The Spark

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.” — Karl Marx

Some 15,000 Americans died of cancer caused by U.S. nuclear testing

Mar 4, 2002

The U.S. government’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention finished a study over a year ago on the effects of nuclear weapons testing on the population of the U.S. That study has never been released, but USA Today managed to get a copy of it and published some of its findings. According to USA Today 15,000 people probably died from cancer in the U.S. as the result of tests carried out above ground by the U.S. and the Soviet Union, with most of the fallout in the U.S. coming from U.S. testing.

The U.S. government exploded over 200 atomic bombs in the atmosphere from the 1940s up until 1963. About half the explosions were at the Nevada Test Site, 65 miles from Las Vegas, but winds carried radioactive particles to most of the country.

People got cancer in two ways from the radioactive fallout. Radioactive particles fell on the skin of people and gave rise to melanoma and breast cancer, among other cancers. People also absorbed radiation internally from breathing the fallout and eating food that the radioactive particles fell on. The study estimated that internal absorption caused at least 550 fatal leukemia deaths and 2,500 fatal cases of thyroid cancer. The study said, “all organs and tissues of the body have received some radiation exposure.

Of course 15,000 deaths isn’t much when compared to the several hundred thousand people who were killed from the two atomic bombs the U.S. dropped on Japan to demonstrate to the world it had the bomb and would use it. But this study at least shows that the disregard for human life that U.S. authorities exhibit toward the rest of the world extends to the population here.