Article ID: CBB903994495

Locating the Boundaries of the Nuclear North: Arctic Biology, Contaminated Caribou, and the Problem of the Threshold (2021)

unapi

This essay is a historical–geographical account of how scientists and public health officials conceptualized and assessed northern radioactive exposures in the late 1950s and 1960s. The detection of radionuclides in caribou bodies in northern Canada both demonstrated the global reach of nuclear fallout and revealed the unevenness of toxic relations and radioactive exposures. Following the documentation of the lichen–caribou–human pathway of exposure, Canadian public health officials became increasingly concerned about the possibility of heightened radioactive exposures among Indigenous northerners. Between 1963 and 1969, scientists and officials with Canada’s Radiation Protection Division (RPD) coordinated an interdepartmental monitoring program through which they sought to determine whether the consumption of contaminated caribou meat had caused radioactive exposure levels in northern communities to exceed the officially recognized “safe limits.” In 1969, the northern monitoring program was suspended after officials determined that radionuclide body burdens had not exceeded the threshold for radioactive exposures. While the RPD emphasized its development of a technoscientific approach to measuring radioactive body burdens, the legitimacy of the monitoring program was linked directly to interdepartmental relations within Canada’s colonial northern administration. I situate the northern monitoring program within broader shifts in public health approaches to radiation protection and use Gabrielle Hecht’s concept of nuclearity to demonstrate how RPD officials employed the logic of the threshold in their assessment of radioactive exposures.

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Article Jacob Hamblin; Linda M. Richards (2021) Connecting to the Living History of Radiation Exposure. Journal of the History of Biology (pp. 1-6). unapi

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http://data.isiscb.org/isis/citation/CBB903994495/

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Authors & Contributors
Hamblin, Jacob Darwin
Lorenzoni, I.
Poortinga, W.
Bickerstaff, K.
Pidgeon, N. F.
Simmons, P.
Journals
Canadian Bulletin of Medical History/Bulletin Canadien d'Histoire de la Medecine
Journal of the History of Biology
Osiris: A Research Journal Devoted to the History of Science and Its Cultural Influences
Public Understanding of Science
Cultural Anthropology
Journal of Asian Studies
Publishers
University of California Press
University of Minnesota Press
University of Calgary Press
Michigan State University
Yale University Press
UBC Press
Concepts
Environmental pollution
Nuclear and radioactive waste
Indigenous peoples; indigeneity
Public health
Science and politics
Medicine and government
People
Porsild, Alf Erling
Places
Canada
United States
Arctic regions
Great Britain
Sweden
France
Times
20th century, late
21st century
20th century
20th century, early
17th century
16th century
Institutions
Atomic Bomb Casualty Commission
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