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Natural Awakenings Tucson

Poisoned Pastures: Nuclear Testing Linked to Radioactive Milk

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The hundreds of nuclear bombs detonated on a remote Nevada test site during the Cold War produced radioactive fallout that led indirectly to the deaths of 340,000 to 690,000 Americans, concludes a recent study by economist Keith Meyers, Ph.D., of the University of Southern Denmark. Meyers conducted the research for his doctoral dissertation while attending the University of Arizona. By combining National Cancer Institute data measuring the radioactive element Iodine-131 in local cow milk with county-by-county mortality data, he found heightened death rates in the Midwest and Northeast between 1951 and 1973. The finding suggests that airborne radiation contaminated pastures that, in turn, made milk radioactive and led to the human ingestion of slow-acting, but fatal radioactive isotopes. In comparison, an estimated 200,000 to 350,000 people in the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki died directly from the atomic bombs dropped on August 6 and 9, 1945, respectively.


This article appears in the May 2019 issue of Natural Awakenings.

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