DOE Openness: Human Radiation Experiments: Roadmap to the Project
(1) Los Alamos was a key research and development center for the secret effort during World War II to create the first atomic bomb, the Manhattan Project. Subsequently, as a National Laboratory of the Department of Energy and its predecessors, Los Alamos has been a research and development center for nuclear weapon designs, high-energy physics research, and other scientific endeavors.
(2) Formed in a May 1947 reorganization, the "H" or Health Division had responsibility for a much broader range of health activities than its predecessor, the Health Group (Group A-10). These responsibilities included radiological safety, health physics, and industrial health. The H Division also monitored exposures and was responsible for safety for all weapons tests conducted by the Laboratory.
(3) analysis of urine or feces
(4) analysis of radionuclides in the urine or feces
(5) a fissionable transuranium (synthetic) element. Pure plutonium is a silvery metal that is heavier than lead and is used as a critical component in nuclear weapons. The first atomic bomb, detonated at Alamogordo, New Mexico, July 16, 1945, and the atomic bomb detonated over Nagasaki, Japan, August 9, 1945, were plutonium weapons. Because plutonium is highly toxic, concern developed early in the Manhattan Project about its potential health effects on workers involved in machining, chemically processing, and handling the material.
(6) Metallurgical Laboratory, the laboratory set up at the University of Chicago during World War II to lead the secret research and development of controlled nuclear fission under the Manhattan Project. In particular, the Met Lab was responsible for the design of reactor facilities to make plutonium and development of methods for chemical separation of uranium, plutonium, and fission products from irradiated nuclear fuels.
(7) a chemical extraction procedure using organic solvents to extract plutonium from a dissolved ash solution
(8) Langham, regarded at the time as "Mr. Plutonium," led the Health Division's Radiobiology group from 1947 until his death in 1972.
(9) samples of urine or feces to which is added a known amount of plutonium to test the efficiency of plutonium recovery during the bioassay analysis process
(10) A milligram is one-thousandth of a gram; there are about 28.35 grams in one troy ounce.
(11) Dr. Joseph Kennedy, Ph.D., U.S. chemist. After working with Dr. Glenn Seaborg at the University of California, Berkeley, prior to World War II, Kennedy was chosen by J. Robert Oppenheimer to lead the Chemistry Division of the Manhattan Project. After the war, Kennedy taught at Washington University in St. Louis.
(12) U.S. chemist, born 1912, professor of chemistry at the University of California, Berkeley, discoverer of several heavy elements and Nobel Prize recipient in 1952. Served as Chairman of the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission.
(13) University of California, Berkeley, site of groundbreaking early research in nuclear science and location of Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory
(14) Dr. Arthur Charles Wahl, Ph.D., U.S. chemist. Codiscoverer of plutonium with Glenn Seaborg. Worked in the Manhattan Project in World War II, then taught at Washington University in St. Louis.
(15) a group leader in the Health Division at Los Alamos Scientific Laboratory from 1943 to 1947, and led the division from 1946 to 1948. An expert in radiology and radiobiology, Hempelmann served in the Atomic Energy Commission from 1948 to 1950, then joined the faculty of the University of Rochester.
(16) J. Robert Oppenheimer, U.S. nuclear physicist (190467) who was chosen by General Leslie Groves to direct the development and construction of the atomic bombs at Los Alamos
(17) J. Robert Oppenheimer, U.S. nuclear physicist (190467) who was chosen by General Leslie Groves to direct the development and construction of the atomic bombs at Los Alamos
(18) an M.D. who worked at Crocker Laboratory, then the site of a 60-inch cyclotron that he operated to produce radioisotopes in support of research and some medical diagnosis and treatment. Crocker was part of the Lawrence Radiation Laboratory, later renamed Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory.
(19) therapy of cancer using an accelerator to produce a neutron beam of radiation
(20) an accelerator in which particles move in spiral paths in a constant magnetic field
(21) Seaborg was a meticulous diarist whose detailed records have been edited and supplied with accompanying notes by a professional scientist and two professional historians of science. See Ronald L. Kathren, Jerry B. Gough, and Gary T. Benefiel, eds.; The Plutonium Story: The Journals of Professor Glenn T. Seaborg, 19391946; Columbus, Ohio: Battelle Press; 1994; ISBN 0-935470-75-1; 920 pages. The book presents Seaborg's account of the discovery of plutonium and the urgent activities to unlock its secrets and enhance its productivity to the levels needed to build an atomic bomb. It provides a step-by-step description of the scientific activities and the thought processes of Seaborg and his team throughout the war years and provides insight into the operation of the Manhattan District and of the scientists who played an important role in its functions.
(22) A pioneer in radiation therapy, Robert Stone, M.D., had conducted human radiation studies before World War II. He was an early researcher at the Lawrence Radiation Laboratory and became a major figure in radiobiology research. In 1942, while chairing the Department of Radiology at UC San Francisco's medical school, Stone was recruited to lead the Medical Division of the Manhattan Project, overseeing all biological, medical, and radiological protection research. Accordingly, he moved to the University of Chicago, where he served as Associate Director for Health under Arthur Compton. In the 1950's, after serving in the Atomic Energy Commission, Stone returned to his post at UCSF as head of the Department of Radiology. Under Stone, UCSF acquired a 70-MeV synchrotron for conducting therapeutic research.
(23) Dr. John Lawrence was Director of the Division of Medical Physics at the University of California, Berkeley. He operated a clinic at Donner Laboratory, where he treated leukemia and polycythemia vera patients with radioactive phosphorus.
(24) U.S. physicist, 190158; a pioneer in nuclear physics who built and operated (with M. Stanley Livingston and Milton White) the first cyclotron in 1930 on the Berkeley campus of the University of California; established the University of California Radiation Laboratory in 1936 and served as its director until his death. His ingenuity and drive made the Berkeley-based Radiation Laboratory a center of nuclear physics in the United States.
(25) Plutonium first became available at Los Alamos in small quantities for biological testing and chemistry studies in January 1944; large amounts were available in 1945 from Hanford for the first atomic weapons.
(26) Dr. George M. Voelz, M.D., conducted health studies of the Manhattan Engineer District plutonium workers, inhalation studies of radiation workers, and environmental surveys of various Department of Energy sites. He was at Los Alamos from 1951 to 1957 and served as Idaho Operations Officer for the AEC from 1957 to 1963. See DOE/EH-0454, Human Radiation Studies: Remembering the Early Years; Oral History of Dr. George Voelz, M.D. (May 1995).
(27) abbreviation meaning "very important person"
(28) conversion of plutonium ore to a metallic state by driving off nonmetallic elements; smelting
(29) Since 1965, Battelle Memorial Institute, headquartered in Columbus, Ohio, has operated the Pacific Northwest Laboratory in Richland, Washington, for the U.S. Department of Energy.
(30) the Department of Energy's 520-square-mile former site for plutonium production, located near Richland, Washington
(31) the addition of too much plutonium to urine and fecal samples, leading to low-level contamination of laboratory equipment
(32) On January 17, 1966, a U.S. Air Force B-52 bomber and a KC-135 tanker plane collided while attempting an aerial refueling at 30,000 feet over the Mediterranean Coast of Spain. The B-52 was carrying four thermonuclear weapons on an "airborne alert" mission (then a routine practice). The four bombs fell to earth. One landed in a dry riverbed, from which it was recovered intact; another landed in the sea. The high-explosive trigger on each of the other two bombs detonated. Their safety devices performed as designed and prevented a nuclear explosion; however, the nuclear materials package in each bomb was blown apart by the chemical explosion. Plutonium was scattered over the village of Palomares and surrounding farmland. A massive joint effort by the United States and Spain was initiated to decontaminate the land area affected, and the U.S. Navy successfully recovered the bomb lost at sea after an intensive search. The decontamination effort included monitoring the population affected for exposure to radiation.
(33) a professor of Radiology at the University of Rochester (Rochester, New York), site of research involving plutonium and human subjects. Dr. Warren worked on the Manhattan Project in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, as head of the medical section and headed an Intramedical Advisory Committee. After World War II, Dr. Warren became dean of the University of California, Los Angeles, Medical School.
(34) a radioactive metallic element, chemically similar to tellurium and bismuth, that emits an alpha particle (a helium atom) to form an isotope of lead
(35) The event and the circumstances leading to it are described by Karl Morgan under "Plutonium Injection Studies at an Oak Ridge Military Hospital (1945)" in his oral history transcript (DOE/EH-0475, June 1995).
(36) For the transcript of the January 28, 1995 interview with Friedell, see DOE/EH-0466, Human Radiation Studies: Remembering the Early Years; Oral History of Radiologist Hymer L. Friedell, M.D., Ph.D. (July 1995).
(37) Nuclear Track Alpha, a method developed by Jack Healy for plutonium measurements
(38) Langham power function curve: Yu=0.23X-0.77, where Yu = percent of injected amount per day, X = time post-injection (days)
(39) the short title for a Los Alamos report on results of research involving injection of plutonium into human subjects: W.H. Langham, S.H. Bassett, P.S. Harris and R.E. Carter, "Distribution and Excretion of Plutonium Administered Intravenously to Man." Los Alamos: Los Alamos Scientific Laboratory, LA-1151, 1950; reprinted in Health Physics. Vol. 38, No. 6, 1980, pp. 103160.
(40) William P. Norris, division of Biological and Medical Research, Argonne National Laboratory. He reviewed measurements made on Elgin State Hospital patients, and also analyzed some original radium injection solutions to determine the amount of radium administered to patients.
(41) John Rundo, "The Late Excretion of Plutonium Following Acquisition of the Known Amounts," Actinides in Man and Animals, 1979.
(42) the Snowbird (Utah) conference on Actinides in Man and Animals, October 1517, 1979. Proceedings edited by M.E. Wrenn, published by the RD Press, Salt Lake City, Utah. Rundo's aforementioned paper (ibid.) appears in the proceedings.
(43) plutonium-238 alpha-emitter standards (precisely known amounts) from the National Bureau of Standards, since 1988 called the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), in Gaithersburg, Maryland
(44) Moss is referring to the group assigned at LANL to respond to Secretary O'Leary's Openness Initiative on human radiation experimentation and conduct a comprehensive review of documents and records at LANL.
(45) Dr. Patricia Wallace Durbin worked as a chemist and radiobiologist at the Crocker Laboratory of the Lawrence Radiation Laboratory (now Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory) from 1951 to 1977. See DOE/EH-0458, Human Radiation Studies: Remembering the Early Years; Oral History of Dr. Patricia Wallace Durbin, Ph.D. (June 1995)
(46) a part that forms a known fraction of a whole and constitutes a sample for chemical analysis
(47) They composited two daily urine samples (into one).
(48) one standard deviation (plus and minus values) of the mean when results for several subjects are plotted together, from which a model was or is developed
(49) See "Plutonium Injection Studies at an Oak Ridge Military Hospital (1945)" in DOE/EH-0475, Human Radiation Studies: Remembering the Early Years; Oral History of Health Physicist Karl Z. Morgan, Ph.D. (June 1995).
(50) also referred to as "Cal-1," one of the original 18 people injected with plutonium during the Manhattan Project. Although assessed to be terminally ill at the time, several of the people injected lived for an extended period. Cal-1 lived for 20 years after the plutonium injection. See "Reanalyzing the Human Plutonium Injection Studies" in DOE/EH-0458, Human Radiation Studies: Remembering the Early Years; Oral History of Dr. Patricia Wallace Durbin, Ph.D. (July 1995).
(51) workers with occupational exposures at LANL; sometimes tissues were obtained from recently deceased workers for radioanalysis to determine residual radionuclide content in selected organs.
(52) an apparatus that measures radionuclides in man using shielded detectors and multichannel energy analyzers. HUMCO-I was the first whole-body radiation counter that became operational at Los Alamos National Laboratory in 1956. The sensitivity and non-invasive nature of this instrument permitted studies at levels 10 to 100 times below established limits of exposure. It opened an entire area of clinical diagnosis and the development of new diagnostic methods. See DOE/EH-0453, Human Radiation Studies: Remembering the Early Years; Oral History of Pathologist Clarence Lushbaugh, M.D. (April 1995).
(53) Harry Foreman, M.D., came to the Health Division at Los Alamos from Dr. Joseph Hamilton's group at Crocker Laboratory in Berkeley, California. In the Health Division, Foreman conducted most of the research in use of chelating agents to try to accelerate removal of heavy metals, such as plutonium, from the bloodstream and soft tissue.
(54) the use of a substance that removes heavy metals from the body fluids and carries them to excretion (urine)
(55) Dr. Clarence C. Lushbaugh, M.D., Ph.D., was a staff member of the Biomedical Research Group at Los Alamos National Laboratory from 1949 to 1963. Chief Scientist of the Medical and Health Sciences Division at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, 1963 to 1975, and Chairman of the Medical and Health Sciences Division at Oak Ridge, 1975 to 1984. For the transcript of the interview with Dr. Lushbaugh, See DOE/EH-0453, Human Radiation Studies: Remembering the Early Years; Oral History of Pathologist Clarence Lushbaugh, M.D. (April 1995).
(56) a physician who studies the study of the origin, nature, and course of diseases
(57) Oral Epley was one of several workers exposed to radiation in an accident at the Nevada Test Site in 1956. He died three days after the accident.
(58) the site where most nuclear weapon tests within the Continental United States were conducted
(59) a worker at Los Alamos who died in a radiation accident, December 30, 1958. For details, see "Investigation of Radiological Accidents" in the Lushbaugh transcript (DOE/EH-0453, April 1995) and "Radiation Studies Resulting from a 1958 Los Alamos Criticality Accident" in DOE/EH-0477, Human Radiation Studies, Remembering the Early Years: Oral History of Radiologist Chet Richmond, Ph.D. (August 1995).
(60) one billionth part of a curie. A curie represents 37 billion radioactive decays per second.
(61) In 1967 the AEC contracted with the Hanford Environmental Health Foundation (HEHF) in Richland, Washington for a National Plutonium Registry. In 1970 the name was changed to U.S. Transuranium Registry (USTR). USTR's function was to study postmortem tissues from exposed workers to determine the pattern of distribution, concentration, and retention of transuranic elements. The USTR currently is operated by Washington State University.
(62) Ron Kathren is the current director of the U.S. Transuranium Registry.
(63) Jim McInroy was a chemist (now retired) at LANL.
(64) Human Subject Project Team, Los Alamos National Laboratory
(65) relating to the functions and activities of living organisms and their parts
(66) Evan Campbell, section leader in Industrial Hygiene (H-5), responsible for the bioassay program; Dr. Campbell died in 1989.
(67) From 1955 to 1958, Richmond was an assistant, and then a staff member, at Los Alamos Scientific Laboratory. In 1958, Dr. Richmond was appointed to the staff of the Atomic Energy CommissionDivision of Biology and Medicine in Washington, DC, where he remained until returning to Los Alamos in 1971 to head the Biomedical Research Group. In 1974, he was appointed Associate Laboratory Director for Biomedical and Environmental Sciences at Oak Ridge National Laboratory. Dr. Richmond retired in 1995. For the transcript of the January 24, 1995 interview with Richmond, see DOE/EH-0477, Human Radiation Studies: Remembering the Early Years; Oral History of Radiobiologist Chet Richmond, Ph.D. (August 1995).
(68) radioactive substances that emit helium nuclei during decay, possibly causing tissue damage if ingested or inhaled
(69) atomic nuclei that emit gamma rays, a highly penetrating photon of high frequency, usually 1019 Hz or more
(70) Patients at the Elgin State Hospital in Elgin, Illinois, were injected with radium as an experimental treatment for mental illness, apparently in the period 1931 to 1933. The experiment predates by nearly a decade the creation of the Manhattan Project, the Atomic Energy Commission, and its successor agencies. According to Dr. Robert Rowland, the radium may have been supplied by an organization called the U.S. Radium Extension Service. In the late 1940s, Dr. William Norris, at Argonne National Laboratory, with the help of colleagues, traced the whereabouts of some patients from this study and extracted information from encoded notes left from the original project. By combining measurements taken from these individuals with the notes, Dr. Norris developed a theory of radium retention by the human body. See ANL-1 in DOE/EH-0491, Human Radiation Experiments Associated with the U.S. Department of Energy and Its Predecessors (July 1995), p. 5. See also DOE/EH-0461, Human Radiation Studies: Remembering the Early Years; Oral History of Biophysicist Robert Edmund Rowland, Ph.D. (June 1995), pp. 312.
(71) By examining data plotted on nonlinear "log paper," researchers can discover numerical patterns or trends that would elude them if the data were plotted on linear graph paper.
(72) Dr. Petersen has worked as a cell biologist at Los Alamos since 1956, originally in Group H-4, Radiobiology (later renamed Bio-Medical Research), led by Wright Langham. From 1964 to 1981, he served successively as the Cell Biology Section Leader and Group Leader, Alternate Health Division Leader, and Acting Life Sciences Division Leader. Since 1981 he has been the Program Manager for the Chemical and Biological Program. See DOE/EH-0460, Human Radiation Studies: Remembering the Early Years; Oral History of Cell Biologist Don Francis Petersen, Ph.D. (August 1995)