If there was a nuclear explosion and years later I come out of a fallout shelter like in the popular game series Fallout, what elements would react to the radiation in a way that could harm humans and what happens to humans when they interact with these substances?


closed as too broad by bon, Michael DM Dryden, M.A.R. ಠ_ಠ, Todd Minehardt, orthocresol Nov 17 '15 at 23:38

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    $\begingroup$ While this is interesting question, it too broad and imprecise. Situation would depend on lots of factors. $\endgroup$ – Mithoron Nov 17 '15 at 20:43
  • $\begingroup$ IMO it would be much different question. I think earlier was better but you should narrow it down $\endgroup$ – Mithoron Nov 17 '15 at 20:53
  • $\begingroup$ We can discuss it in chat $\endgroup$ – Mithoron Nov 17 '15 at 20:57
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    $\begingroup$ The whole SE model is to have one clear question, and provide answers to that question. Multiple queries in one question do not fit the model. $\endgroup$ – Jon Custer Nov 17 '15 at 21:17
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    $\begingroup$ As for the core question, the 'harmful' elements (isotopes) are either generated directly in the nuclear explosion, or are part of the directly generated isotope decay chains (i.e. daughter products). If I recall properly, Cs, Sr, and I are major issues for humans since they are taken up by the body resulting in internal rad dose. $\endgroup$ – Jon Custer Nov 17 '15 at 21:19

One of the best examples would be Bikini Atoll.

Today, the key residual fallout radionuclides of potential radiological concern include cesium-137 and strontium-90 and, to a lesser extent, plutonium isotopes and americium-241.

The most important pathway for human exposure to residual fallout contmaination is ingestion of cesium-137 contained in locally grown food crop products such as coconuts, Pandanus, and breadfruit

According to the CDC's Radioisotope Brief: Cesium-137

External exposure to large amounts of Cs-137 can cause burns, acute radiation sickness, and even death. Exposure to Cs-137 can increase the risk for cancer because of exposure to high-energy gamma radiation. Internal exposure to Cs-137, through ingestion or inhalation, allows the radioactive material to be distributed in the soft tissues, especially muscle tissue, exposing these tissues to the beta particles and gamma radiation and increasing cancer risk.


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