Human Radiation Experiments

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Human Radiation Experiments

Human Radiation Experiments


From the time ionizing radiation has been discovered, humans have been used as guinea pigs for experimentation. In the United States, numerous experiments have been performed out in order to test the effects radioactive contamination caused by ionizing radiation, on the human body. These experiments were mostly funded by the government agencies of the United States such as the U.S Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) and the U.S Department of Defense. The experiments were conducted in order to prepare America for nuclear attacks after the World War II. Over 4000 classified radiation experiments were carried out by different government agencies which were also kept secret. In these experiments, thousands of innocents U.S citizens were used as test subjects and were exposed to radiations (Advisory Committee on Human Radiation Experiments, 1996).

A wide range of studies was the reason of conduction these experiments. Inserting radium rods in the noses of soldiers, measuring the consequences of radioactive fallout as a result of a nuclear-bomb tests, feeding radioactive food to children who were mentally disabled or to those who were conscientious objectors, irradiating the testicle of prisoner inmates and injecting pregnant women and new born babies with radioactive substances are amongst the different studies which were carried out during the period of 1940's to 1960's. In this paper we will further discuss these experiments in details, along with their consequences; the populations which were used as test subjects, the results of the investigation conducted by the congressional committee and the ethical principles dealing with human experimentations are also a part of the discussion which we will be doing in the proceeding parts of the paper.



Numerous experiments were done during the period of 1940's to 1960's a few of which are discussed below:

Radio Active Iodine Experiments

The U.S Atomic Energy Commission conducted a secret experiment in the University of Iowa in 1953, to determine the effects of radioactive iodine in pregnant women and new born babies. In one experiment, researchers wanted to study that at what stage and to which extent radioactive iodine penetrates into the embryo. For this study, they gave 100 to 200 micro-curies of iodine-131 to pregnant women. In another study with an aim to identify the amount of iodine in the thyroid glands of new born babies, they gave 25 newborns iodine-131. These new born were used as test subjects only within 36 hours of their birth. In another study, with the name Green Run, researchers released xenon-133 and iodine-131 to the atmosphere. This contaminated an area of approximately 500,000 acres and affected three small towns near Hanford, Washington. The objectives of the study are undetermined to date.

AEC conducted a study in 1953, premature and full-term babies were used in the experiment as test subjects. The basic objective of this experiment was to determine whether or not iodine affects full-term and premature babies equally. In this regard, researchers dosed 65 premature and full-term babies with iodine-131 orally. Apart from this other iodine related studies were conducted in which ...
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