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
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.