First Atomic Bomb Test Exposed New Mexico Residents To Radiation
    By News Staff | July 16th 2007 11:40 AM | 6 comments | Print | E-mail | Track Comments
    On the eve of the 62nd anniversary of the world's first atomic explosion, the Trinity atomic bomb test, a CDC-led study team has reported new insights on the radiation released at the time of the test. Analyzing the doses that nearby residents received, the CDC team has made preliminary estimates of additional doses that the residents could have ingested in their bodies.

    The test of a plutonium-based atomic device at the Trinity Site in southern New Mexico on July 16, 1945 was an undertaking unlike any that humankind had tried before. There was much uncertainty among the Los Alamos scientists, military personnel, and Manhattan Project officials assembled for the event as to whether the device would work and how, if it did work, it would affect the local environment. Some even feared the blast would ignite the atmosphere and cause worldwide destruction.

    As part of the Los Alamos Historical Document Retrieval and Assessment project being led by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), an independent study team has collected information about the world’s first atomic explosion. While much information about the test has been documented in government reports, and some has been reported in books in the popular press, there has to date been no public accounting of the total radiation doses that local residents received from the cloud as it passed over, from radioactivity that fell onto the ground around them, and from contamination of their air, water, milk, and the foods that they ate.

    Affected area.

    To avoid leaking the secret of the American atomic bomb project, local residents were not warned or evacuated in advance of, or following, the test. Numerous ranches existed in the area, some within 15 miles of “ground zero,” and commercial crops were grown in nearby regions. Several residences closest to the Trinity Site were not known to Army Intelligence officers who had mapped the area. The terrain and air flow patterns in the area caused a number of “hot spots” with particularly high radiation levels. Five monitoring teams traveled along local roads in the hours after the explosion and recorded their findings, but portable instruments were very crude at the time.

    The highest radiation levels from the Trinity Test were measured in a swath 12 miles long and one mile wide that started near an area known as White Store, about 16 miles northeast of “ground zero,” and stretched across Chupadera Mesa. Around nearby ranches, exposure rates around 15 Roentgen per hour were measured just over three hours after detonation. Fallout was measured as far away as Indiana. As a point of reference, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission currently states that members of the public should receive less than 2 millirem (approximately 0.002 Roentgen) in any one hour from external radiation sources in any public area. Exposure rates measured after the Trinity test exceeded this level by more than a factor of 10,000.

    The only color photograph available for the Trinity blast, taken by Los Alamos scientist and amateur photographer Jack Aeby from near Base Camp. As Aeby later said, "It was there so I shot it."

    In the 1940s, government officials had limited knowledge of the dangers of that would come from the radiation of a nuclear explosion, leading them to decide against an evacuation of the immediate area for secrecy reasons. As a result, people in the surrounding areas were exposed to radiation by breathing contaminated air and drinking contaminated water and goats’ milk.

    At the time, scientists and physicians focused on the immediate, short-term effects of radiation exposure. Widner, the director of the new study, believes if officials had known what is now known about the long-term effects of radiation exposure such as cancer, evacuations would certainly have been arranged, even if their publicity would have threatened the mission.

    During their presentation at the Health Physics Society meeting on Wednesday morning, July 11, the CDC team reported that ingestion of radioactive materials, primarily from rain water collected in cisterns and that found in goat’s milk, may have been a noteworthy contributor to public radiation dose and largely was not accounted for.

    Reconstructed dose data will be reported this week at a meeting in New Mexico.

    Source: Health Physics Society


    Has there ever been any work published about the effects on the nearby population and their life span and cause of death?

    Where is this information gotten from? Is there a primary source one can make reference to?

    i dont know of any documentation but i know from real life my grand parent and my mother and her twin sister lived there and since my grandfather died of liver cancer , my grandmother died of brain, colon and lung , cancer and, by aunt died at the age of 43 in 1983 of lung cancer and they always talked about the badges they had to wear when they went to school there and my aunt had lots of exposure to radiation and my grand mother and father and mother as well and still to this day we have never heard from the goverment abut this and am quite interested in finding out what they are gonna do as my children and grand children grow and encountere cancers of all kinds , i my self suffer from psorissis and arthrithis, wich is an autoimmune disease... what will my kids end up with because of this

    I'm interested in finding out about research into the effects of radiation from Trinity site on women born in 1945.
    I myself know many women, now in their 60's who lived in NM as babies who were diagnosed infertile,had many miscarriages or gave birth to children with handicaps.

    I was born in Roswell NM in 1953. My 2 sisters were born in 1944 and 1945. My mother had 2 miscarriages in the late 40's, a few years after the blast. I can't believe nobody is making a big deal about this. I am sure the government wants it swept under the rug so they don't have problems from people who have suffered as a result of the blast. I read that the effects of radiation affect our children and grandchildren. I have been very upset about the lack of information from the government regarding this and I am encouraged to see that some people are interested. I have an autoimmune disease as do 2 or my 3 children. Many family members have become ill, more than average I believe. Both of my sister's children have illnesses, one has cancer at the age of 30, one has an autoimmune disease. I have a sister born in 1958 who was born with a rare condition. My cousin who lived across the street has the same autoimmune disease that I do. Pls email me if you want to talk about this.

    I lived in the Alamogordo area in the 1980s. I became alarmed when I became pregnant while living there and the doctor sternly warned me not to drink the tap water while pregnant. He never said why, but insisted that I not drink it. I was young and dumb.
    I stopped drinking it , and the rest of my family too. However my oldest child drank it as an infant up until age 2. now he is an adult and suffers from autoimmune disease. I have an autoimmune disease as well. No one in my family has these type of illnesses, not in my extended family or immediate family.
    I believe that there was something in the tap water that was not disclosed. I'd love to find more info. It seems like there is very little about the effects of Trinity in that area.