Applied Research Associates Arlington United States
A nuclear detonation would expose a large number of individuals to radiation, thermal, and blast environments. Radiation would be particularly harmful near the detonation and in the path of the fallout. The health effects resulting from an absorbed radiation dose depend on age, gender, comorbidities, and other factors. Of these factors, animal data suggests that age has a large impact on radiosensitivity. Historically, casualty estimates have not accounted for individual variability in radiation dose response. To examine the impact of age-dependent radiation response, three scenarios involving a nuclear detonation in a heavily populated region were simulated to compare traditional fallout fatality estimates to age-dependent fallout fatality estimates. In each of the three scenarios, the size of the affected area increased significantly for radiosensitive age groups, and in two of the scenarios, accounting for age resulted in an approximate 10 increase in estimated fallout fatalities. These results demonstrate that the inclusion of age-based demographic data could provide useful information for emergency management planners.