As a student in Radiology School, I am often asked the never-ending question; is radiation safe? My answer is simple: in everyday life, we are surrounded by radiation, some of which is artificial and some that is backgroundradiation which naturally exists everywhere in the environment. These levels of radiation are clearly safe. If they were not, life on Earth would not continue to exist.
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However, there is a small percentage of people who are heavily exposed to radiation that may develop radiation-induced cancers or other various defects later in life. This type of radiation effects people who are: involved in radiation accidents in their occupations, being treated for existing cancer with radiation therapy, and one specifically that I will discuss is exposure to radiation from nuclear weapons, in reference to the bombings on Hiroshima.
Nearly 73 years later, many people of the U.S. still do not know or understand the story behind Hiroshima and what has been the result from the atomic bombings along what that meant for life following the occurrence and beyond relating to us today. By definition, an atomic bomb is a bomb that derives its destructive power from the rapid release of nuclear energy by fission of heavy atomic nuclei, causing damage through heat, blast, and radioactivity. In this paper, I will discuss the background and purpose for the bombing of Hiroshima, paired with compelling evidence and results that effected the U.S. and Japanese populations and history in relation to radiation protection. My research demonstrates the long-term effects of radiation exposure lead to increased cancer rates in the survivors, genetic mutations, and many other short and long terms effects due to the atomic bombings.
First, I’d like to discuss background information on Hiroshima. In August 1945, the U.S. was in the final stages of World War II. With hopes to quickly and efficiently end the war, President Truman made the decision to utilize nuclear weapons – for the first and only time in a military combat and history. The U.S. used not one, but two atomic bombsone of which was released over the Japanese city of Hiroshima on August 6, 1945 and the second bomb followed three days later upon the city of Nagasaki. According to an article by the Federal Office for Radiation Protection in Germany, within seconds after the bombings, nearly 80%of the cities were completely destroyed through shock and heat waves of at least 6,000?°C. Picture a massive cloud of heat you can feel from miles away, sparatic light too bright to look towards, dust, ash, and radioactive waste and particles consuming the airthis was the terrifying result of the release of the bombings. Once the bombs had reached their full explosive potential, the surrounding area rained of radioactive fallout for a minimum of twenty minutes. Records show that victims died immediately on site or later as a result of the acute or delayed effects ofionizing radiation. Due to the extensive damage from the bombing that resulted in entire destruction of the two cities, many records and population registers were unrecoveredleaving us with an approximate, but not exact number of deaths. According to estimates, up to 80,000 people in Hiroshima and up to 40,000 in Nagasaki died directly and just as many were injured. For those who did not died on impact, they suffered from many other negative, detrimental radiation effects.
My first topic of evidence I’d like to discuss is why the U.S. chose atomic bombing as a means of ending the war. In the midst of WWII, studies have shown the Japanese military to have over a million soldiers, 3,000 Kamikaze aircrafts, and 5,000 suicide boats available to defend its homeland. In efforts to protect and preserve the U.S. population, along with its active soldiers, President Harry S. Truman, made the decision to drop the atomic bombs on Japan in hopes to end the war and save many lives of U.S. soldiers in place of invading their land.
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