Fallout and radiostrontium

Stanwix, Philip R (1961) Fallout and radiostrontium. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

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This thesis is the description of an investigation carried out to study the fallout of Strontium-90, produced from nuclear weapons testing. Since strontium is chemically similar to calcium, it will become fixed in bone when taken in the diet, and the long half-life of Sr-90 means that it is a long-term hazard. Isolated swmples of grass taken from the Perthshire hills in 1957 had shown a high level of Sr-90 activity compared with pasture grass from cultivated fields in the south of England. This difference was due partly to the much higher rainfall in Perthshire, and to the agricultural conditions. There was therefore a need to study the levels of Sr-90 contamination in high rainfall areas, since the Sr-90 taken up by grass finds its way into the human body, with cows' milk as the intermediate. Although the first atomic bomb was exploded in July 1945, it was not until the first thermonuclear explosion in November 1952 that fallout began to assume its characteristic world-wide deposition. This is because the much greater release of energy from the 'hydrogen' bomb lifts the fission products into the long-range air currents of the upper atmosphere. The bombs tested before November 1952 were fission bombs of sufficiently low yield to prevent much distant fallout, and the radioactive debris was deposited near the test site, and over suitably uninhabited areas. It was recognised from the beginning of weapons testing that fallout could be a serious hazard. The testing of the first Soviet atomic bomb, and the realisation that any nation possessing a monopoly of thermonuclear weapons would have complete military supremacy, started the present arms race towards thermonuclear stockpiling. It is against this political background that the picture of Sr-90 fallout must be viewed. With the universal public concern over the dangers from fallout it is now expedient for the three nations at present in possession of thermonuclear weapons to self-impose a ban on tests. Due to this concern, in 1956 the Food Science Department of the Royal College of Science and Technology, Glasgow, was invited to carry out a survey of Sr-90 in foodstuffs in the Glasgow area. The initial results of this survey led to the instigation of the more detailed investigation which comprises this thesis.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Additional Information: Adviser: John Hawthorn
Keywords: Food science, Toxicology
Date of Award: 1961
Depositing User: Enlighten Team
Unique ID: glathesis:1961-72663
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 11 Jun 2019 11:06
Last Modified: 11 Jun 2019 11:06
URI: http://theses.gla.ac.uk/id/eprint/72663

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