Relationship to Other Radiation Research Programs
Russian Health Studies Program
What is the relationship of the Russian Health Studies
Program to other radiation health effects programs?
Current radiation protection standards are derived primarily
from studies of the Japanese atomic bomb survivors and patients
who received medical irradiation therapy. However, exposures
to radiation in the Japanese cohort were for a relatively
short time and were external. In addition, radiation-related
adverse health effects were observed in individuals exposed
at doses greater than 100 milli-Sievert (mSv) to 200 mSv (10
to 20 rem). Of note, the current U.S. limit for occupational
radiation exposure is 50 mSv (5 rem) per year.
On the other hand, the Russian nuclear weapons production
workers at Mayak accumulated larger cumulative dose that the
Japanese cohort. Moreover, the Mayak workers had long-term
exposures (10 to 30 years) to plutonium, gamma, and neutron
radiation. This combination of radiation types over a working
lifetime is more representative of doses received by DOE workers.
Also available for study are those Russians living near Mayak
who received relatively low doses of both internal and external
radiation (typically less than 10 mSv (1 rem) per year) over
a long period (20 to 30 years). In comparison, DOE and NRC
have an annual limit of 1 mSv (0.1 rem) per year for members
of the public from radiological activities carried out by
Therefore, the Russian Health Studies Program is more relevant
to radiation risks experienced by DOE workers and commercial
nuclear workers based on the comparability of exposures.
The Russian Health Studies Program Complements the Office
of Science Low Dose Radiation Research Program
The Office of Science has funded a major radiation research
program investigating the effects of relatively low doses
of radiation on various human and non-human tissues. Although
there may be significant results emerging from this program,
its results will need to be validated in humans, such as those
at Mayak and surrounding communities.
What are current unresolved questions in radiation research?
The most crucial issue in radiation research is the determination
of the effect on human health of exposures of less than 50
mSv (5 rem) per year. Such exposures are more likely to have
been received by DOE workers and surrounding populations.
The major reasons to perform studies of workers and people
in communities surrounding Russian nuclear weapons production
sites is to extend current knowledge of radiation risks at
lower doses than that based on Japanese studies and to validate
radiation protection standards.
- Hold a JCCRER Meeting in Russia with participants
from both countries; and
- Continue supporting current projects to their successful
Program Manager: Barrett
N. Fountos, (301) 903-6740