other activities into DOE in 1977). DOE was charged with management and oversight relating to radioactive waste disposal programs, energy-related research, the nuclear weapons program, and those epidemiologic studies of workers at nuclear weapons facilities previously administered by AEC. DOE and its predecessors also conducted many animal studies of radiation health effects, partially funds the Radiation Effects Research Foundation (RERF), and administers a low-dose radiation effects program. Currently, most of the research on the health effects of radiation exposure in occupationally exposed populations is managed by DOE’s Office of Environment, Safety and Health (ES&H).1 Management of the program was being reorganized within DOE during the time this report was in review; the program will reside in the Office of Illness and Injury Prevention, Office of Health, Safety and Security, HS-13.


In 1981, DOE established ES&H to enhance the performance of the department’s environment, safety, and health programs and to advise the Secretary of Energy regarding the health and safety of workers and environmental issues at DOE sites (DOE 2006a). ES&H is responsible for formulating environmental standards; developing directives related to environmental, safety, and health issues; enforcing compliance with nuclear safety regulations; and funding epidemiological studies of workers at nuclear facilities (DOE 2006a). Epidemiological research on worker exposures at the DOE sites is currently housed within the Office of Health (OH) in ES&H.

The OH manages current epidemiologic research and dose reconstruction efforts to understand the health consequences of exposure related to ionizing radiation and selected non-radioactive materials, such as beryllium, that are used in the weapons program. The OH also supports RERF jointly with Japan’s Ministry of Health, Labour, and Welfare. Data from the RERF still provide the basis for the radiation risk estimates that are used to estimate risk to workers and others exposed to ionizing radiation. The office also maintains extensive records on data collected during health studies, including the Comprehensive Epidemiologic Data Resource, which is a public use data repository for such information. The Worker and Public Health Activities Program, which is the focus of this report, is one specific worker safety and health program managed by DOE’s OH, in collaboration with the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). At the time this report was in review, the program under the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) was being reorganized within DOE and will reside in the Office of Health, Safety and Security.

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