Human radiation experiments
Since the discovery of ionizing radiation, a number of human radiation experiments have been performed to understand the effects of ionizing radiation and radioactive contaminationon the human body. Early pioneers did not appreciate the danger of such experiments and quite casually exposed experimenters and subjects to such radiation. In recent years, the danger is well-understood and experiments are carefully designed with close attention to medical ethicsand safety for everyone involved. However, there have been a number of experiments that may constitue unethical human experimentation.
- 1 Plutonium experiments
- 2 Fallout Research
- 3 Project Sunshine
- 4 The Outcome
- 5 Further reading
- 6 External links
During and after the end of World War II, scientists working on the Manhattan Projectand other nuclear weapons research projects conducted studies of the effects of plutonium on laboratory animals and human subjects. In the case of human subjects, this involved injecting solutions containing (typically) five micrograms of plutoniuminto hospital patients thought to be either terminally ill, or to have a life expectancy of less than ten years either due to age or chronic disease condition. The injections were made without the informed consent of those patients. 
This experiment is now considered to be a serious breach of medical ethics.
In 1954, American scientists conducted falloutexposure research on the citizens of the Marshall Islandsafter the Castle Bravonuclear testin Project 4.1. The Bravo test was detonated upwind of Rongelap Atolland the residents were exposed to serious radiation levels, up to 180 rads. 236 Marshallese were exposed, some developed severe radiation sicknessand one died, long term effects included birth defects, "jellyfish" babies, and thyroid problems. Whether this exposure was intentional or not is the subject of debate.
Early in the Cold War, researchers in the United States, the United Kingdom, and Australia attempted to determine just how much nuclear falloutwould be required to make the Earth uninhabitable. They realized that atmospheric nuclear testinghad provided them an opportunity to investigate this. Such tests had dispersed radioactive contaminationworldwide, and examination of human bodies could reveal how readily it was taken up and hence how much damage it was caused. Of particular interest was strontium-90 in the bones. Infants were the primary focus, as they would have had a full opportunity to absorb the new contaminants.
As a result of this conclusion, researchers began a program to collect human bodies and bones from all over the world, with a particular focus on infants. The bones were cremated and the ashes analyzed for radioisotopes. This project was kept secret primarily because it would be a public relationsdisaster; as a result parents and family were not told what was being done with the body parts of their relatives.
On January 15, 1994, President Bill Clinton formed the Advisory Committee on Human Radiation Experiments (ACHRE). This committee was created to investigate and report the use of human beings as test subjects in experiments involving the effects of ionizing radiation in federally funded research. The committee discovered the causes of the experiments, and reasons why the proper oversight did not exist, and made several recommendations to prevent future occurrences of similar events. The final report issued by the ACHRE can be found at the Department of Energy's website here: .
- The Plutonium Files: America's secret medical experiments in the Cold War, by Eileen Welsome, Dial Press, c1999, New York, N.Y., ISBN 0385314027
- The Treatment: The Story of Those Who Died in the Cincinnati Radiation Tests, by Martha Stephens, Duke UniversityPress, c2002, Durham, N.C., ISBN 0-8223-2811-9
- Holly M. Barker, Bravo for the Marshallese: Regaining Control in a Post-Nuclear, Post-Colonial World, Wadsworth, 2004. ISBN 0534613268
- PROJECT SUNSHINE AND THE SLIPPERY SLOPE
- The nuclear bodysnatchers
- Grave injustices
- "A Little of the Buchenwald Touch": America's Secret Radiation Experiments
- Embassy of the Republic of the Marshall Islands
- The Final Report of the Advisory Committee on Human Radiation Experiments
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It uses material from the http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Human+radiation+experiments Wikipedia article Human radiation experiments.