EFFECTS ON HUMANS Nuclear explosions produce air explosion effects similar to those produced by conventional explosives. The shock wave can directly injure humans by rupturing the eardrums or lungs or by throwing people at high speed, but most victims occur due to the collapse of structures and flying debris. Thermal flash burns extend well beyond the 5 psi destruction radius. A single nuclear explosion could produce 10,000 cases of severe burns requiring specialized medical treatment; in an all-out war, there could be several million such cases.
However, the United States has facilities to treat fewer than 2,000 burn cases, virtually all of them in urban areas that would be devastated by nuclear explosions. Burn victims who could be saved, if their injuries were the result of some isolated cause, would succumb after the nuclear war. The same goes for fractures, lacerations, missing limbs, crushed skulls, punctured lungs and countless other injuries sustained as a result of the nuclear explosion. Where would the doctors, the hospitals, the medicines, the equipment needed for their treatment be? Most would fall into ruin, and those that remained would be insufficient for the overwhelming number of injured.
Again, many would die who could normally be saved by modern medicine. A limited form of nuclear warfare would be like conventional conflict on the battlefield, but using low-performance tactical nuclear weapons. The most immediate effect of a nuclear explosion is an intense burst of nuclear radiation, mainly gamma rays and neutrons. The destructive effects of explosions extend miles from the point of detonation of a typical nuclear weapon, and the lethal consequences can cover communities hundreds of miles downwind of a single nuclear explosion.
The debate about the national and global effects of nuclear war continues, and it is unlikely that issues will be conclusively decided without the unfortunate experiment of real nuclear war. A nuclear war would produce enormous quantities of ozone-consuming chemicals, and studies suggest that even modest nuclear exchange would lead to unprecedented increases in ultraviolet exposure. Evidence of the foreseeable impacts of a nuclear detonation is an integral part of the risk assessment of nuclear weapons. Direct Radiation Nuclear radiation produced in the actual detonation of a nuclear weapon and which constitutes the most immediate effect on the surrounding environment.
Nuclear weapons are unique in their destructive power and the threat they pose to the environment and human survival. Nuclear Winter A substantial reduction in global temperature that could result from the injection of soot into the atmosphere during a nuclear war. Evidence of the harm caused by the use and testing of nuclear weapons acquires renewed importance in a world where the risk of nuclear weapons being used is increasing. The International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) is a coalition of non-governmental organizations in one hundred countries that promote adherence to and implementation of the United Nations Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.
The thousands of nuclear weapons possessed by the United States and Russia could cause a nuclear winter, destroying the essential ecosystems on which all life depends.