Radioactive fallout from Cold War nuclear testing exposed virtually everyone in the United States to potentially dangerous levels of radiation and contributed to about 11,000 cancer deaths, according to a study by the national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The radioactive exposure contributed to a minimum of 22,000 U.S. cancer cases.

The study is the first to consider the health effects of nuclear testing that took place between 1951 and 1962, including testing by foreign countries. The United States and the Soviet Union agreed in 1963 to restrict nuclear tests to underground sites. The report states that, ?Any person living in the contiguous United States since 1951 has been exposed to radioactive fallout, and all organs and tissues of the body have received some radiation exposure.?

It has been revealed that the preliminary report was sent to Congress last August; however, the study is not yet complete. Senator Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, says, ?What we know is maybe the tip of the iceberg here. We know that there?s been upwards of perhaps 15,000 deaths that are attributable to these nuclear tests.?

?What is surprising and very new is that it has created intense hot spots in the continental United States all the way from California and Washington to Vermont, New Hampshire and North Carolina,? says Dr. Arjun Makhijani, president of the Institute for Energy and Environmental Research.

A 1997 assessment by the National Cancer Institute found that 11,300 to 212,000 thyroid cancers could have been caused by iodine-131 produced in nuclear explosions at the Nevada Test Site. It also concludes that nuclear testing was responsible for about 550 leukemia deaths since 1951.

Lisa Ledwidge, an IEER biologist, says that in the 1950s government officials notified suppliers of photographic film about expected fallout patterns so they could protect their film, but did not share the information with milk producers. A 1997 report by the National Cancer Institute on iodine-131 indicated that ?farm children … who drank goat’s milk in the 1950s in high fallout areas were as severely exposed as the worst exposed children after the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear plant accident,? says Makhijani.

Senator Harkin says, ?People have a right to know if they were exposed where the big areas of fallout were and they need to be screened and told what to do to protect their health.? To learn more,click here.

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