Medical Science: What Will a Dirty Bomb Mean to the General Population

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Procrastination is easy, especially in preparing for events you don't want to think about. But since we told you about the New Jersey bus ads on radiation emergencies, new happenings might make you want to step up your preparedness efforts.

The British Daily Mail ran an Oct 19 article on New York City's Cold War fallout shelters. It provided information on how New Yorkers could find the nearest shelter, while showing many photos of the shelters' deplorable condition (see figure). There are no supplies, and no radiation measuring instruments such as Geiger counters.

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Safe room under Brooklyn Bridge with forgotten 1950s supplies.

Russian defense minister Sergei Shoigu made phone calls to his counterparts in the U.S., UK, France, and Turkey, warning that Ukraine was planning to explode a "dirty bomb" (radiological dispersal device) and blame it on Russia. Ukraine denies this. Ukraine has the ability to make a dirty bomb, and Zelensky has mentioned it, but the significance of various officials' statements is unclear.

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Ukraine is reportedly evacuating civilians from Nicholaev (Mykolayiv), which lies on the road between Russian-occupied Kherson City and Odessa, and is supplying Geiger counters and protective gear to the military.

The U.S. has purchased $290 million worth of Nplate, a drug approved for immune thrombocytopenia, which might be useful for radiation sickness.

The Biden Administration says that the risk of "Armageddon" is at the highest level since the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis.

The main effect of a "dirty bomb" itself is to cause panic and chaos; it has been called a "weapon of mass disruption." Americans have been taught, falsely, that there is no safe dose of radiation, but in reality few would get a dangerous dose from a dirty bomb.

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It might, however, lead to direct confrontation between the U.S. and Russia, for example, if the troops in the U.S. 101st Airborne Division recently deployed to Romania try to enter Odessa. There is no clear stopping point for escalation of conflict between nuclear-armed parties.

As mentioned, in an earlier posting there are precautions that can be done to prepare for the possibility of radiation exposure and poisoning.

·               Make sure that you and yours have the information on the 60-second training card.

·               Consider obtaining a radiation detector suitable for wartime doses or make a Kearny Fallout Meter yourself (instructions in Nuclear War Survival Skills).

·         Download a copy of Nuclear War Survival Skills and print it out. Also buy a printed copy—there is invaluable information for surviving any type of crisis.

·         Read at least the first 30 pages.

·         Be sure you have water, food, medications, batteries, and essential supplies.

·         If you are a first responder, contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. regarding the possibility of obtaining expedient radiation detectors for yourself and your crew.

·         Do not panic or despair. IF you have minimal knowledge, chances for survival and health are very good.

·         Additional resources at and

·         Videos of the Arizona nuclear preparedness tour are at

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Jane M. Orient, M.D. obtained her undergraduate degrees in chemistry and mathematics from the University of Arizona in Tucson, and her M.D. from Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons in 1974. She completed an internal medicine residency at Parkland Memorial Hospital and University of Arizona Affiliated Hospitals and then became an Instructor at the University of Arizona College of Medicine and a staff physician at the Tucson Veterans Administration Hospital. She has been in solo private practice since 1981 and has served as Executive Director of the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons (AAPS) since 1989.

She is currently president of Doctors for Disaster Preparedness. She is the author of YOUR Doctor Is Not In: Healthy Skepticism about National Healthcare, and the second through fifth editions of Sapira's Art and Science of Bedside Diagnosis published by Wolters Kluwer. She authored books for school children, Professor Klugimkopf's Old-Fashioned English Grammar and Professor Klugimkopf's Spelling Method, published by Robinson Books, and coauthored two novels published as Kindle books, Neomorts and Moonshine. 

More than 100 of her papers have been published in the scientific and popular literature on a variety of subjects including risk assessment, natural and technological hazards and non-hazards, and medical economics and ethics. She is the editor of AAPS News, the Doctors for Disaster Preparedness Newsletter, and Civil Defense Perspectives, and is the managing editor of the Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons.

If you would like to discuss these issues, contact me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Jane M. Orient, M.D., Executive Director, Association of American Physicians and Surgeons.

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