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Health Agencies Update
June 19, 2002

Radiation Compensation Rules

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JAMA. 2002;287(23):3070. doi:10.1001/jama.287.23.3070

The US Department of Health and Human Services has issued final rules under which federal workers exposed to radiation will be compensated for job-related cancer. Since the late 1940s, hundreds of thousands of government employees and contractors may have received harmful doses of radiation at nuclear weapons test sites and manufacturing plants.

Because the rules cover the early Cold War through the 21st century, the true number encompassed by the law is impossible to calculate, said Larry Elliott, MPH, director of the Office of Compensation Analysis and Support at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). "Six hundred thousand is probably a low estimate," he said. Given that roughly 25% of the US population receives a diagnosis of cancer at some time, more than 150 000 former employees and their families could eventually qualify, he said.