhere. Huge funeral pyres burned throughout the city, while mass graves for the ashes were being dug wherever the pyre was built, by whomever was strong enough to dig. The search for relatives and loved ones rarely met with success or joy. At the Red Cross Hospital, patients let their presence be known by painting their names on the wall in their own blood in the chance that someone would come looking for them. Along the rivers floated boats with large white flags with the names of people written across them in the hopes that someone would see their name and come to be reunited with their loved ones. Most, however, found the search hopeless and fruitless. Toshiko Saeki went everyday into Hiroshima to search for her lost family members, but “I couldn’t identify people by their faces. Trying to find my family, I had to take a look at their clothing . . .I couldn’t find any of my family, so I went out to the playground. There were four piles of bodies and I stood in front of them. I just didn’t know what to do. . . . If I tried to find my beloved ones, I would have to remove the bodies one by one. It just wasn’t possible. I really felt sad.” Toshiko would lose 13 family members to the bomb, including her mother and father and brother.

Those who came to Hiroshima from other towns and cities were not prepared for what they saw. Familiar landmarks were gone, buildings were gone, and only a few shells of structures remained to haunt the smoldering city. Two friends of Dr. Hachiya arrived in Hiroshima from his home town to check on his condition. They continuously repeated the horrors they had seen to convince themselves what they had witnessed was reality, not a nightmare. Mr. Katsutani, one of his friends, recounted in a broken tone, “I came onto I don’t know how many (Japanese soldiers), burned from the hips up; and where the skin had peeled, their flesh was wet and mushy. . . . And they had no faces! Their eyes, noses and mouths had been burned away, and it looked like their ears had melted off. It was hard to tell front from back.”19 He explained further of countless bodies along the river, dead from drowning as they tried to get a drink or cool their burns; the thousands of burned corpses filling the roads that led to Hiroshima; the smell everyone who was burned gave off; the pain of having nothing to help them.

Dr. Hachiya, as many of the people of Hiroshima, was a broken man, devoid of hope and spirit: “I found myself accepting whatever was told me with equanimity and a detachment I would have never believed possible. . . . I felt lonely, but it was an animal loneliness. I became part of the darkness of the night. . . .” The second day found Hiroshima a city of broken souls, on the edge of death still clinging to life.

9 August 1945: Nagasaki

Sakue Shimohira was but a little girl of ten years in the fifth grade when the atomic bomb was dropped on Nagasaki. From the beginning of August until the morning of the eighth, Sakue had been living in a bomb shelter with her little sister and nephew as a result of alarms from conventional air attacks. On 8 August, they were able to go home, and when the sirens began the following morning at 7:30, Sakue did not want to leave her mother. But her mother, premonising that a terrible event awaited them, forced Sakue to return to the shelter. Around 8 am on 9 August, Sakue waved good-bye to her mother for the final time. Shortly after arriving at the air-raid shelter, the alarm was canceled, and the little boys in the shelter quickly ran outside to play:

“My sister, nephew and I were playing inside the shelter when there was a sudden, brilliant flash of light. I remember nothing else. We were spared the heat rays generated by the explosion but everything went dark and I fell unconscious. I do not know how much time had elapsed when someone shook me and brought me back to my senses. When my vision cleared, I could not believe the sights before my eyes. People with gruesome wounds were filing into the shelter one after another. They were horribly burned, covered with glass splinters like pin cushions, and so disfigured that it was impossible to distinguish one person from another. . . The stench inside the shelter became so strong that I could hardly breathe.”

After finishing his shift at the factory, Akio Sakita returned home and went to his backyard to do the washing. He heard the drone of airplanes above, but since the air raid alarm had been called off, he assumed that the planes he saw were Japanese planes out on surveillance runs. At that moment, he heard a loud roar in the sky, and as he looked up, “wondering if it had in fact been the enemy, a blinding flash of light filled the sky and my body was showered in a wave of intense heat. I felt a searing pain in my face and threw myself on to the ground with my eyes firmly shut. The rush of heat continued for several seconds. It was like a glimpse into the horror of hell. . . . I had suffered terrible burns all over the upper half of my body.”

Mr. Sumiteru Taniguchi was a sixteen year old postal carrier at the time of the bomb. He was delivering mail on his normal route in Sumiyoshi town when the atomic bomb exploded. “After the sky flashed as lighting I was thrown with a bicycle on the ground when I cam to around my skin on the left arm peeled off and hung down to fingertip, my back and hips were burned and became sore and clothes nearly didn’t remain. . . . I wandered some first-aid stations and finally I was sent to the navy hospital of Omura in November. My half burnt body became rotten discharge and it flowed on the bed I cried ‘Kill Me!’ over and over again.”

Digging holes to avoid the air attack for the Mitsubishi arms, Senji Yamaguchi was fourteen when the atomic bomb exploded over Nagasaki. He fell senseless, and “when I became conscious, I recognized to have fall in a faint in hole with a hoe. Surroundings changed completely and it was hell on earth I waded across the Urkami river and fled toward the hill stepping over dozens of bodies. With no shoes and only briefs, my hands, breast and abdomen were burned black and bulged as others did.”


Immediate medical sequelae of the WTC attack

After the World Trade Center attacks, many patients were reported to have burn injuries. These are likely the effects of the nuclear thermal pulse and fireball. Many victims had injuries that could have resulted from the blast of the nuclear detonations such as fractures. Nearly all the survivors had left the towers by the time before they collapsed. The exceptions were a small group of nineteen survivors called the Stairway B survivors and some rescue workers who were trapped under the rubble of the World Trade Centers.

Proximity to a nuclear explosion will have horrific effects on the human body.

People reported looking behind them as they were fleeing the area of the World Trade Center saw people simply “vanishing” during the sudden collapse of the towers. This is the same phenomenon that occurred in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. In those events, people just disappeared, with no trace of them ever being found. Sometimes all they left was a ‘shadow’. There is a shadow on the steps in front of a bank in Hiroshima of an outline of a woman who was sitting on the steps at the time of the nuclear detonation.

There were many reports of people being flung to the ground near the World Trade Center site at the time of the explosion and collapse of the towers.

The pressure wave of a nuclear explosion creates what is called an overpressure wave. This is the pressure in excess of normal atmospheric pressure. The blast wave of nuclear detonation also creates high-velocity blast winds that cause translational injuries and turns many objects into flying missiles.

Thermal injuries are rare in simple pancaking collapses. Most injuries in these situations would be crush injuries. There would be many recognizable and recoverable bodies and body parts in such events. Many of the bodies would be still intact when recovered. Identification of the vast majority of the victims of building collapses due to earthquake would be feasible.

The gravitational potential energy of collapsing buildings would be insufficient to cause the disintegration of bodies into dust. There was fire in the World Trade Center towers resulting from the plane crashes and the jet-fuel catching fire. However, the fires were confined to only a dozen floors of each of the towers. There were 110 floors in each tower which means the majority of floors in the towers were not on fire. Experts say the fires were almost burned out by the time the collapses occurred. Smoke from the fires in the towers were black by the time the towers started to collapse indicating the fires were almost burned out by that time and had been close to running out of oxygen. There is no indication that the fires spread beyond the dozen floors after the planes first hit. This strongly suggests the jet-fuel fires were responsible for only a tiny proportion of the disintegration of the bodies if any at all. The remains of one thousand victims have still not been recovered. There was another cause present that was responsible for thousands of the victims’ bodies breaking up into such tiny parts making them unidentifiable as human body parts. The cause was the nuclear detonations of the towers with the tremendous output of energy accompanying these detonations, more than sufficient in power to incinerate and blast bodies, leaving minimal traces or no trace of the humans caught up in the devastation.

Shortly before the South Tower collapsed, a firefighter who ascended to the 78th floor of the South Tower where the fire raged reported two pockets of fire remained and that they could be extinguished with (only) two hose lines. The firefighter’s message via radio is captured on tape.

Battalion Seven Chief:

“Battalion Seven (..) Ladder 15, we’ve got two isolated pockets of fire. We should be able to knock it down with two lines. Radio that, 78th floor numerous 10-45 Code Ones.”


His message is evidence that the jet-fuel fires were not severe enough to have caused the collapse of the 110-floor structure of the South Tower. A fire that can be put out with just two hose lines is not a fire that is out of control or of an intensity that can buckle hundreds of tons of steel and smash thousands of tons of concrete into 3 micron-sized particles. Furthermore, the firefighter was able to get close to the fire and reach it just before the collapse of the South Tower. He perished approximately ten minutes after giving this report. It is absurd to imagine that the fires suddenly increased in intensity over the span of some minutes and melted the core of the tower along its length bringing it down, atomizing almost all the contents of the tower and incinerating hundreds of cars at a distance from the tower. The firefighter’s message indicates that the fires were almost under control by the time the collapses occurred.

Here is a video of the South Tower shortly before it collapsed showing the extent of the fire in the tower. As the fireman reported, there are only two pockets of fire visible.

South Tower fire pockets – video

VIDEO: “Ladder 15, we’ve got two isolated pockets of fire. We should be able to knock it down with two lines. Radio that, 78th floor.” (“Isolated_pockets_of_fire”) [Dailymotion | Youtube]

Edna Cintron:

There are pictures and videos of a woman, Edna Cintron, standing near the crash hole of the plane while there is fire above her. A fire of sufficient intensity to weaken hundreds of tons of steel and smash thousands of tons of concrete into dust would have been too hot to allow anyone to stand near it as this person is are doing in the photos and videos.

IMG: http://www.11-septiembre-2001.biz/imagenes/Edna_Cintron_standing_in_WTC1.jpg


IMG: http://www.911pk-gruppen.no/008c%20Treffsonen%20i%20WTC-1.%20Edna%20Cintron%20i%20rektangel%20omkom.jpg


Img: http://www.gnosticliberationfront.com/nt_hole3.jpg

URL: http://www.gnosticliberationfront.com/we_have_some_holes__in_the_plane_stories.htm

Caption: Notice the few small pockets of fires on the same floor as Edna Cintron (95th floor) and a few floors (98th floor) above her. This was the total extent of the fires in the North Tower before the towers suddenly exploded, collapsed and disintegrated. At the time this photo was taken, the fires had died down considerably and the smoke was mostly black showing they were oxygen-starved. Black smoke appears in fires that are petering out. The 98th floor, a few floors above where Edna Cintron was standing, was the floor where the collapse of the North Tower initiated.

Cars parked in the streets near the World Trade Center towers caught fire as well. Some were some distance away from the towers. Many cars in the parking lot on West Street caught fire. The fire had to travel some distance from the towers to reach the parking lot. If the energy given off by the collapse of the buildings could toast cars a hundred meters away the same energy would be able to incinerate people. However, Edna Cintron was standing near the fires unaffected by the fires. Minutes later the same fires caused the disintegration of a thousand people and burned cars in a parking lot some distance away.


Img and URL: http://wirednewyork.com/images/wtc/wtc_nytimes.gif

Caption: Parking lot on West Street to the north-west of the World Trade Center. See how far the fire had to travel to set the cars on fire.

Img: http://www.drjudywood.com/articles/DEW/dewpics/GJS-WTC105_toasted.jpg

URL: http://www.drjudywood.com/articles/dirt/

Caption: Cars on fire in the West Street parking lot northwest of the World Trade Center complex.

Fires that are strong enough to ignite cars some distance away would be strong enough to obliterate people. There are reports of emergency workers finding the bodies of charred people.

“Walcott was also experiencing the noxious effects of the chemical brew. While the massive cloud had dissipated, the crystalline particles hung in the air like speckles in a snow globe. He waded though mounds of pulverized dust, knee-deep, tasting it on his lips, spitting it out of his mouth (..) But he focused on the mission at hand, on the faint hope of discovering survivors. That day, he stepped over the only human body that he would find intact—a female, burned beyond recognition, a charred bra over her face.” (REF=http://www.villagevoice.com/news/0648,lombardi,75156,2.html)

However, the main feature of the human casualty of the World Trade Center attacks is the paucity of the remains of victims that were found. The people that did not escape the World Trade Center towers in time were incinerated by the thermal pulse of the nuclear explosions and instantly turned into dust. They were ‘vaporized’. A thousand people were never identified. No body parts of those people were ever found. These people simply vanished when the towers exploded. They were consumed in the heat generated by the fireball which reaches millions of degrees Centigrade in a millisecond or were blasted into tiny particles by the force of the nuclear explosions.

Some fires at the World Trade Center site lasted for 3 months. Workers found molten steel at the site. In a video, a firefighter reports seeing rivulets of molten steel running in channels (REF=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hj0vq69jmSo). It was as if he was working in a foundry. Nuclear detonations can produce fires of great intensity that last for a protracted length of time and are difficult to put out. Witness the disaster at Chernobyl in which the reactor melted down and the explosion that blew off the roof of the reactor. The ensuing fire lasted eight days. The fire was so intense that it created a “lava” of sand and reactor-material fused together. Strange forms of concrete fused with metal, glass and other materials appeared after the World Trade Center attacks.

The amount of ash and soot at Ground Zero and the lack of recognizable objects in the debris of the World Trade Center indicate that some event that produced a great release of energy had taken place. Gravity collapses do not produce energy of this sort of magnitude. Gravity collapses and crushes objects but does not pulverize. A relatively small fire that is on its way out and emits much black smoke and is cool enough to stand fifteen feet under it does not reduce everything to dust in a matter of seconds. On the other hand, one can easily imagine a nuclear explosion doing that and causing such complete destruction of matter that finding something the size of a plastic bank card was like finding a “needle in a haystack”.

Patricia Ondrovic (emergency medical technician): “Everything was this sort of gray/black debris. I personally never saw anything definable like a chair, desk, or phone, but I never went into what was the base of the building itself, there could have been there. I remember everything being layered in grey soot and ashes everywhere and just debris. One thing I remember distinctly was on a corner adjacent to the towers a bike messenger’s bicycle still chained to the lamppost covered in soot.” (REF=http://killtown.blogspot.com/2006/02/911-rescuer-saw-explosions-inside-wtc.html)

Almost a third of the victims of the World Trade Center attacks were vaporized. More than a thousand victims were never identified. Only two hundred intact bodies were found in this disaster.


Lack of identification of many bodies

In a pancake collapse, disintegration of bodies into fine dust does not occur, even in buildings that are a few stories high. More than 1100 people killed at the WTC have not been identified (REF=http://911research.wtc7.net/wtc/evidence/bodies.html). Identification these days is performed by DNA testing. Body parts as small as a fingernail or a bone fragment can be used to identify a person. Even the cells left on a steering wheel or a van and the hairs left on a hair brush can be used to identify someone. These were the clues the alleged terrorists left behind supposedly. The evidence is not conclusive that the Arab terror ring was responsible for the attacks as cells from skin and hair can be transferred to objects. (REF=http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/americas/2808599.stm) . Virtual disappearance of people only happens in explosions or fires. Authorities claim the collapses of the World Trade Center towers were gravity collapses, and that people perished because they were crushed to death in the pancaking. The official explanation does not fit the findings of vanished people.

(REF= 9/11 research – show table – http://911research.wtc7.net/wtc/evidence/bodies.html)

Even in the worst bombing by Northern Ireland activists, there were body parts to be found (REF).

In Iraq, there are many body parts left behind and pools of blood even when the bomb is powerful enough to kill thousands. (PICTURES).

In Hiroshima, there were reports of people disappearing leaving only their shadows behind. (REF=http://users.dickinson.edu/%7Ehistory/product/steele/seniorthesis.htm)

Any object within a two kilometer distance from the hypocenter suffered significant burn damage, and those located near the hypocenter were instantaneously vaporized. The Shima hospital, the hypocenter of the atomic bomb was vaporized, along with all her patients.

The only reminder that some people existed were the shadows left on the walls. The intense light acted like a flashbulb and burned a shadow onto the walls. (REF=http://www.icpj.net/dwg/shadow.htm – DEAD URL)



Hiroshima (August 6, 1945)
Events: Dawn of the Atomic Era, 1945

In the early morning hours of August 6, 1945, a B-29 bomber named Enola Gay took off from the island of Tinian and headed north by northwest toward Japan. The bomber’s primary target was the city of Hiroshima, located on the deltas of southwestern Honshu Island facing the Inland Sea. Hiroshima had a civilian population of almost 300,000 and was an important military center, containing about 43,000 soldiers.

Little Boy at Tinian Island, August 1945The bomber, piloted by the commander of the 509th Composite Group, Colonel Paul Tibbets, flew at low altitude on automatic pilot before climbing to 31,000 feet as it neared the target area. At approximately 8:15 a.m. Hiroshima time the Enola Gay released “Little Boy,” its 9,700-pound uranium bomb, over the city. Tibbets immediately dove away to avoid the anticipated shock wave. Forty-three seconds later, a huge explosion lit the morning sky as Little Boy detonated 1,900 feet above the city, directly over a parade field where soldiers of the Japanese Second Army were doing calisthenics. Though already eleven and a half miles away, the Enola Gay was rocked by the blast. At first, Tibbets thought he was taking flak. After a secondEnola Gay returning from Hiroshima mission, Tinian Field, August 6, 1945 shock wave (reflected from the ground) hit the plane, the crew looked back at Hiroshima. “The city was hidden by that awful cloud . . . boiling up, mushrooming, terrible and incredibly tall,” Tibbets recalled. The yield of the explosion was later estimated at 15 kilotons (the equivalent of 15,000 tons of TNT).

On the ground moments before the blast it was a calm and sunny Monday morning. An air raid alert from earlier that morning had been called off after only a solitary aircraft was seen (the weather plane), and by 8:15 the city was alive with activity — soldiers doing their morning calisthenics, commuters on foot or on bicycles, groups of women and children working outside to clear firebreaks. Those closest to the explosion died instantly,Victim of atomic attack with the pattern of her clothing burned into her back. their bodies turned to black char. Nearby birds burst into flames in mid-air, and dry, combustible materials such as paper instantly ignited as far away as 6,400 feet from ground zero. The white light acted as a giant flashbulb, burning the dark patterns of clothing onto skin (right) and the shadows of bodies onto walls. Survivors outdoors close to the blast generally describe a literally blinding light combined with a sudden and overwhelming wave of heat. (The effects of radiation are usually not immediately apparent.) The blast wave followed almost instantly for those close-in, often knocking them from their feet. Those that were indoors were usually spared the flash burns, but flying glass from broken windows filled most rooms, and all but the very strongest structures collapsed. One boy was blown through the windows of his house and across the street as the house collapsed behind him. Within minutes 9 out of 10 people half a mile or less from ground zero were dead.

Before and After aerial photographs of HiroshimaPeople farther from the point of detonation experienced first the flash and heat, followed seconds later by a deafening boom and the blast wave. Nearly every structure within one mile of ground zero was destroyed, and almost every building within three miles was damaged. Less than 10 percent of the buildings in the city survived without any damage, and the blast wave shattered glass in suburbs twelve miles away. The most common first reaction of those that were indoors even miles from ground zero was that their building had just suffered a direct hit by a bomb. Small ad hoc rescue parties soon began to operate, but roughly half of the city’s population was dead or injured. In those areas most seriously affected virtuallyHiroshima mushroom cloud (picture taken from the ground) no one escaped serious injury. The numerous small fires that erupted simultaneously all around the city soon merged into one large firestorm, creating extremely strong winds that blew towards the center of the fire. The firestorm eventually engulfed 4.4 square miles of the city, killing anyone who had not escaped in the first minutes after the attack. One postwar study of the victims of Hiroshima found that less than 4.5 percent of survivors suffered leg fractures. Such injuries were not uncommon; it was just that most who could not walk were engulfed by the firestorm.

Even after the flames had subsided, relief from the outside was slow in coming. For hours after the attack the Japanese government did not even know for sure what had happened. Radio and telegraph communications with Hiroshima had suddenly ended at 8:16 a.m., and vague reports of some sort of large explosion had begun to filter in, but the Japanese high command knew that no large-scale air raid had taken place over the city and that there were no large stores of explosives there. Eventually a Japanese staff officer was dispatched by plane to survey the city from overhead, and while he was still nearly 100 miles away from the city he began to report on a huge cloud of smoke that hung over it. The first confirmation of exactly what had happened came only sixteen hours later with the announcement of the bombing by theCasualties in a makeshift hospital, Hiroshima United States. Relief workers from outside the city eventually began to arrive and the situation stabilized somewhat. Power in undamaged areas of the city was even restored on August 7th, with limited rail service resuming the following day. Several days after the blast, however, medical staff began to recognize the first symptoms of radiation sickness among the survivors. Soon the death rate actually began to climb again as patients who had appeared to be recovering began suffering from this strange new illness. Deaths from radiation sickness did not peak until three to four weeks after the attacks and did not taper off until seven to eight weeks after the attack. Long-range health dangers associated with radiation exposure, such as an increased danger of cancer, would linger for the rest of the victims’ lives, as would the psychological effects of the attack.

A soldier walks through a leveled portion of Hiroshima.No one will ever know for certain how many died as a result of the attack on Hiroshima. Some 70,000 people probably died as a result of initial blast, heat, and radiation effects. This included about twenty American airmen being held as prisoners in the city. By the end of 1945, because of the lingering effects of radioactive fallout and other after effects, the Hiroshima death toll was probably over 100,000. The five-year death total may have reached or even exceeded 200,000, as cancer and other long-term effects took hold.

At 11:00 a.m., August 6 (Washington D.C. time), radio stations began playing a prepared statement from President Truman (right) informing thePresident Harry S. Truman, November 1945 American public that the United States had dropped an entirely new type of bomb on the Japanese city of Hiroshima — an “atomic bomb.” Truman warned that if Japan still refused to surrender unconditionally, as demanded by the Potsdam Declaration of July 26, the United States would attack additional targets with equally devastating results. Two days later, on August 8, the Soviet Union declared war on Japan and attacked Japanese forces in Manchuria, ending American hopes that the war would end before Russian entry into the Pacific theater. By August 9th, American aircraft were showering leaflets all over Japan informing its people that “We are in possession of the most destructive explosive ever devised by man. A single one of our newly developed atomic bombs is actually the equivalent in explosive power to what 2,000 of our giant B-29s can carry on a single mission. This awful fact is one for you to ponder and we solemnly assureFat Man at Tinian Island, August 1945 you it is grimly accurate. We have just begun to to use this weapon against your homeland. If you still have any doubt, make inquiry as to what happened to Hiroshima when just one atomic bomb fell on that city.” Meanwhile, Tibbets’s bomber group was simply waiting for the weather to clear in order to drop its next bomb, the plutonium weapon nicknamed “Fat Man” (right) that was destined for the city of Nagasaki.


Dust filled the air in Hiroshima and Nagasaki like the dust filling the air after the 9/11 World Trade Center attacks. Huge dust clouds rapidly filled the atmosphere in the bombings of the Japanese cities. Pictures show the extent of the smoke clouds that formed in the wake of the nuclear explosions.

It became pitch-dark due to the thick pyroclastic dust cloud even though it was daytime (about 8am). Pictures taken of the pyroclastic dust clouds of Hiroshima.

“When I came to myself and looked around, the city which had flashed up was pitch dark with a cloud of dust hanging over. I couldn’t see an inch ahead though I strained my eyes.” (REF=http://www.hiroshima-spirit.jp/en/quiz/q_a_03.html)

“(T)he first blast was soon followed by the sounds of falling buildings and of growing fires, and a great cloud of dust and smoke began to cast a pall of darkness over the city.” (REF=http://www.atomicarchive.com/Docs/MED/med_chp6.shtml)

Compare this to the aftermath of the World Trade Center attacks after the towers had collapsed. Huge rolling clouds filled the air above Manhattan producing darkness and turning day into night.


Atomic cloud – mushroom cloud

”An atomic cloud was created by the sudden extraordinary turbulence right after the explosion and it was lifted up in the rising current.
A U.S. Forces observing plane reported that five minutes after the bombing a massive gray cloud about 5 kilometers in diameter was hanging over the center of the city. The mushroom cloud rapidly grew into a gigantic pillar of rolling white smoke, and soon it reached an altitude of about 17,000 meters, spreading out wide at its top. Four hours after the bombing, a photo-reconnaissance plane flew over Hiroshima and reported that the whole city was still so thickly covered with the cloud of smoke that all they could see were scraps of flames around its edges.
” (REF=http://www.chugoku-np.co.jp/abom/97abom/peace/e/05/kinoko.htm)


Radiation effects at the WTC – attenuating factors

Radiation injuries in the World Trade Center attacks were overshadowed by the other injuries. There are several reasons why radiation was overlooked as the cause of morbidity and mortality in people exposed to radiation from the nuclear explosions that occurred at the World Trade Center.

1) People close to the World Trade Center at the time of attack would have received doses of radiation that would have provem to be rapidly fatal unless they had been shielded by some barrier of some kind. Some survived the World Trade Center attacks by being encased in the debris. The debris acted as a shield to protect the survivors from the blast, thermal and radiation effects of the nuclear detonations. Examples of these survivors are the Staircase B survivors who were buried by building debris as the tower collapsed. William Rodriguez, a worker at the WTC and who is credited as being the last person to leave the North Tower, managed to survive by diving under a truck as the tower collapsed. Two people were rescued two days after the World Trade Center attacks. They were pulled from the rubble they were buried under.

2) Radiation injuries may be mistaken for other injuries as there is considerable overlap of symptoms and signs of radiation injuries and other kinds of injuries. (Give examples and ref)

3) Radiation injuries may not show up until after a latent period. This might mean that
a) the injuries may get mistaken for something else as there is overlap in the clinical presentation of radiation injuries and other types of injuries seen in a nuclear attack.
b) the person dies of complications of other types of injuries before the radiation injuries are picked up clinically

4) Other etiologic agents can mimic radiation injuries such as chemical toxins and these may be incorrectly attributed as the cause of radiation injuries. Many physicians blame toxins such as benzene as the cause of the cancers found in World Trade Center survivors and rescue and recovery workers. (REF).

(Radiation table)


Cancer is a longterm sequelae of radiation injury. The cancers that are occurring in 9/11 workers who were exposed to radiation are the same type seen in Nagasaki and Hiroshima victims. There is a high incidence of blood-cell cancers. The frequency of these cancers outstrips the rate of these cancers in the general population.

For example 1 in 150,000 white males under 40 get lymphoma. We are seeing a rate of 150 in 150,000 WTC workers getting this cancer.

Like Hiroshima and Nagasaki, people are getting cancer very early after exposure. Blood cell cancer rates are extraordinarily high just five years after exposure. Normally cancers take decades to develop. The reasons why cancers are showing up so quickly are two-fold:

1) The cancers that are appearing are the ones with a short latency period like blood cell cancers. (REF) This is why leukemia is considered a sentinel disease for radiation exposure. (REF) It is one of the first cancers to appear in people exposed to radiation such as in atomic-bombings or nuclear accidents like Chernobyl, and the incidences between those affected by radiation and those unexposed to radiation show a large gap (REF)

2) Radiation has a promotional effect on already existing cancers. The development of these pre-existing cancers has been sped up by the effect of radiation. If there had been no promotional effect, these cancers would have taken much longer to show up. In any population, there are is a certain number of people with pre-existing cancers of which they show no clinical signs of. Exposure to radiation will bring cancer in these people to the fore by shortening their latency period. (REF)

Some of the blood-cell cancers that are appearing are strange and unusual. For example, myeloma is a cancer that does not usually affect the young, it is a disease that usually strikes the elderly only. But in the case of WTC workers, the disease is appearing in those under age 60 like this man (GIVE REFERENCE WITH EXAMPLE)

The spike in blood cell cancers is being followed by an increased incidence of solid cancers such as lung, breast, brain, thyroid, and testicular cancers.

This attorney who is looking after the cases of some 8,500 WTC workers in a suit against the city of New York for failing to adequately protect workers, has a dossier of the cancers. (REF and list cancers).

It seems that there is a 9/11-associated cancer cluster that is remarkably like the cluster of cancer in Hiroshima and Nagasaki victims.