Jean M. Bele
Physics Dept., Laboratory for Nuclear Science, MIT
The release of radiation is a phenomenon unique to nuclear explosions. There are several kinds of radiation emitted; these types include gamma, neutron, and ionizing radiation, and are emitted not only at the time of detonation Initial radiation but also for long periods of time afterward Residual Radiation.
People who survive the physical shockwave and heat may suffer health effects from radiation. The health effects of radiation depend on the:
• Amount of radiation absorbed by the body (the dose, measured in unit called rads),
• Type of radiation,
• Route of exposure (absorbed by the body, inhaled, or ingested),
• Length of time exposed.
If a reasonable estimate can be made of a person’s dose, health effects at that dose can be predicted
with good accuracy. There are both short- and long-term effects of radiation.1
For more information about radiation effects on Human, see Radiation Effects on Human
For more information about dose conversion, go to Radiation Units and Conversion Factors
1A fact sheet from the National Academies and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security
Notes: The nuclear bomb dropped on Hiroshima during World War II yielded 15 kilotons and the one dropped on Nagasaki was almost 20 kilotons. Today most powerful nuclear weapon yields are over 1000 kilotons, almost 660 more powerful then the Hiroshima bomb.
Calculation of the Initial neutron dose as function of slant range from fission and thermonuclear weapon air burst based on 0.9 normal sea-level air density
Enter the weapon yield in kilotons: