Declassified effects of nuclear weapons and other threats, for minimizing terrorist threats

Glasstone and Dolan, Effects of nuclear weapons background information

Sunday, May 17, 2015

In 1,881 burns cases in Hiroshima, only 17 (or 0.9 percent) were due to ignited clothing and 15 (or 0.7%) were due to the firestorm flames

The 1957 edition of The Effects of Nuclear Weapons, published just before Operation Plumbbob results were in, acknowledged that clothing had provided protection from flash burns in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, but then resorted to the usual obfuscation tactic of claiming that clothing can be ignited and so flame burns can occur, although it is explained in U.S. Strategic Bombing Survey reports published in 1946 and 1947 that survivors easily beat out burning clothing without sustaining burns (you can extinguish a candle flame with your fingers without severe burns).  Anti-nuclear groups traditionally since 1947 have used as "examples" of nuclear burns case studies not from Hiroshima and Nagasaki, but from American gasoline-soaked clothing ignition in automobile burns accident victims, where severe burns resulted.  This is similar to experiences in WWII, Korea and Vietnam with clothing drenched with burning napalm.  In such cases, you cannot beat out the burning clothing before severe burns result, but nuclear weapons do not produce the same results as we will prove in this post.


In peacetime gasoline-soaked clothing automobile accident burns casualties, typically a huge number of specialists have used many gallons of blood plasma, bandages, etc., and the casualty has ended up dying anyhow.  This peacetime experience is then falsely used as an example applicable to nuclear weapons thermal radiation.  Glasstone and Dolan, The Effects of Nuclear Weapons, 1977 seem to go along with this by ignoring any protection giving by clothing (or city skyline shadows, for that matter) in their misleading predictions of burns.  They implicitly assume that a nuclear weapon is detonated over a nudist result in an unobstructed desert, like the Nevada test site.  Although 1953 Nevada tests proved that clothing does provide protection from thermal radiation, in 1957 Plumbbob tests, a highly contrived and misleading situation was used to roast pigs in their jackets.  Pigs were tied down to tables and given anesthetic so they were unable to roll out the flames of ignited clothing.  Many suffered severe burns and died of shock.  Because the reports were classified for security reasons, democratic debate about the reasonableness of the assumptions used in this test was never possible.  The few scientists involved tended to suffer groupthink conformity, in which the heated, often rude, arguments needed to break down hardened dogma were taboo.

Nevertheless, some of the classified reports continued to report that, if people wear clothes or are in a modern hi-rise city, the Nevada test site experiences with pigs strapped to tables in a radial line to ground zero are irrelevant:










The photo on the left is the burns received to bare skin at just 900 metres from ground zero in Hiroshima, as photographed in mid-October 1945 at the Hiroshima First Army Hospital, Ujina branch.  The photo on the right shows the protection afforded by clothing, as seen on 7 July 1947, two years after the Hiroshima attack.  Burns scars occur on the arms, called keloids, caused by malnutrition and infection of burns during prolonged recovery.

Source: Hiroshima and Nagasaki: The Physical, Medical, and Social Effects of the Atomic Bombings, by The Committee for the Compilation of Materials on Damage Caused by the Atomic Bombs in Hiroshima and Nagasaki (706 pp, Basic Books, Inc., Publishers, New York, 1981.)

Above: of a sample of 1,881 burns cases in Hiroshima surveyed by Tokyo Imperial University in October-November 1945, only 17 (or 0.9 percent) were due to ignited clothing and 15 (or 0.7 percent) were due to the firestorm flames.  This disproves the myths of clothing ignition risks and firestorm burns risks from nuclear weapons.

Source: Table 8.2A in Hiroshima and NagasakiThe Physical, Medical, and Social Effects of the Atomic Bombings, by The Committee for the Compilation of Materials on Damage Caused by the Atomic Bombs in Hiroshima and Nagasaki (706 pp, Basic Books, Inc., Publishers, New York, 1981). (In Japan, Iwanami Shoten, Publishers.)  



Extracts from Hiroshima and NagasakiThe Physical, Medical, and Social Effects of the Atomic Bombings, by The Committee for the Compilation of Materials on Damage Caused by the Atomic Bombs in Hiroshima and Nagasaki (706 pp, Basic Books, Inc., Publishers, New York, 1981).  Tables 7.3 (casualties in wooden buildings) and 7.4 show that at 1 km from ground zero in Hiroshima the mortality rate was 75.3 percent for the 402 people in the wooden Second Hiroshima Army Hospital, but it was about twelve times smaller, only 6.5%, at the same distance for the modern concrete Hiroshima Broadcasting Station within the Hiroshima firestorm area.

These data prove that being inside the firestorm area was not the determining factor for survival and mortality; concrete buildings ensured survival by providing protection from radiation.  People surviving in concrete buildings could extinguish fires with water (as occurred inside the Bank of Japan, near ground zero, as proved by the secret classified report of the U.S. Strategic Bombing Survey on Hiroshima, evidence which was censored out of the unclassified version Truman published to try to intimidate Russia).

Table 7.2 in Hiroshima and NagasakiThe Physical, Medical, and Social Effects of the Atomic Bombings shows that 580 members of the Labor service group from Otake, Hino Group, were walking on a road at Fukushima-cho, 2.3 km West from Hiroshima, and suffered 9 fatalities (1.6 percent mortality), of which 2 died on the day of the nuclear explosion and the other 5 died within the week.  Clothing provided great protection in Hiroshima and Nagasaki:

The Effects of the Atomic Bomb on Hiroshima, Japan, US Strategic Bombing Survey, Pacific Theatre, report 92, volume 2 (May 1947, secret):

Volume one, page 14:


“the city lacked buildings with fire-protective features such as automatic fire doors and automatic sprinkler systems”, and pages 26-28 state the heat flash in Hiroshima was only “capable of starting primary fires in exposed, easily combustible materials such as dark cloth, thin paper, or dry rotted wood exposed to direct radiation at distances usually within 4,000 feet of the point of detonation (AZ).”

Volume two examines the firestorm and the ignition of clothing by the thermal radiation flash in Hiroshima:

Page 24:

“Scores of persons throughout all sections of the city were questioned concerning the ignition of clothing by the flash from the bomb. ... Ten school boys were located during the study who had been in school yards about 6,200 feet east and 7,000 feet west, respectively, from AZ [air zero]. These boys had flash burns on the portions of their faces which had been directly exposed to rays of the bomb. The boys’ stories were consistent to the effect that their clothing, apparently of cotton materials, ‘smoked,’ but did not burst into flame. ... a boy’s coat ... started to smoulder from heat rays at 3,800 feet from AZ.”

Page 88:

“Ignition of the City. ... Only directly exposed surfaces were flash burned. Measured from GZ, flash burns on wood poles were observed at 13,000 feet, granite was roughened or spalled by heat at 1,300 feet, and vitreous tiles on roofs were blistered at 4,000 feet. ... six persons who had been in reinforced-concrete buildings within 3,200 feet of air zero stated that black cotton blackout curtains were ignited by radiant heat ... dark clothing was scorched and, in some cases, reported to have burst into flame from flash heat [although as the 1946 USSBS report admits, most immediately beat the flames out with their hands without sustaining injury, because the clothing was not drenched in gasoline, unlike peacetime gasoline tanker road accident victims] ... but a large proportion of over 1,000 persons questioned was in agreement that a great majority of the original fires was started by debris falling on kitchen charcoal fires, by industrial process fires, or by electric short circuits. Hundreds of fires were reported to have started in the centre of the city within 10 minutes after the explosion. Of the total number of buildings investigated [135 buildings are listed] 107 caught fire, and in 69 instances, the probable cause of initial ignition of the buildings or their contents was as follows: (1) 8 by direct radiated heat from the bomb (primary fire), (2) 8 by secondary sources, and (3) 53 by fire spread from exposed [wooden] buildings.”



What about long-term radiation effects?

"Up to 1975 a total of 1,838 cases diagnosed as leukemia in both Hiroshima and Nagasaki have been registered.  Among these were 512 cases exposed to the atomic bomb (those exposed within 10,000 metres of the explosion), and 256 cases considered to have received more than 1 rad. The yearly chance in the number of leukemia cases showed a peak in 1951 and 1952 and tended to decline thereafter in both cities."

Hiroshima and NagasakiThe Physical, Medical, and Social Effects of the Atomic Bombings, by The Committee for the Compilation of Materials on Damage Caused by the Atomic Bombs in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, page 259.

This is misleading, because it gives only the total number of leukemia cases, not the smaller proportion that are actually due to radiation in the group of 109,000 Hiroshima and Nagasaki persons who were alive in 1950 and have been followed by the National Institute of Health in Japan:




Above: the latest data on solid cancers and blood cancers (leukemias) in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, compiled by the Radiation Effects Research Foundation of Japan, show that only 10.7% of solid cancers were due to radiation and only 46% of leukemias were due to radiation.  In both Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the majority of cancers were natural, therefore, and were not a result of the nuclear radiation exposure.  Contrast these facts to the mythology of the popular media, which is so corrupted by communist and American secrecy based money-spinning fear-mongering exaggerations of radiation and nuclear weapons effects that it is now taboo to tell the honest truth on nuclear matters.

The truth is that you needed between 0.5-1 Gray (50-100 rads) in Hiroshima and Nagasaki to get a leukemia risk from radiation equal to the natural leukemia risk, which is low anyway.  Thus, only personnel receiving over about 0.75 Gray (75 rads) who got leukemia were more likely than not to have got the leukemia as a result of the radiation exposure.  People getting leukemia who have received less than that massive radiation dose were more likely to have natural cancer, than radiation induced leukemia.

The latest DS02 dosimetry also supports a dose threshold of about 0.1 Gray or 10 rads, below which all leukemias are natural, for the very high dose rate of the initial radiation in Hiroshima and Nagasaki.  For low dose rates, as there is more time at a given dose for protein P53 to repair DNA damage caused by radiation (radiation unbinds P53 from its MDM2 inhibitor) so the dose threshold is much larger, about 20 Gray or 2000 rads, as proved by the radium dial painters discussed in Dr Sanders radiation hormesis research book.

For solid cancers, the RERF data show that you need over 2 Gray (200 rads) before the risk of radiation induced cancer equals the natural cancer risk.  Therefore, if you get cancer after an exposure to less than 200 rads (or 2 Grays), it is more than 50% probable than the cancer was natural DNA damage due to causes like natural thermal instability (brownian motion impacts of water ions against DNA molecules), not the radiation exposure.

These facts are vital for civil defense and nuclear weapons employment tactics, because they debunk exaggerations due to traditional weapons fear-mongering propaganda.  It is a crime to let lies circulate without opposition.  The efforts made by liars to shut down arguments they cannot win rationally, using censorship and "shoot the messenger" taboos, are threatening the future of terrorism safeguards.  If they succeed, we will return to the age of massive military spending on conventional arms which fail to deter and which therefore lead to world wars.  Whether those people are criminally ignorant or insane, they are a danger because their fear-mongering prevents the widespread objective assessment of serious dangers.

Above: recovery of population in the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki following nuclear war (Hiroshima and NagasakiThe Physical, Medical, and Social Effects of the Atomic Bombings Figure 10.16).  The total mortality rate in each city was about 25 percent, so the majority of the population survived the nuclear warfare and rebuilding was rapid, as was the decay rate of the radioactivity.  At no time was either city evacuated completely.

Simon Kuznets, a Nobel laureate in economics, studied economic recovery from war in his classic book Postwar Economic Growth (Harvard University Press, 1964), disclosing that within five years the destroyed cities were exceeding their prewar economy provided that capitalism was embraced: the socialist central planning of East Germany meant that it only achieved 73% of its prewar economy by 1950, compared to 117% for the free capitalist economy of West Germany in 1950.

Therefore, those who seem to want socialism seem also to want an economic crisis after a nuclear war, by advocating Marxist economics.  The strong economy of capitalism enabled support for Western Germany in the Marshall plan, whereas East Germany was looted and heavily taxed by USSR thugs intent on persecution and enslavement.  No country can prosper under tyranny.  Capitalism works and is an essential component of recovery from war damage.  We discussed some aspects of the recovery in Hiroshima and Nagasaki at a previous post linked here, and another linked here.



Above: rapid recovery of Hiroshima and Nagasaki (source: Dr Fred C. Ikle's book The Social Impact of Bomb Destruction).  In addition, the worst firestorm in history, that on Hamburg, which destroyed 48% of the houses in the city and 3% of the population (the wooden medieval area was subject to the firestorm; other areas of brick houses burned more slowly with far fewer casualties) recovered its prewar population by 1950, and had recovered 80% of its building trade within 7 months of the firestorm, while Greater London recovered 98% of its prewar population by 1948 (see pages 16, 163 and 215 of Dr Fred C. Ikle's book The Social Impact of Bomb Destruction).  Dr Fred C. Ikle's book The Social Impact of Bomb Destruction, pages 159 and 163 also discloses that the destruction of a UK city did not spell doomsday: Coventry's destruction by a massive Nazi air raid on 14-15 November 1940 resulted in 4.5 working days lost per employee, and only 1.3-1.7% of England's population was in full-time civil defense.




Above: nobody was instantly killed in Hiroshima and Nagasaki according to the data given in Figure 7.2 of Hiroshima and NagasakiThe Physical, Medical, and Social Effects of the Atomic Bombings.  The vast majority of the deaths in both cities were spread over a period of about 30-40 days, with 50 percent within the first 6 days.  This corresponds to the time taken for deaths from thermal burns, radiation sickness and infected wounds from flying glass and other debris.  All of these sources of mortality can be minimized by civil defense, such as shelter away from windows on the floor of concrete buildings.

Oughterson and Warren's 1956 McGraw-Hill published book Medical Effects of the Atomic Bomb in Japan, page 134, shows that hair loss rates peaked at 26 percent of survivors at 15 days after the Hiroshima strike, falling rapidly to a few percent at 40 days, while purpura (blood spots visible under the skin, due to a decreases in blood platelets which are essential to prevent such bleeding by clotting small blood vessel leaks effectively as soon as they occur) incidence peaked at 25 percent of survivors at 25-30 days after the Hiroshima burst, before falling rapidly to a few percent at 55 days.

Hiroshima and Nagasaki nuclear war exaggerations for the USSR backed surrender movement

Hiroshima and NagasakiThe Physical, Medical, and Social Effects of the Atomic Bombings contains an introduction which falsely implies that all deaths which occur anywhere downwind from the 1954 Bravo nuclear test are caused by radiation (page 4):

"A total of 290 people were affected - 239 inhabitants of three atolls in the area, of whom 46 people died during the period 1954-66 ..."

What is not stated is that the 46 people were deaths from natural causes.  The one fatality in the Marshallese group probably due to radiation occurred in 1972, a leukemia death.  You would expect to get over 1 percent mortality per year in any population due to natural mortality!  The Preface to the English edition dated 12 February 1981 makes similarly misleading propaganda claims, exaggerating the scaling laws of nuclear weapons effects and ignoring the smaller casualty rates in modern city concrete buildings, than in the wooden buildings that predominated in cities in 1945 Japan.  The facts given in the book do not, therefore, agree with the narrative dogma of anti-nuclear propaganda which is included in the book. The Preface admits that recovery of populations and wealth following nuclear war was rapid, despite the wooden houses being burned down and only concrete buildings surviving in the firestorm areas.

The fact is that radiation scare-mongering for political purposes as well as for Hollywood style science fantasy (On the Beach, Dr Strangelove, Planet of the Apes, etc.) terrorized many of the survivors and Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and caused the social and psychological fears which have proved unnecessary as the effects of radiation have become clearer.  This is obfuscated by those who try to use Hiroshima data peace propaganda, by falsely pretending that all deaths after a nuclear war are due to fallout.

One more interesting fact in Hiroshima and NagasakiThe Physical, Medical, and Social Effects of the Atomic Bombings is worth mentioning.  Tables 10.1 and 10.3 show that Hiroshima had 76,327 buildings of which 64,521 were wooden dwellings, and 47,969 were burned down with 3,818 demolished by blast alone.  But Nagasaki had 48,950 buildings of which only 11,574 (23.6 percent) were burned out and 1,326 were demolished by blast alone.  Lesser damage was sustained by the remaining buildings.  The variability in the total number of deaths in Hiroshima is also explained on page 470:

"To summarize the preceding sources, almost 50,000 Koreans lived in Hiroshima city at the time of the atomic bombing, and roughly 20,000 of these died."

The inclusion or exclusion of these Korean slaves causes a disagreement in the numbers killed for Hiroshima, in different sources.  For this reason, they are generally unreliable, and the important fact is that the mortality depended very strongly on the type of building (wood or concrete) and whether the people were standing and exposed to blast winds and flying glass, or lying prone and relatively safe from wind drag and debris.

Part IV of Hiroshima and NagasakiThe Physical, Medical, and Social Effects of the Atomic Bombings is labelled "Towards the abolition of nuclear arms" and consists of anti-nuclear weapons propaganda and pro-disarmament lobbying of the sort which created the 1930s appeasement era leading to WWII, and therefore makes for unpleasant reading.  However, it does describe the American secrecy, for example the decision to seize Japanese data on survival in Hiroshima and Nagasaki and to classify it as secret during the intense nuclear publicity period of the late 1940s, only declassifying some of the data in 1951 (when the San Francisco Peace Treaty was signed by Japan), well after public prejudices had hardened and the "science had settled" without the correct facts being included in the undemocratic debate.  The U.S. Strategic Bombing Survey in 1946 seized all the Japanese films and other data (page 510):

"All films, including 30,000 feet of negatives and other data, were requisitioned by the American authorities and sent to the United States in mid-May.  Only ten reels of film ... were left in Japan. ... The U.S. Strategic Bombing Survey [USSBS] had been organized by the U.S. Army in November 1944 to investigate the bombing effects in Germany.  On 15 August 1945, the day of surrender, President Harry S. Truman ordered the USSBS to investigate all effects of the atomic bombings on Japan and to report the findings to the United States departments of War and of the Navy.  This survey staff was headed by T. D'Oliver, assisted by Paul M. Nitze and Henry Alexander, and was composed of 1,150 personnel ..."

The role of Stalin's communist propaganda machine in the anti-nuclear movements of Japan is documented on page 573, to try to ban American nuclear deterrence that might interfere with communist expansion across Eastern Europe, prior to the first Russian nuclear test of August 1949:

"In August 1948 intellectuals from East and West met in [communist] Poland [location for the 1955 Warsaw Pact of Eastern Europe] for the World Congress of Intellectuals to Protect the Peace; and in April 1949 the First World Assembly to Protect the Peace was held in Paris and Prague.  The assembly committee called for 'an absolute ban on atomic weapons' and 'establishment of international supervision to guarantee its observance'."

Page 591:

"The Peace Problems Research Group was formed at Hiroshima University in September 1951.  In February 1953, volunteers from universities throughout Hiroshima City organized the University Group to Protect Peace and Learning ..."

Page 594 notes that the Japan Teachers Union, 500,000 members strong, began in June 1947 and was mobilized as a peace movement after the Korean War broke out in 1950, with 1951 seminars throughout Japan under the slogan "Don't send our students to the battlefield again."

Page 595 explains how the teachers unions peace propaganda then diversified into the Hiroshima anti-nuclear campaign, much to the horror of those conservatives in Japan who wanted to rearm for deterrence:

"Peace education was promoted in each prefectural teachers union.  The Yamaguchi Prefecture Teachers Union, for example, collected daily diaries ... excerpts ... from a primary school pupil's 1953 diary, expressed opposition to rearmament - and provoked fiery criticism about 'ideologically prejudiced education' from the conservative camp that was pushing for the rearmament of Japan."

The Chronology at pages 615-629, also page 6 for the typhoon on 17 September 1945 which wiped out a majority of the bridges of Hiroshima:

23 August 1945: Mainichi Shimbun newspaper reports false American claim that Hiroshima and Nagasaki will remain uninhabitable for 70 years due to radiation.

24 August 1945: Asahi Shimbun and Yomiuri Hochi Shinbun newspapers report false American claim that Hiroshima and Nagasaki will remain uninhabitable for 75 years due to radiation. (Five years longer than previous day's news.)

17 September 1945: typhoon hits Hiroshima, with flood waters sweeping away over half of the bridges of the city (which survived the nuclear blast on 6 August!).  Natural disasters can be worse than nuclear war.

3 September 1945: Russian spy and propaganda spreading "journalist" Wilfred Burchett arrives in Hiroshima and starts to write exaggerating accounts of radiation to drum up anti-nuclear movement to help Stalin.

7 February 1965: Democratic President Lyndon Johnson begins to bomb North Vietnam with disastrous results (ignoring the lessons of air power in WWII), instead of using nuclear weapons to blow down a proper demilitarized belt of jungle between North and South that could be patrolled safely from the air.  It is believed that this policy will avoid intensifying the Cold War, but it does the opposite, leads to failure when the economic costs become too high, and promotes communist-encouraging "peace" protests and thus appeasement with the massive USSR military build-up, continuing until Reagan opposed it during the 1980s.

Psychological effects of the Atomic Bombings and civil defense

The greatest irony of Hiroshima and NagasakiThe Physical, Medical, and Social Effects of the Atomic Bombings is that on page 14 it repeats the finding of Seiichi Nakano who in October 1952 surveyed the social-psychological effects incidence for 332 Hiroshima survivors as compared to a control group of 268 unexposed personnel in Kure City.  Nakano discovered that survivors within 1 km of ground zero in Hiroshima suffered trauma and guilt afterwards because most abandoned family members to escape soon after the explosion.  (Reference: Seiichi Nakano, "Sociological Study of Atomic Bomb Effects, in Genbaku to Hiroshima or The Atomic Bomb and Hiroshima, Collection of Research Papers of University Men's Group, first collection, University Group to Protect Peace and Learning, ed. Hiroshimaken Kyoshokuin Kumiai Jigyobu, Hiroshima.)  This is precisely in accordance with the 1966 Dirkwood Corporation analysis of rescue efforts in after the nuclear attacks in Japan (in AD0653922), which showed that only a few percent of people near ground zero were rescued by others, leading to guilt in the survivors.  This is therefore one of the strongest arguments for increasing world knowledge of nuclear weapons effects and civil defense rescue techniques.