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"Science and the Modern World."
"Science and the Modern World." May 15, 1957.
Washington University, St. Louis, Missouri.

Life Expectancy Changes from Radiation Exposure. (1:59)

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Linus Pauling: There is no doubt that every bit of radiation is dangerous. Every added amount is dangerous to the health of the pool of human germ plasm of the human race.

I have calculated, let me see... the Atomic Energy Commission Report -- the National Academy of Sciences Report -- says that the fallout due to bomb tests already would be about a tenth of a roentgen per person averaged over the whole world. Now a tenth of a roentgen: one roentgen causes the possibility of disease, increased incidence of disease, corresponding to about two weeks decrease in life expectancy. This is a figure -- there's a little uncertainty in it, it might be one week, it might be three weeks. Different sources of information, experimental information, Hiroshima survivors and so on, patients...who have been treated with large amounts of x-radiation, for example. Different sources of information give values in this range of one to three weeks.

Now suppose we multiply this by 2,500. That would be 250 roentgens, which would correspond with two weeks to 5 years -- is that right? -- 10 years decrease in life expectancy. If this effect is a random one -- it hits this individual and misses others, a cosmic ray happens to hit the right part of a cell to produce cancer -- if this is a random one, we might say that the effect of fallout from bomb tests so far is that one person in 2,500 on average will have his life expectancy cut short by 10 years. That is, one million people out of the 2.5 billion in the world, one million people with 10 years decrease in life expectancy. This is my estimate. I know something about physics, chemistry, radiation, biology, and medicine. I think that this is a reasonable estimate.


Creator: Linus Pauling
Clip ID: 1957v.6-lifeexpectancy

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Creator: Linus Pauling
Associated: Washington University

Date: May 15, 1957
Genre: sound
ID: 1957v.6
Copyright: More Information

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