- Nuclear bombs and health
The medical effects of a nuclear blast upon humans can be put into four categories: the "initial" stage, the first 1-2 weeks, the greatest amount of deaths are in this period with 90% due to
thermalinjury and or blast effects and 10% due to supralethal radiationexposure, the "intermediate" stage from 3-8 weeks the deaths in this period are from ionization radiation in the median lethal range, and the "late" period lasting from 8-20 weeks, this period has some improvement in survivors condition and the "delayed" period from 20+ weeks. The last section is characterized by “numerous complications, mostly related to healing of thermal and mechanical injuries coupled with infertility, subfretility and blood disorders caused by radiation.” The next problem is that ionizing radiation from fallout causes genetic effects, birth defects, cancer cataracts and other effects in organs and tissue.
Lethal Radiation Syndromes
There are numerous lethal radiation syndromes including
prodromal syndrome, bone marrowdeath, central nervous systemdeath and gastrointestinaldeath.Coggle, J.E., Lindop, Patricia J. "Medical Consequences of Radiation Following a Global Nuclear War." The Aftermath (1983): 60-71.]
First of all Prodromal (initial) syndrome, a dose of 150 rads or less is not lethal, but it will cause gastrointestinal distress i.e.
anorexia, nausea, fatigue and possibly diarrhea.
Bone marrow death
Bone marrow death is caused by a dose of radiation between 200 and 1000 rads and is characterized by the part of the bone marrow that’s makes the blood being broken down. Therefore production of red and white blood cells and platelets is stopped by division of
precursor stem cellsceasing(450 rads kills 95% of stem cells). The loss of platelets greatly increases the chance of fatal hemorrhage. While the lack of white blood cells causes septicemia infections. The fall in red blood cells is minimal and only cause mild anemia.
The exposure to 450 rads of penetrating gamma rays has many effects that occur at different times:
The peak incidence of acute BM death corresponds to the 30 day nadir in blood cell numbers. The number of deaths then falls progressively until it reaches 0 at 60 days after irradiation. The amount of radiation greatly effects the probability of death. For example over the range of 200 to 600 rads the probability of death in untreated adults goes from about 1% to 99%, but these figures are for healthy adults. Therefore results may differ because of the thermal and mechanical injuries and infectious conditions.
Central nervous system death
Central nervous system death is irreversible and the symptoms are:
Gastrointestinal death is caused by a dose of radiation between 1000 and 5000 rads. Whole body doses cause damage to epithelial cells lining the gastrointestinal tract and combined with the bone marrow damage is fatal. All symptoms become increasingly severe causing exhaustion and emaciation in a few days and death within 7-14 days from loss of water and electorates.
Short term effects ( those who don’t die in 6-8 weeks)
First of all the skin, which is susceptible to beta-emitting radioactive fallout. The principal site of damage is the
germinal layer. But the most rapid response is erythema (reddening) due to blood vessels congestion and edema. Erythema that lasts 10 days occurs in 50% of people exposed to 500-600 rads
Other effects with exposure include:
*200-300 rads temporary hair loss
*700 rads permanent epilation occurs
*1000 rads itching and flaking occurs
*1000-2000 rads weeping blistering and ulceration will occur
Next in the lungs, the most radiosensitive organ, is radiation pneumonitis can occur which leads to pulmonary insufficiency and death(100% after exposure to 5,000 rads of radiation), in a few months. Radiation pneumonitis is characterized by:
*Loss of epithelial cells
*Occlusions of airways, air sacs and blood vessels and blood vessels
Long Term Effects
These symptoms may take 6 months to 30 years to develop but they have median time of 2-3 years.
*200 rads of gamma rays cause opacities in a few percent
*600-700 rads can seriously impair vision and cause
Is most significant long term risk of a nuclear bomb. 1 out of every 80 people exposed to 100 rads would die from cancer. Still twice as many people will get cancer as that die from it. But, Different types of cancer take different times for them to appear:
*2 years for leukemia to appear
*20 or more for skin or lung cancer
In Utero Effects
100 rads dose of radiation will cause between 0 and 20 extra cases of perinatal mortality, per 1,000 births and 0-20 cases of sever mental sub normality. But 5 rads will increase death due to cancer 10 times, to 5 per 1,000. Last of all an antenatal dose of 100 rads in first trimester risk of fatal cancer will increase to 100%.
Immediate post attack period
The main causes of death and disablement will be injuries caused by blast effects on buildings and thermal burns (Heat of the blast high enough to cause 3rd degree burns to the full thickness of the skin), not the pressure wave. This is because the human body can survive up to a 30 psi pressure wave but most buildings can only withstand a 12 psi blast.
Therefore, the fate of humans is closely related to the survival of the buildings around them. Because of this in many cases the injured would out number the survivors. Unfortunately the destruction of medical facilities would make this much worse.Middleton, Hugh. "Medical Consequences of Radiation Following a Global Nuclear War." The Aftermath (1983): 50-56.]
Fate within certain peak overpressure
The main long term effects of a nuclear blast are infectious diseases caused by contaminated water, sewage, crowded living conditions, poor standard of living lack of vaccines. These diseases include:
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