Obituaries

Edward Parrish RadfordAndrew AllisonQahtan Abdul-Rahman Al-SamarraiStephen David CrabtreeKathleen Agnes Dru DruryFrancis George HattersleyWilliam Edgar ParkesPatrick Morries Gordon RussellPatrick McIlroy Smyth

BMJ 2001; 323 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.323.7321.1132 (Published 10 November 2001) Cite this as: BMJ 2001;323:1132

Edward Parrish Radford


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Scholar of the cancer risks of radiation (b Springfield, Massachusetts, 1922; q Harvard), died in Haslemere, England, on 12 October 2001. Ted Radford was the person who told the world that there was no such thing as a safe dose of radiation.

After graduating in biology at Massachusetts Institute of Technology and then in medicine at Harvard, he did his military service in the United States air force, where he observed three atom bomb explosions at close range from an aeroplane; this was to shape his later career. Returning to Harvard, he conducted research on respiration, developing the “Radford nomogram,” a device that measured correct doses of anaesthetic gases, and instigating a course on radiation and human health. In 1964 he published research showing that polonium 210, found in tobacco and cigarette smoke, was present in at least sevenfold quantities in smokers' lungs, and might therefore be a causative factor in lung cancer.

In 1968 he was appointed professor of environmental medicine at Johns Hopkins, where he carried out further research into the effects of radiation and smoke inhalation, working with the International Association of Firefighters on Project Smoke. He also spent a year on sabbatical at Oxford, working with Sir Richard Doll.

In 1977, invited by the Network for Nuclear Concern, he came to Britain to give evidence at the inquiry into the building of the THORP nuclear fuels reprocessing plant at Sellafield. That same year he moved to the University of Pittsburgh as director of its Centre for Environmental Epidemiology, where he studied the effects of radon on miners.

Radford chaired BIER, the Committee on the Biological Effects of Ionizing Radiation of the US National Academy of Sciences. In 1979, shortly after the meltdown at Three Mile Island nuclear plant in Pennsylvania, BIER published a report indicating that …

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