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Radioactive fallout from nuke tests 1.5 times higher than estimated.

TSUKUBA, Japan, July 15 Kyodo

Radioactive fallout from nuclear tests conducted by the United States and Soviet Union in the Northern Hemisphere prior to the 1970s was about 1.5 times higher than previously estimated, according to researchers at the Japan Meteorological Agency.

A research team led by Michio Aoyama, a senior researcher at the agency's Meteorological Research Institute, says scientists may need to review current estimates that fallout accounted for about 10 percent of environmental radiation exposure for those living in the Northern Hemisphere.

Radioactive dust released by nuclear testing descended into wide areas after reaching the stratosphere. The U.N. Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation has estimated that about 500 petabecquerels of cesium-137 had fallen into the Northern Hemisphere through nuclear tests before the 1970s.

Aoyama and his team analyzed data from 1970 on the atmosphere, soil and seawater of about 30 countries and concluded that the amount of fallout totaled about 700 petabecquerels -- about 1.5 times more than previously estimated after the margin of error was taken into account.

The team believes that the amount of fallout of other radioactive materials such as strontium-90 is also about 1.5 times higher than previously estimated.

Past analysis did not correctly reflect fallout into the sea, according to Aoyama.

The United States and the Soviet Union frequently conducted atmospheric nuclear tests in the 1950s and 1960s. The number of such tests before 1970 totaled more than 450, according to the U.S. Natural Resources Conservation Service.
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Publication:Japan Energy Scan
Date:Jul 19, 2004
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