The Department of Defense
RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT BOARD
COMMITTEE ON MEDICAL SCIENCES
COMMITTEE ON ATOMIC ENERGY
Washington 25, D.C.
JOINT PANEL ON MEDICAL ASPECTS OF ATOMIC WARFARE
Minutes of Seventh Meeting
Held on 25-26 January 1951
The University of Rochester School of Medicine
Rochester, New York
BAW 3/7 SECRET
MEMBERS AND DEPUTIES PRESENT:
Dr. Joseph C. Aub, Chairman
Dr. Franklin C. McLean
Dr. Rocley D. Evans
Dr. Robert R. Newel
Dr. Louis H. Hempelmann
Brig. Gen. Elbert DeCoursey, USA
Lt. Col. Frank L. Bauer, NC,USA
Maj. Gerald M. McDonnel, MC, USA
Capt. C.F. Behrens, MC, USN
Capt. V.C. Tipton, MC, USN
Dr. Sidney R. Galler, ONR
Dr. M.C. Fishler, NRDL
Lt. Col. John M. Talbot, USAF (MC)
Col. Robert H. Blount, USAF (MC)
ASSOCIATE MEMBERS PRESENT:
Mr. Allen W. Pond, USPHS
Lt. Col. Wm. J. Brown, MC, USA, Log. Div., GS USA
Dr. H.E. Pearse, Panel on Thermal Radiation, AFSWP
Dr. Joseph M. Pisani
Dr. Thomas B. Spencer
Dr. Harry C. Ehrmantraut
Lt. Col. Hal Bridges, MC,USA
Cdr. Joseph P. Pollard, MN, USN
Lt. Col. Charles E. Melcher, USAF (MC)
THIS DOCUMENT IS DOWNGRADED TO "CONFIDENTIAL" UPON REMOVAL OF SECRET
RECORD GROUP: #330
FILE: 3/Panel on Medical Aspects and Atomic Warfare - Agenda
NARA Date 8/20/93
THIS DOCUMENT CONTAINS INFORMATION AFFECTING THE NATIONAL DEFENSE OF
THE UNITED STATES WITHIN THE MEANING OF THE ESPIONAGE LAWS, TITLE 18,
U.S.C., SECTIONS 793 AND 794. ITS TRANSMISSION OR THE REVELATION OF
ITS CONTENTS IN ANY MANNER TO ANY UNAUTHORIZED PERSON IS PROHIBITED BY
Dr. Wallace O. Fann, Comte on Medical Sciences
Dr. Paul Beall, RDB
Mr. David Z. Beckler, Comte on Atomic Energy
Mr. F. H. Quimby, ONR
Dr. L. W. Tuttle, AEC
1. Minutes of the Sixth Meeting
After a discursion of the implementation of the Minutes, including
recommendations of the group concerning the catastrophe team project
now being formulated,
Approved the Minutes of the Sixth Meeting
2. Technical Estimates, 1951
After reviewing the pertinent documents,
Prepared its Technical Estimates for 1951, BAW 13/4, Log. No. 38684,
appended hereto as Attachment A.
3. Resume Reports on research progress in Technical Areas.
A. Dr. McLean reported on the handling of catastrophes in the
discussion of the catastrophe team project.
B. Lt. Col. Talbot reported on problems important to aviation.
C. Other reports were deferred until a future meeting.
4. Effects of Ionizing Radiation on Primates.
In the absence of Dr. Andres, Mr. Pond reported on the status of this
project for the Panel's information. The Minutes of the meeting on an
Ad Hoc Panel (NIH) which considered this project and made pertinent
recommendations to the National Advisory Cancer Committee.
are appended as Attachment B for Panel Members only. No action has
been taken on these recommendations, and they are appended only for
5. Human Experimentation.
General James P. Cooney was unable to attend the Panel meeting but
indicated that the following should be entered into the Minutes of the
At the meeting of the Advisory Group to he Division of Biology and
Medicine of the Atomic Energy Commission which occurred shortly after
the Sixth Panel Meeting (31 Oct-1 Nov 1950), the three Services were
represented by Admiral Geaves, General Powell and General Cooney, who
were queried concerning any problems that they might have for the
Advisory Panel to consider. General Cooney addressed Dr. Alan Gregg,
the Chairman of the Advisory Committee by indicating that the military
had a definite problem because of the fact that the atomic bomb might
possibly be used as a tactical weapon. Under such conditions it is
reasonable to assume that a large force might be subjected to aerial
bombardment and a relatively short time later the commanding officer
would confront his Medical Officer with the following: "I have 'X'
thousands of men who have been subjected to various amounts of
ionizing radiation from 25 to 150r or more. How many men can I take
into battle? How many will be sick? When will they be sick How many
replacements shall I request and when shall I ask for them?" Up to
the present time the military has expressed opinions concerning
answers to the above but there has been no official backing by any
authoritative medical group. Many individuals feel that we have
sufficient data on humans to give those answers. Others feel we do
not and therefore some human experimentation should be done on
military volunteers to whom the effects of ionizing radiation have
been explained in detail.
Military medicine has the responsibility of maintaining high medical
standards which the American Medical Association and other allied
groups insist upon. If American medicine were satisfied with the data
on the effect of ionizing radiation on humans, then military medicine
would also be satisfied. If such information is not available, then
it was requested that procedures be outlined to obtain same.
The Advisory panel then had a long discussion on the problem of human
experimentation and it was the consensus of this group that human
experimentation was probably not the answer at this time due to the
fact that in order to obtain statistically significant results several
thousand people would have to be exposed to ionizing radiation. Dr.
Shields Warren expressed his opinion that sufficient data was already
at hand. Dr. Gregg then asked the representatives of the Services
whether or not they would like to have him convene a panel of men who
have had a large amount of experience n this field as members. The
representatives from the Services welcomed this suggestion and as a
result a meeting was held on 8 December 1950 in Washington.
BAW 3/7 SECRET
(The results of this meeting are contained in the letter, appended as
Attachment C, BAW 10/3, which was distributed at the Panel. The
subject letter was addressed to Mr. Robert LeBaron, Chairman of the
Military Liaison Committee by Mr. Boyer of the Atomic Energy
Commission. The Military Liaison Committee disseminated this letter
to the Chief of Staff of the Army, the Chief of Staff of the Air Force
and the Chief of Naval Operations, who in turn have disseminated this
information widely to the individual Services.)
Those opinions, since they are based upon impressions rather than
experimental data, do not negate the necessity for human
experimentation at some future date. It is felt, however, that the
acute need for this human experimentation has been somewhat relieved
and therefore diligent efforts for the establishment of this program
may be temporarily curtailed. Implications and impression never
6. Report on Ventilation Systems of Airplanes.
Radiation Hazards in Air Force Operations.
In connection with the question of fission product contamination of
the cabin atmosphere and surfaces of aircraft flying through a
radioactively contaminated atmosphere, calculations suggest that the
inhalation hazard for crew members in anticipated AW situations is
negligible but that the likelihood of extremely serious external gamma
ray exposure is a real one. Col. Blount requested the Panel opinion
on the need for filtering cabin pressurizing and ventilating.
BAW 3/7 SECRET
DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE
RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT BOARD
COMMITTEE ON MEDICAL SCIENCES
COMMITTEE ON ATOMIC ENERGY
WASHINGTON 25, D.C.
26 January 1951
BAW 13/4 Log No. 38684 Copy No. 88
JOINT PANEL ON MEDICAL ASPECTS OF ATOMIC WARFARE
TECHNICAL ESTIMATES, 1951
The Joint Panel on Medical Aspects of Atomic Warfare submits the
following technical estimates pertaining to its interest in AW-5 and
1. Biological Effects of radiation. Of the many effects of
radiation upon biological systems the chief concern of this panel is
with the dosages of external radiation (chiefly gamma rays) and of
internal radiation (chiefly alpha and beta emitters) which are of
immediate military significance in that they will reduce the
effectiveness of troops, produce casualties, or compel the evaluation
of occupied areas. Long term effects, such as reduction in fertility,
increase in the number of mutations, and reduction in the ultimate
life span of exposed individuals, will be the concern of military
planners, but will hardly affect the decision of commanders in the
External gamma radiation. Tentative figures for doses of total body
gamma radiation, acceptable as military risks, have been adopted by
competent authority, and these figures are available for the guidance
of planners and commanders until they are corrected on the basis of
experience. Such experience can be gained by observation of human
volunteers, or under actual combat conditions. Further light may also
be thrown on the subject by additional animal experimentation, such as
the exposures of large animals planned at Oak Ridge, and the
observations on primates now proposed under the joint auspices of the
National Institutes of Health and the Atomic Energy Commission. In
the meantime, the influence of other factors, such as time-intensity,
depth-dose, and concurrent injury (burns, etc.) upon the effects of
external radiation, is under study by means of animal experimentation.
(This document contains information affecting the national defense of
the United States within the meaning of the Espionage Law, Title 18,
U.S.C., Sections 793 and 794. The transmission or the revelation of
its contents in any manner to an unauthorized person is prohibited by
"Depository Furnished Copy 2-15-51"
Attachment A to BAW 3/1
Internal Radiation. (Chiefly inhalation of alpha and beta emitters).
The assessment of the hazard from possible inhalation of radioactive
material is complicated by the time of burst, the variety of
materials, their solubilities and their local and systemic deposition
and effects after inhalation. Further developments in instrumentation
are also required to assess the hazard under any given conditions.
At the present rate of progress, a reasonably satisfactory
understanding of the many variables involved in the hazard from
inhalation of alpha and beta emitters should be available by 1956.
2. Therapy of Radiation Injury. The therapy of radiation injury is
under intensive investigation in animals and present methods of
treatment should be thoroughly tested by 1953 (1954). The use of
antibiotics as an adjunct to general supportive therapy is still the
most promising of the methods now under study. The use of antibiotics
together with the improved facilities for patient care and
administration of supportive therapy should decrease the number of
deaths by 50%. Long range technical estimates on improvement in the
treatment of radiation injuries will depend entirely upon future
discoveries in the field of radiation biology and associated sciences.
3. Protection of Personnel. Protection against hazards of radiation
may be obtained by various means including evasive action, whole and
partial body shielding, decontamination, and the use of substances
which are under investigation. At the present rate of progress in the
discovery and evaluation of protective substances and technic, there
will be a choice of methods by 1954 which will reduce mortalities by
50%. The means of collective and individual protection against
radioactive particulates are now available. Efficient filters and
masks have been developed and knowledge is adequate concerning skin
protection. The successful use of these means is largely dependent
upon indoctrination and discipline.
4. Thermal Burns. The problem of thermal burns in atomic warfare,
from the practical standpoint of care and casualties, is by far the
most important. In spite of the enormous research effort in this
field, there is little prospect of markedly reducing this hazard in
atomic explosions or of protecting against it beyond our present state
of knowledge. It is expected that the use of protective clothing will
be evaluated by 1952. In the treatment of thermal burn casualties, it
is expected that between 1954-1956 (1955-1958) significant reduction
(50%) in fatalities will be achieved by means of development of
procedures, selection and stockpiling of essential medical materiel,
and development of fundamental knowledge for indoctrination of
5. Blast. The hazards of blast effects in atomic weapons will be
assessed by 1953 (1952). This is because of unavoidable difficulties
and consequent delays in the construction of the blast generator.
From the current and contemplated level of effort, better
understanding of atomic blast injuries and a more accurate approach to
the general problem of blast casualties are expected. However,
improvements in hazard reduction, protective measures and therapy are
in the main unlikely or conjectural.
6. Decontamination of Food and Medicinals. Essential information
for the decontamination of certain type of packaged foods and
medicinals (as in undamaged metal waterproof containers) under some
environmental conditions is now generally available but not completely
evaluated. However, a choice of techniques will probably be available
for application and/or refinement by 1952. Knowledge about the
decontamination of animal and vegetable crops raised in contaminated
land and/or water areas is not well evaluated and will not be
available for application before 1954.
7. Decontamination of Water Supplies. Information necessary for the
decontamination of domestic and industrial water supplies is 50%
available but not completely evaluated. A choice of techniques and
equipment will be ready for large scale application in 1953.
Information about permissible dosages needed for producing
potable water under energy field conditions from sources contaminated
with short-lived radioactive materials is available for immediate use.
Therefore, the beta-gamma tolerance values are most useful during
periods not exceeding a month after a nuclear explosion. Permissible
dosage information for the production of potable water under emergency
field conditions from sources containing long-lived radioactive
contaminants will be available by 1952.
8. Personnel and Equipment. Basic information needed for the
external decontamination of personnel and equipment under some
operating conditions is being obtained at a satisfactory rate and a
choice of decontamination techniques should be available by 1952.
9. Decontamination under Extreme Environmental Conditions. The
problems associated with the decontamination of personnel and
equipment under extreme environmental conditions (arctic, desert or
other areas where water is not readily available) have not been
evaluated. Effective evaluation should be accomplished in one year
after such a program is initiated.
10. Decontamination of Burned and/or Wounded Personnel. Basic
information needed for the establishment of standard procedures for
the decontamination of burned and/or otherwise wounded area of the
skin will be approximately 50% available by 1952 and completely
available by 1955.
11. The Effects of Sublethal Dose Irradiation upon Spontaneous
activity. Motivation, Learning,and retention of learning, in
Laboratory Animals. In rats, a good evaluation for activity and
motivation will be available by 1953; for learning and retention of
learning by 1954. By 1952, these investigation will have been
extended to monkeys and a quantitative evaluation should be obtained
ATOMIC ENERGY COMMISSION
Washington 25, D.C.
copy BAW 10/3
January 10, 1951
Honorable Robert LeBaron
Chairman, Military Liaison Committee
P.O. Box 1814
Washington 25, D. C.
Dear Dr. LeBaron:
As you know, one of the important problems that would confront us in
the event of a war in which nuclear weapons were employed would be of
external radiation from radioactive materials that military personnel
could tolerate and still effectively carry out their assigned duties
and missions in the Armed Forces. This problem was a principal
subject of discussion at the November 10, 1950 meeting of the Atomic
Energy Commission's Advisory Committee for Biology and Medicine. In
attendance at this meeting were Rear Admiral F.C. Greaves and Captain
C.F. Behrens of the Bureau of Medicine and Surgery, Brigadier General
William H. Powell, Jr., of the Office of the Surgeon General, Air
Force, and Brigadier General James P. Coney, Army Medical Corps, and
Chief of the Radiology Branch, Division of Military Application,
Atomic Energy Commission. It was suggested at this meeting that it
would be helpful to the Armed Forces to have the opinions of an ad hoc
commission, composed of physicians and radiologists whose
recommendations would be recognized as authoritative, to advise the
Armed services of the permissible levels of radiation to which troops
could be exposed and still be expected to be effective as fighting
In order to obtain an accurate and authoritative answer to the
question raised at this meeting, the Division of Biology and Medicine
of the Atomic Energy Commission has consulted with a group of the
physicians and scientists of this country whose experience in this
field has been broadest and most extensive, and whose reputation for
clear thinking and good judgment renders their advice and opinions of
very great value. This group includes clinicians and radiologists
experienced in the use of X-ray and radium in the treatment of human
patients and who have had occasion to radiate the human body in such
treatments; it includes physicians and scientists who were in Japan at
the close of the last war and carefully studied bomb victims at
Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the physician who treated the victims of the
three accidents involving acute radiation injury in the history of the
Manhattan Project and the Atomic Energy Commission; scientists who
have conducted and are well acquainted with the results of experiments
on the effects of radiation on
Attachment C to BAW 3/7
various aspects of experimental animals, including the genetic effects
of radiation; and physicians who were members of the Medical Board of
Review which appraised the medical work of the Manhattan Engineering
On December 8 these men met as a group in Washington at the request of
the Atomic Energy Commission. Attending and taking part in this
Dr. Alan Gregg, Director of the Division of Medical Sciences
Rockefeller Foundation, and Chairman of the AEC Advisory Committee for
Biology and Medicine, who acted as chairman of this meeting.
Dr. Austin M. Brues, Associate Professor of Medicine, University of
Chicago Medical School, and Senior Biologist and Director of the
Division of Biological and Medical Research, Argonne National
Laboratory of the AEC.
Dr. Simeon T. cantril, Radiologist with the Tumor Institute of the
Swedish Hospital, Seattle, Washington. Consultant to the Atomic
Energy Commission and to General Electric Company in their operation
at Hanford Works during the last war full time with the Manhattan
Dr. Andrew H. Dowdy, Professor of Radiology and Chairman of the
Department, Medical School of the University of California at Los
Angeles, formerly Professor of Radiology at the University of
Rochester Medical School and head of the Atomic Energy Commission
research laboratories located there.
Dr. Louis H. Hemplemann, Associate Professor of Radiology at the
University of Rochester Medical School, Special Assistant to the
Director of the Division of Biology and Medicine
Dr. Robert F. Leob, Bard Professor of Medicine, College of Physicians
and Surgeons, Columbia University, Specialist in Pathology and
Internal Medicine, Chairman, Medical Board of Review, Atomic Energy
Dr. Curt Stern, Geneticist and Professor of Zoology, University of
California, member of AEC Advisory Committee for Biology and Medicine,
formerly Chairman of division of Biological Sciences, University of
Rochester, and geneticist with the AEC Atomic Energy Project located
Dr. Shields Warren, Professor of Pathology, Harvard University Medical
School, Division of Biology and Medicine, Atomic Energy Commission.
Brigadier General James P. Cooney for the Army, Admiral Thomas C.
Anderson and Dr. Robert Flynn for the National Security Resources
Board, and Major Gerrit L. Hakuis for the Air Force.
The last-mentioned group attended this meeting for the purpose of
presenting to the group in further detail the problems in this field
already raised by the armed forces and to obtain personally the
conclusions and recommendations of this committee on the subjects of
importance to the harmed forces and civilian defense agencies.
Members of the Division of Biology and Medicine of the AEC noted as
staff to this committee in collecting and summarizing pertinent
available research data and clinical information and presenting it to
the committee for their consideration.
As a supplement to information gained personally by armed force and
civilian defense representatives at this meeting, the committee has
asked me to write this letter summarizing their views on the pertinent
questions asked them.
This letter was submitted to each of them for any suggestions or
corrections they cared to make, and I can now tell you that the
members of this committee were in unanimous agreement that what
follows is a correct summary of their joint conclusions.
Question 1: Assume that troops are acutely exposed to penetrating
ionizing radiation (gamma rays). At what dosage level will they
become ineffective as troops?
Answer of the Committee: Uniform dosage of 50r to a group of armed
force personnel will not appreciable affect their efficiency as a
Uniform acute dosage of 100r will produce in occasional individuals
nausea and vomiting, but not to an extent that will render armed force
personnel at any time ineffective as fighting units. Troops receiving
an acute radiation dose of 100r and above ought to be given, as soon
as feasible (within a week, if possible), a period for rest and
Uniform acute dosage approximately 150r or greater can be expected
rapidly (in a few hours) to render armed force personnel as a group
ineffective as troops through a substantial incidence of nausea,
vomiting, weakness and prostration. Mortality produced by an acute
dose of 150r will be very low and eventual recovery of physical
fitness usually may be expected.
Field officers should therefore assume that if substantial numbers of
their men receive acute radiation doses substantially above 100r,
there is grave risk that their commands will rapidly become
ineffective as fighting units.
Question 2: What dosage will render an air crew inefficient, that is,
unable to complete a mission, during a flight of one to three hours,
four to twelve hours, twelve to forty-eight hours?
Answer of the Committee: In all three cases if radiation damage to
flight crew members is held below 75r, radiation exposure will be
unimportant in determining the success or failure of a mission
provided the crew members had not previously received an appreciable
amount of radiation. In all three cases radiation doses substantially
above 75r, combined with human stresses associated with military
aviation missions in wartime, are considered to very seriously reduce
the odds for successful completion of a mission.
Question 3: How often may an aircraft crew accept an exposure of 25r
per mission and still be a reasonable risk for subsequent missions?
Answer of the Committee: It is probable that at least eight missions
can be carried out at weekly or longer intervals, with exposure of 25r
per mission, before the chance of mission failure becomes large due
either to illness during the mission or significant general
deterioration in health and ability. More missions may be feasible,
but personnel should be carefully checked and evaluated before each
mission and particularly before a decision to permit grater exposure
than 200r total in these divided doses is made.
The possibility should not be ignored that cumulative radiation doses
to the entire body above 200r may substantially reduce the life
expectancy of the irradiated individual.
Question : A submarine crew are receiving 25r permission. How many
missions should they be allowed to make?
Answer of the Committee: The answer is substantially the same as to
question 3. It is probable that a least eight missions can be carried
out. Personnel ought to be carefully checked and evaluated after each
mission. The possibility of substantial reduction in life expectancy
by radiation doses totally over 200r should not be ignored.
As indicated earlier, in arriving at these conclusions the Committee
took into account the results of extensive animal experiments, the
response of patients treated for disease by X-ray and radium,
observations on the effect of radiation from the atom bomb detonated
over the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and accidental
radiation exposures within the Manhattan Project and the Atomic Energy
I believe you can accept these values as realistic appraisals that can
be used in planning with the convictions that their predictions will
be closely fulfilled in practice.
We are sending copies of this letter to the Chief of the Bureau o of
Medicine and Surgery, Department of the Navy, and the Surgeons General
of the Army and Air Force.
Marion W. Boyer