DOE Openness: Human Radiation Experiments: Roadmap to the Project
2In the early '30s at MIT, Evans investigated the bioeffects of radium on dial painters in New Jersey and Connecticut. By 1941, Evans with others had set the first standards for a tolerance level for radium in the human body. The first "tolerance level" for radium was set at 0.1 microgram body burden: Evans judged that there would be no bone cancers below 0.1 microgram 226Ra in the skeleton. Later he served on the AEC's Committee on Isotope Distribution. At a 1967 symposium, he proposed that the AEC establish a National Center for Human Radiobiology so the AEC could follow up and combine all the radium cases being studied at MIT, Argonne National Laboratory, and elsewhere. On September 1, 1969, the center opened at Argonne, headed by Robert E. Rowland; Evans maintained a satellite office at MIT. In the early 1990s, Evans's pioneering basic research earned him the Department of Energy's Fermi Award.
3M. Stanley Livingston, Ph.D. (born 1905), a physicist and research associate at the University of California, Berkeley (193134). Livingston later served as a professor of physics at MIT (193870). He figured prominently in the design of high-energy particle accelerators.
4U.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.
7See OT-46, "Early Studies of Iron Metabolism in Red Blood Cells Using Iron-55 and Iron-59," in Human Radiation Experiments Associated with the U.S. Department of Energy and Its Predecessors (213 pages), DOE/EH-0491, July 1995 (hereafter called the Experiment List). Ref: W.C. Peacock, R.D. Evans, et al.; "The Use of Two Radioactive Isotopes of Iron in Tracer Studies of Erythrocytes"; Journal of Clinical Investigation 25(4):60515; 1946.
10a radioactive, luminous white, metallic element that occurs in very small quantities in combination with minerals. Radium emits alpha particles and gamma rays to form radon gas. Radium has been used in luminous surface materials, such as the numbers on watch faces, and used in treating cancer.
14Established by an executive order June 28, 1941six days after German troops invaded the Soviet Union. The OSRD's Director reported directly to the President and could invoke the prestige of the White House when dealing with other Federal agencies.
15Bush, president of the Carnegie Foundation, acted as a point man in persuading the Roosevelt administration to set up a national science organization, the National Defense Research Committee, which he went on to head.
16RadarRadio detecting and rangingwas a key development that allowed the Allies to detect and track hostile airplanes by measuring the direction of reflected radio waves and timing their return. Its development and use remained highly classified until after the war.
22Phytates are biomolecular salts or esters of phytic acid, C6H6(OPO3H2)6, obtained from plant seeds or tubers. They bind to certain alkaline earth materials, such as calcium. This binding inhibits gastrointestinal absorption of the materials so that they are excreted without being taken up into blood and utilized nutritionally.
25an instrument that measures luminous intensity or brightness, luminous flux, light distribution, color, etc., usually by comparing the light emitted by two sources, one source having certain specified standard characteristics
27See OT-57, "Red Blood-Cell Volumes and Hematocrit in Normal Pregnancy Using Iron-55," in the Experiment List, which cites the following two references: W.L. Caton, C.C. Roby, D.E. Reid, and J.G. Gibson II, "Plasma Volume and Extravascular Fluid Volume During Pregnancy and the Puerperium," American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology 57:471481, 1949; and W.L. Caton et al., "The Circulating Red Cell Volume and Body Hematocrit in Normal Pregnancy and the Puerperium," American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology 61(6):12071217, 1951.
28A millirem is one-thousandth of a rem. A rem is a unit of radiation dose equivalent, or "rads times the quality factor, Q." The limits for occupational exposure of workers to radiation range from 2 to 5 rem per year for most countries.
30The Roentgen was extended to the new concept of REP (Roentgen Equivalent Physical), a measure of absorbed dose to tissue after exposure to an external source of x- or gamma rays; it is now called the "rad" or "gray."
35The first whole-body radiation counter, HUMCO I, became operational at Los Alamos National Laboratory in 1956. The sensitivity and noninvasive 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.
37In the United States, an individual's exposure to background radiation averages about 350 millirem per year; the amount will vary with elevation and other factors. Daily fluctuations in the background occur proportionately with the amount of cosmic radiation striking the earth.
42See H.S. Martland, "Occupational Poisoning in the Manufacture of Luminous Watch Dials," Journal of the American Medical Association 92:466473, 1929; and R.M. Macklis, "Radiothor and the Era of Mild Radium Therapy," Journal of the American Medical Association 264:614618, 1990.
45In the early to mid-1950s, various radiation-related studies were carried out at the Fernald State School in Waverly, Massachusetts, using mentally deficient students as subjects. In a study addressing calcium metabolism, nine adolescent males, institutionalized for mental inadequacy but otherwise physically normal, ranging in age from 10 to 15 years, and one 21-year-old male participated as subjects. A second study addressed thyroid function in Down's syndrome subjects and their parents. Twenty-one male and female Down's syndrome students ranging in age from 5 to 26 years participated, as did 5 female and 2 male normal parents of these students. These studies were supported in part by the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission. For details and references, see OT-19 ("Radioisotope Studies at the Fernald State School, Massachusetts") in Human Radiation Experiments.
47Felix Bronner, Ph.D. (born 1921, Vienna, Austria), naturalized U.S. citizen, physiologist, and nutritionist who worked at MIT on his dissertation and later worked at the Rockefeller Institute, the Cornell University Medical Center, and the University of Connecticut.
55During World War II, the Manhattan Project had built a vast complex of highly classified facilities in and near Oak Ridge, Tennessee, to process uranium for use in atomic bombs. The Atomic Energy Commission assumed control of these facilities upon its creation and, today, they belong to the Department of Energy.
58F. Bronner, R.S. Harris, C.J. Maletskos, and C.E. Benda, in Journal of Clinical Investigation 35: 7888; 1956. See OT-19 ("Radioisotope Studies at the Fernald State School, Massachusetts") in the Experiment List.
60Clemens F. Benda, M.D., a physician specializing in psychiatry, had an appointment as a professor at the Harvard Medical School. He was Director of Research at the Fernald School. He is now deceased.
61a rare, slowly progressive, hereditary disease transmitted as an autosomal dominant trait, characterized by myotonia (lack of muscle tone) followed by atrophy of the muscles (especially those of the face and neck), cataracts, hypogonadism, frontal balding, and heart abnormalities. Also called myotonic dysrophia or myotonic distrophy.
62deficiency in thyroid secretions, resulting in goiter, myxedema (thickening of the skin, blunting of the senses and intellect, and labored speech), and, in children, cretinism (stunted growth, deformity, and mental retardation)
69Animals had been suspected, and were later confirmed, to metabolize and excrete radionuclides at rates that differed, often substantially, from the rates in humans; animal metabolic rates are usually higher than man's.
75Maletskos is referring to the 1986 Congressional report issued by Representative Edward Markey (DMass), entitled American Nuclear Guinea Pigs: Three Decades of Radiation Experiments on U.S. Citizens. It discussed the 194547 injections of 18 human subjects with plutonium and about 30 other experiments, under the sponsorship of the Manhattan Project and subsequently the Atomic Energy Commission.
76Harriet Hardy, M.D., a physician in occupational medicine, was the head of Occupational Medical Service of the Medical Department at MIT. Hardy was known for her research in berylliosis (toxicity of beryllium). She is now deceased.
77In 1966, the National Institutes of Health made recommendations to the Surgeon General's Office for the creation of what are now known as Institutional Review Boards (IRBs). IRBs review and approve medical research involving humans.
79Roy Albert, M.D. (born 1924), was a professor of Environmental Medicine at New York University's Medical Center, where he studied radiation and chemical carcinogenesis and cancer from environmental toxins.
80Bernard L. Cohen, Ph.D. (born 1924), a nuclear physicist, served as a group leader at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (195058). In 1961 he became a professor of Physics at the University of Pittsburgh. Cohen is known for his research on nuclear reactions, health effects of radiation, and risk analysis.
82Dr. Paul Aebersold established the administrative system for distribution of radioactive isotopes. After working on the Manhattan Project at Los Alamos and Oak Ridge from 1942 to 1946, he served as director of the Atomic Energy Commission's Isotopes Division at Oak Ridge from 1947 to 1957. He retired as the Director of the AEC's Office of Isotopes Development in 1965. Two-and-a-half years later, he committed suicide. For additional information on Dr. Aebersold, see "Safety of the Nuclear Industry" in the interview with Merril Eisenbud (DOE/EH-0456, May 1995); "Remembrances of Personalities" in the interview with Earl Miller (DOE/EH-0474, June 1995); and "Oak Ridge Committees (Isotope Distribution, Human Use, et al.)" and "Vanderbilt University Study of Pregnant Women and Iron-59" in the interview with Karl Morgan (DOE/EH-0475, June 1995).
83S. Allan Lough, Ph.D., was a chemist by training who worked in the Division of Biology and Medicine, Atomic Energy Commission, in Washington, D.C. Lough was responsible for reviewing and approving applications for the use of radioactive materials. Upon his retirement, he joined the staff of the National Council on Radiation Protection and Measurement, in Bethesda, Maryland. Lough is now deceased.
85See the proceedings of the International Symposium on Biological Effects of 224Ra and Thorotrast, Alta, Utah, July 2123, 1994, published as Health Physics, Vol. 35(1), July 1978; edited by C.W. Mays.
86Martin Lubin, M.D., Ph.D. (born 1923), served on the staff of the MIT Medical Department and was a professor of Biophysics at Harvard Medical School (195368). He was later a professor of Microbiology at Dartmouth Medical School (1968 until retirement). Lubin conducted studies on the regulation of synthesis of biomolecules. He was familiar with the use of radioactive materials and their biological effects.
87C.R. Richmond, J.E. London, and J.E. Furchner; "Retention of Intravenously Administered Cesium-132 by Man"; in Biomedical and Medical Research Group of the Health Division Annual Report, July 1962 to June 1963; Los Alamos, New Mexico, LAMS-3034, 1963; pp. 2133. See LANL-22 ("Cesium-132 Metabolism in Humans") in the Experiment List.
89Ernest Carl Anderson was a physical chemist who worked at the University of Chicago Metallurgical Laboratory during the Manhattan Project, 194244, and then at Los Alamos Scientific Laboratory. Dr. Anderson received the AEC's E.O. Lawrence Award in 1966. He conducted research in natural radiocarbon, liquid scintillation counters, low-level radioactivity measurements, and cellular biochemistry. He also designed the HUMCO II, an improved version of the first whole-body counter, HUMCO I.
92Signed in 1963, ratified in 1964, and still in effect, the Limited Test Ban Treaty (LTBT) commits the United States and Russia (formerly the Soviet Union) to refrain from testing nuclear weapons in the atmosphere, under water, or in space, thus moving nuclear testing underground. The United Kingdom also acceded to the LTBT. The LTBT put an end to additions to nuclear fallout from U.S., Soviet and Russian, and British nuclear tests except in those rare cases when an underground nuclear test accidentally vents to the atmosphere. Prior to negotiation of the LTBT, an atmospheric testing moratorium was observed by the U.S. and the Soviet Union until it was broken by the Soviets. This moratorium may be the first of the two periods to which Dr. Richmond refers when the buildup of fallout-borne cesium was halted.
93This means that samples of exhaled air were collected in flasks and then radiologically counted. When this is done, the sample is allowed to sit for a while, while 220Rn decays away, leaving only 222Rn. The 222Rn is then measured.
95Radium needles were not hypodermic needles, which could accidentally prick the physician, but slivers of radium implanted in a subject's body surgically to destroy a tumor. Such needles could not be accidentally introduced into the surgeon's body.
96At a 1967 symposium, he proposed that the AEC establish a National Center for Human Radiobiology so the AEC could follow up and combine all the radium cases being studied at MIT, Argonne National Laboratory, and elsewhere. On September 1, 1969, the center opened at Argonne, headed by Robert E. Rowland; Evans maintained a satellite office at MIT.
100International Commission on Radiological Protection, Publication 20, Alkaline Earth Metabolism in Adult Man, Oxford: Pergamon Press, 1973. Produced at Argonne National Laboratory by a committee headed by John Marshall, ICRP-20 addressed the retention and dosimetry of the alkaline earth elements in humans.
102a condition in which there are bandlike areas of condensed bone at the epiphyseal lines of long bones and condensation of the edges of smaller bones; also called marble bones, ivory bones, AlbersSchönberg disease
103Maletskos is referring broadly to studies in which health physicists try to determine how much ionizing radiation was received by persons who were living near atomic bomb tests conducted in the Pacific or, in the case of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, by persons who were irradiated by the A-bombs that were dropped on those cities by American bombers.
106a professor of Radiology at the University of Rochester (Rochester, New York), site of research involving plutonium and human subjects. Dr. Warren worked on the Manhattan Project in Oak Ridge as head of the medical section and headed an Intramedical Advisory Committee. After World War II, Dr. Warren became dean of the University of California, Los Angeles Medical School.
107James E. Johnson, Ph.D. (born 1936), is a retired professor of Animal Science and Radiological Health Sciences at Colorado State University, and once served as campus Radiation Safety Officer. He conducted research on alkali metal metabolism, whole-body counting, and environmental radioactivity.
108Francis Moore, M.D., of Peter Bent Brigham Hospital (now Brigham and Women's Hospital) in Boston, was interested in body composition studies and the relationship of body composition to surgery. He made a number of detailed anatomical separations and analyses of the constituents of different body tissues in man.
109See J. Reeve, J.R. Green, C.J. Maletskos, and R.M. Neer,"Skeletal Retention of Calcium-45 and Strontium-85 Compared: Further Studies on Intravenously Injected Strontium-85 as a Tracer for Skeletal Calcium," in Calcified Tissue Int. 35:915, 1983.
114From 1951 to 1977, Durbin worked as a chemist and radiobiologist at the Crocker Laboratory of the Lawrence Radiation Laboratory (Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory). 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. (June 1995).
115LA-1151, 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.
116Charles K. Levy, Ph.D., a general biologist at Boston University, previously with Massachusetts General Hospital, is still a professor or emeritus professor of biology at Boston University. He is interested in radiation biology and has conducted research in classical biology and multitracer tagging of wolves in the field to track the young and their behavior with respect to parents.
117a nuclear power generating station 10 miles from Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, owned and operated by General Public Utilities, Incorporated. On March 28, 1979, a combination of system failure and human error led to a partial meltdown in one of the station's two 1,000-megawatt pressurized water reactors. As one consequence, radioactivity was vented into the air. The event at Three Mile Island remains the most significant nuclear power plant accident to have occurred in the United States.
118Harding and Kerrigan were ice skaters vying for a position on the 1994 U.S. Olympic Figure Skating Team. After it was discovered that Harding's boyfriend had hired a "hit man" to break Kerrigan's leg, Federal investigators sought to determine whether Harding had been a coconspirator. For many months, nearly every evening news report contained coverage of the HardingKerrigan rivalry or the investigation. In the United States, the episode is widely regarded as the leading news story of 1994.