The present paper has three aims related to important, direct experiences of the nuclear explosions among persons living near the Semipalatinsk Nuclear Test Site (SNTS). The first is to describe those experiences. The second is to examine their association with the radiation exposure. The third is to clarify their relationship with distance from the center of the nuclear test area. We examined responses to a questionnaire survey conducted from 2002 to 2005 and analyzed them using logistic regression analysis. The major results were: (1) approximately 94% of respondents reported having some direct experience from the nuclear tests; (2) approximately 66% of the respondents saw flashes, 50% felt the blasts, and 12% felt heat from the nuclear explosions; (3) the presence or absence of direct experiences from the nuclear explosions did not depend on radiation level but was associated with distance from the hypocenter of the SNTS.
This research is the first attempt to describe human experiences of the nuclear explosions at the SNTS. We briefly draw parallels between experiences near the SNTS and experiences among Hiroshima and Nagasaki A-bomb survivors. Our next goal in this study is to examine the relationship between direct experiences and psychological consequences of the nuclear tests in view of the fact that epidemiologic studies in Hiroshima and Nagasaki have indicated that direct experiences of the atomic bombings induced psychological effects among the A-bomb survivors.