Foreseeable Effects of Nuclear Detonations on a Local Environment: Boulder County, Colorado

Jeffrey O. Bennett, Jeffrey R. Key, Douglas C. Pattie, Alan H. Taylor

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


The effects on Boulder County, Colorado, of a major nuclear war are predicted. Although many of the effects of such a horrific event would be global in nature, the direct ones on Boulder County were considered in terms of being primarily due to three one-megaton blasts in Denver, situated 40 km to the south-east. Under assumed wind conditions, agricultural crops would be contaminated with radionuclides for prolonged periods, rendering them dangerous for human consumption. Loss of animal life, flooding, increased sedimentation, and extensive soil-erosion, should also be expected. Recovery times for environmental systems are difficult to predict. Indeed, unknown synergistic effects and global changes in atmospheric conditons might preclude eventual recovery. Although numerous assumptions were made in these predictions, and the impacts described are scenario-dependent, the implications are clear: even if Boulder County received no direct hit, a nuclear war would have a devastating impact on the environmental systems that were considered. The prognosis from this study and others for human societies and involved ecosystems in the event of nuclear war is grim. We hope that continued research and dignified publicity of results on the effects of nuclear war will increase the urgency with which solutions to the nuclear dilemma are sought.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)155-165
Number of pages11
JournalEnvironmental Conservation
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1984

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Water Science and Technology
  • Pollution
  • Nature and Landscape Conservation
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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