AOR 4 OE Fact dna Defense Nuclear Agency Public Affairs Office Washington, D.C. 20305 eet January 1989 Subject: Epidemiology and the Nuclear Test Personnel Review Program A major aspect devoted to of the Nuclear ascertaining the Test Personnel Review health status of (NTPR) Program has been Department of Defense (DoD) participants in atmospheric nuclear testing. This involves the epidemiological investigation of selected participant groups. The studies were designed to identify any unusual incidence of disease. If unusual incidence of disease is found among test participants, radiation exposure from the tests would warrant investigation as a possible cause. In that event, follow-up studies would attempt to isolate the cause(s) of any anomalies. Research to date indicates that radiation doses to most DoD personnel were quite low, averaging about 0.625 rem. This is one-eighth the current Federal guidance for allowable dose to radiation workers, which permits up to 5 rem per year. Even at the currently allowable dose, there is a very low risk of induction of any type of radiogenic disease above that normally expected in the unexposed, general population. An unusual incidence of leukemia originally prompted the NTPR Program. By 1978, eight leukemia cases had emerged (where only three or four were expected) among the approximately 3200 DoD personnel who, in 1957, were Test Site on the day of Shot SMOKY, Operation PLUMBBOB. Control (CDC) at or near the Nevada The Centers for Disease published the results of an epidemiological study of this group in the Journal of the American Medical Association on August 5, 1983. The conclusions were that participant deaths due to cancer, as well as total number of cases of cancer, were slightly less than the statistical norm, except for the larger-than-expected number of leukemia cases. CDC attributed this increase to chance, to factors other than radiation, or to some combination of risk factors, possibly including radiation. An additional finding was that the total number of deaths from all causes was essentially as expected from natural causes. Concurrently, Sciences The NAS REDWING the Defense Nuclear Agency (NAS) selected (1956), (DNA) engaged the National Academy of to study the health status of more than 46,000 test personnel. participants CASTLE (1954), at PLUMBBOB and UPSHOT-KNOTHOLE four (1953), other test operations: and GREENHOUSE (1951). The Academy, an independent, Congressionally chartered organization, utilizes leading national experts in their respective fields to conduct such reviews. Jointly funded by DNA and the Department of Energy (DOE), this study, entitled "Mortality of Nuclear Weapons Test Participants," encompassed nearly one-fourth of all veterans involved in atmospheric nuclear tests. The NAS review of death certificates for this large sample of “atomic veterans" provided no consistent evidence of increased deaths from cancer or other diseases overall. for the veterans The study confirmed the excess leukemia among the SMOKY participants and found a slightly increased number of prostate cancers among personnel who participated in Operation REDWING in 1956. The NAS also found that the entire group had a lower death rate than the national average for their age group.