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Nuclink: Journal of Current Radiation and Public Health Issues

Volume 2, Number 1
January 28, 2002

Published by RPHP
PO Box 60 Unionville, NY 10988
Editor: W.L. McDonnell
http://www.radiation.org

WHY NUCLEAR FALLOUT HAS CAUSED 20 MILLION PREMATURE US DEATHS SINCE 1950
By Jay M. Gould
Radiation and Public Health Project

The two charts below are based on official US mortality rates for total population since 1900 and for infant mortality rates since 1935.

The first chart indicates that the annual rate of improvement in total mortality rates prior to 1950 averaged about 1 percent each year but was cut in half after heavy nuclear fallout from bomb tests and nuclear reactors began in 1950.

If the average annual rate of improvement had remained at 1 percent throughout the 20th century, the US total mortality rate in 1999 would be about 6 deaths per 1000. Instead, the observed rate is 9 deaths per 1000. There would have been nearly 20 million fewer premature deaths after 1950.

A similar story is told for infant mortality, included in total mortality.

Prior to 1950 the infant mortality rates improved by about 4 percent each year. But in in the bomb test fifties they flattened out and averaged less than one percent annual improvement thereafter, accounting for total of one million premature infant deaths by 1999.

While other environmental pollutants contributed to the observed mortality deterioration, only nuclear fallout seems a plausible cause for most of this vast change since 1950.