Artificial Production of 14C From Nuclear Weapon Tests and Its Uptake by Man

Stenhouse, Michael John (1974) Artificial Production of 14C From Nuclear Weapon Tests and Its Uptake by Man. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

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The equilibrium distribution of natural 14C has been disturbed over the past two decades by the release to the atmosphere of produced in nuclear weapon tests. Observation of the rate at which the human body responds to the resultant pulse of activity in the atmosphere enables an assessment of the kinetics of tissue carbon transfer. In this way, the bulk of evidence, from comparison of experimentally measured 14C activities of human tissues with theoretically predicted corresponding 14C levels, indicates a mean residence time for soft tissue carbon of 6+/-4 years. In many organs analysed, a turnover time >10 years is apparent and the significance of such a slow turnover rate is discussed. No correlation between age of individual and mean residence time of tissue carbon is observed. Application of bomb-produced as a biochemical tracer is demonstrated via activity measurement of arterial lipid extracts; the results of such a study imply a turnover of lipid >10 years. Concern over the potential radiation burden of man-made 14C has been expressed; thus present and future dose levels to body tissues attributable to this radionuclide have been determined. On the basis of extensive data recently compiled on the somatic and genetic risks from ionising radiation, corresponding risk estimates for artificially produced have been prepared. The resultant estimates suggest that, owing to its dilution with inactive carbon derived from fossil fuel consumption, this source of radioactivity neither does nor will represent a severe threat to mankind. Overall, the net extent of severe damage over that from natural is assessed at 1100 offspring with genetic disorders, of which 20-40 occur in first generation offspring, while 20-40 persons will suffer from 14C-induced leukaemia. In a world population of 2.5x10e9, and over a period of 3 generations, such an incidence of damage is so low as to occur undetected.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: Nuclear chemistry
Date of Award: 1974
Depositing User: Enlighten Team
Unique ID: glathesis:1974-78681
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 30 Jan 2020 15:03
Last Modified: 30 Jan 2020 15:03

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