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Mortality of Older Construction and Craft Workers Employed at Department of Energy (DOE) Nuclear Sites

American Journal of Industrial Medicine
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Background The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) established medical screening
programs at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation, Oak Ridge Reservation, the Savannah
River Site, and the Amchitka site starting in 1996.Workers participating in these programs
have been followed to determine their vital status and mortality experience through
December 31, 2004.
Methods A cohort of 8,976 former construction workers from Hanford, Savannah River,
Oak Ridge, and Amchitka was followed using the National Death Index through December
31, 2004, to ascertain vital status and causes of death. Cause-specific standardized
mortality ratios (SMRs) were calculated based on US death rates.
Results Six hundred and seventy-four deaths occurred in this cohort and overall mortality
was slightly less than expected (SMR¼0.93, 95% CI¼0.86–1.01), indicating a ‘‘healthy
worker effect.’’ However, significantly excess mortality was observed for all cancers
(SMR¼1.28, 95% CI¼1.13–1.45), lung cancer (SMR¼1.54, 95% CI¼1.24–1.87),
mesothelioma (SMR¼5.93, 95% CI¼2.56–11.68), and asbestosis (SMR¼33.89, 95%
CI¼18.03–57.95). Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma was in excess at Oak Ridge and multiple
myeloma was in excess at Hanford. Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) was
significantly elevated among workers at the Savannah River Site (SMR¼1.92, 95%
Conclusions DOE construction workers at these four sites were found to have
significantly excess risk for combined cancer sites included in the Department of
Labor’ Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation Program (EEOCIPA).
Asbestos-related cancers were significantly elevated. Am. J. Ind. Med. 52:671–682, 2009.
 2009 Wiley-Liss, Inc.

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