White men hired at the Oak Ridge (Tenn) National Laboratory between 1943 and 1972 were followed up for vital status through 1984 (N = 8318, 1524 deaths). Relatively low mortality compared with that in US white men was observed for most causes of death, but leukemia mortality was elevated in the total cohort (63% higher, 28 deaths) and in workers who had at some time been monitored for internal radionuclide contamination (123% higher, 16 deaths). Median cumulative dose of external penetrating radiation was 1.4 mSv; 638 workers had cumulative doses above 50 mSv (5 rem). After accounting for age, birth cohort, a measure of socioeconomic status, and active worker status, external radiation with a 20-year exposure lag was related to all causes of death (2.68% increase per 10 mSv) primarily due to an association with cancer mortality (4.94% per 10 mSv). Studies of this population through 1977 did not find radiation-cancer mortality associations, and identical analyses using the shorter follow-up showed that associations with radiation did not appear until after 1977. The radiation-cancer dose response is 10 times higher than estimates from the follow-up of survivors of the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan, but similar to one previous occupational study. Dose-response estimates are subject to uncertainties due to potential problems, including measurement of radiation doses and cancer outcomes. Longer-term follow-up of this and other populations with good measurement of protracted low-level exposures will be critical to evaluating the generalizability of the results reported herein.
Steve Wing, Carl M. Shy, Joy L. Wood, Susanne Wolf, Donna L. Cragle, E. L. Frome. Mortality Among Workers at Oak Ridge National LaboratoryEvidence of Radiation Effects in Follow-up Through 1984. JAMA. 1991;265(11):1397–1402. doi:10.1001/jama.1991.03460110063025