Is there still radiation from nuclear tests?

At present, very little radioactivity can still be detected from weapons tests in the 1950s and 1960s in the environment. The United States conducted the first nuclear weapons test on the ground in southeastern New Mexico on July 16, 1945. Between 1945 and 1963, hundreds of aerial explosions occurred around the world. Some of these isotopes could affect people through external exposure (exposure to radiation outside the body), while others could affect people through internal exposure (exposure of a specific internal organ to radiation inside the body).

Some radioactive materials remain only for a short period of time, while others remain for an extended period of time. Because some of the isotopes in the rain from the weapons tests were of the durable type, a small amount of radioactive fallout remains in the environment today, and people can continue to be exposed. The consequences of nuclear bomb tests in the 50s and 60s are appearing in the U.S. UU.

Honey, according to a new study. Although radioactivity levels are not dangerous, they may have been much higher in the 1970s and 1980s, researchers say. After World War II, the United States, the former Soviet Union and other countries detonated hundreds of nuclear warheads in aerial tests. The bombs expelled radiocesium, a radioactive form of the element cesium, into the upper atmosphere, and winds scattered it around the world before it fell from the sky in microscopic particles.

For example, many more consequences dusted off the U.S. East Coast, thanks to regional wind and rain patterns. So Kaste and her colleagues, including one of her college students, collected 122 samples of locally produced raw honey from across the eastern United States and tested them for radiocesium. They detected it in 68% of the samples, at levels greater than 0.03 becquerels per kilogram, approximately 870,000 radiocesium atoms per tablespoon.

Highest levels of radioactivity occurred in a Florida sample 19.1 becquerels per kilogram. The findings, reported last month in Nature Communications, reveal that, thousands of kilometers from the nearest bomb site and more than 50 years after the bombs fell, radioactive fallout continues to circulate through plants and animals. Even so, those numbers are nothing to worry about, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration Tells Science.

Radiocesium levels reported in the new study fall well below 1200 becquerels per kilogram, the limit for any food safety problem, the agency says. Radiocesium decays over time, so honey in the past probably contained more. To find out how much more, Kaste's team thoroughly analyzed the records of cesium tests in the U.S. Milk that was monitored for radiation contamination concern and archived plant samples analyzed.

Findings raise questions about how cesium has impacted bees over the past half century, says Justin Richardson, biogeochemist at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. They are being eliminated by pesticides, but there are other lesser-known toxic impacts of humans, such as rain, that can affect their survival. So, while the new study shouldn't raise any alarm about current honey, understanding how nuclear pollutants move remains vital to assessing the health of our ecosystems and our agriculture, says Thure Cerling, a geologist at the University of Utah. We need to pay attention to these things.

Don't have access yet? Subscribe to News from Science for full access to breaking news and analysis on research and science policies. Help News from Science publish reliable, high-impact stories about research and the people who shape it. Make a Tax-Deductible Donation Today. If we've learned anything from the COVID-19 pandemic, it's that we can't wait for a crisis to respond.

Science and AAAS work tirelessly to provide credible, evidence-based information on the latest scientific research and policy, with extensive free coverage of the pandemic. Your tax-deductible contribution plays a critical role in maintaining this effort. Even in the midst of the Cold War, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission sought to improve the safety of Soviet nuclear reactors. Prior to 1963, the United States and other countries conducted more than 500 nuclear weapons tests in the atmosphere.

In 1989, the World Association of Nuclear Operators (WANO) was formed to cooperate with the IAEA and ensure the same three pillars of reactor safety across international borders. The ACS regulations against the potential consequences of nuclear reactors focused on the power plant's capacity for the maximum credible accident (MCA). The INES scale is comprised of seven steps that categorize nuclear events, ranging from anomalies that need to be recorded to improve safety measures to serious accidents that require immediate action. In the case of large-scale nuclear exchange, the effects would be drastic on the environment and directly on the human population.

In 1998, Congress asked CDC and NCI to determine if it would be feasible to estimate whether Americans had suffered health effects from nuclear weapons testing in the atmosphere. High Atmospheric Radioactivity Remains Measurable After Widespread Nuclear Tests of the 1950s. While full-body shielding in a safe shelter from rain, as described above, is the most optimal form of radiation protection, it requires being enclosed in a very thick bunker for a significant period of time. A 1991 study by the International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (IPPNW) estimated that radiation and radioactive materials from atmospheric tests conducted by humans up to the year 2000 would cause 430,000 deaths from cancer, some of which had already occurred when the published results were obtained.

The ability of an element to form a solid controls the rate at which it is deposited on the ground after being injected into the atmosphere by nuclear detonation or accident. The dangers of nuclear fallout are not limited to an increased risk of cancer and radiation sickness, but also include the presence of radionuclides in human organs from food. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the Federal Emergency Management Agency, in coordination with other agencies interested in public protection after a nuclear detonation, have developed more recent guidance documents that are based on old Civil Defense frameworks.

There were several programs, both inside and outside the NTS, to monitor the release of radioactive material from nuclear tests. . .