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Founded in 1961, PSR led the campaign to end atmospheric nuclear testing by documenting the presence of Strontium 90, a byproduct of atomic testing, in children's teeth. During the following two decades, PSR's work to educate the public about the dangers of nuclear war grew into an international movement with the founding of International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War. In 1985, PSR shared the Nobel Peace Prize awarded to IPPNW for building public awareness and pressure to end the nuclear arms race.

During the 1990's, PSR built on this record of achievement by helping to end new nuclear warhead production and winning an international moratorium on explosive nuclear testing. A Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty has been negotiated and signed, but has not been ratified by the United States Senate and has not yet come into force. PSR continues to educate and mobilize the health community and concerned citizens on a multitude of nuclear issues.Understanding that nuclear war continues to be the most acute threat to human life and the global biosphere, PSR continues its commitment of 45 years to the elimination of nuclear weapons. As steps toward that goal, PSR advocates for deep cuts in nuclear arsenals, taking nuclear weapons of hair-trigger alert, and ratification of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty. PSR supports alternative strategies for conflict resolution, including increased diplomacy and the rule of law. To reduce the risk of nuclear proliferation and enhance public safety, PSR opposes nuclear power.

In 1992, recognizing that new dangers now threaten of our own and communities around the world, PSR expanded its mission to include environmental health, addressing issues such as global climate change, proliferation of toxics, and pollution. PSR's mobilization of the medical community on environmental health issues led to a collaboration among MIT, the Harvard School of Public Health, Brown University and PSR's Greater Boston chapter that resulted in Critical Condition, Dr. Eric Chivian's definitive volume on human health and the environment. Since then, PSR has brought the medical and public health perspective to advance environmental health and protect present and future generations from the health effects of global warming and toxic degradation of the environment, and promoting renewable energy solutions and energy security.

On both the nuclear disarmament and environmental health fronts, PSR works for national priorities to ensure our nation's health, social and economic needs.