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Research Shows It's Better To Run To Best Nearby Shelter After Nuclear Detonation Blast

SACRAMENTO (CBS Sacramento) - New research suggests that it is better to run away from a nuclear detonation blast zone and the fallout, instead of taking shelter in a building with only limited protection from radiation.

Researcher Michael Dillion, an atmospheric scientist at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California, had his research published in January by The Royal Society, which is a mathematical, physical, and engineering sciences journal.

In his research he created a mathematical model of nuclear fallout survival in an attempt to determine optimal fallout shelter times following a nuclear detonation.  His relatives inquired with him about what they should do if they did indeed see a mushroom cloud.

"I realized that I really didn't have a great answer," Dillon said to Science online. The official U.S. government advice is to "take shelter in the nearest and most protective building." For most people, that would be the basement of their home. But, Dillon says, "out in California there just are not that many basements," offering little protection from fallout.

Dillion's research proposes ways to determine the optimal shelter time based on information potentially available following a nuclear detonation.

"If your current shelter is poor and higher quality shelter is less than 5 minutes away, the model suggests that you should run there as soon as you can," Science online reported. "If you have poor shelter but higher quality shelter is available farther away, you should get to that high-quality shelter no later than 30 minutes after detonation. Depending on the size of the city, if everyone follows this advice, it could save between 10,000 and 100,000 lives."

However, not everyone agrees with Dillion or his research.

"I disagree with the conclusions," Lawrence Wein, an operations research scientist at Stanford University in Palo Alto, California, told Science. "He fails to account for several important issues that are vitally important for policy recommendations."


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