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Multiple Efforts Directed at Defining, Eliminating Excess Radiation

Beverly Merz
JAMA. 1987;258(5):577. doi:10.1001/jama.1987.03400050011001.
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THE FIRST MAJOR REPORT on the adverse health effects of ionizing radiation appeared in The Journal 62 years ago (JAMA 1925;85:1769-1776). It was entitled "Some Unrecognized Dangers in the Use of and the Handling of Radioactive Substances." The "dangers" were severe illness and death.

The report, written by Harrison S. Martland, MD, Philip Conlon, MD, and Joseph P. Knef, DDS, summarized a series of events that began with the use of roentgen rays and radioactive substances in medicine and industry at the turn of the century. It noted cases of radium-induced burns and dermatitis in chemists; mentioned reports of the deaths from aplastic anemia and cancer among radiologists; and identified osteomyelitis of the mandible as an occupation-related disorder among workers in luminous dial factories.

The investigators also noted that expired air from dial painters with osteomyelitis and anemia was radioactive, as was bone, spleen, and liver tissue taken from a


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