Performing studies of occupational exposure to radiation and chemicals

The Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education (ORISE) has had a robust capability in epidemiology since 1978. Early ORISE studies of mortality among U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) nuclear workers led researchers to develop increasing expertise in epidemiologic research, occupational health studies and DOE worker populations. In the early 1980s, ORISE's researchers and skills coalesced into an operating unit that became the Center for Epidemiologic Research (CER).

Epidemiological studies provide valuable insight into health trends and risks for workers and the public at large. The focus of CER has changed over time as DOE operations and worker health assessment needs have evolved. Since the early 1990s, CER researchers have concentrated on building and maintaining worker health registries to support medical surveillance, risk assessments and morbidity studies.

Today, this extensive collection of databases include DOE’s Radiation and Exposure Monitoring System, which is the database of occupational radiation exposure for all monitored DOE employees, contractors, subcontracts and members of the public, and the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s Radiation Exposure Information and Reporting System, which provides information on radiation exposure to the workforce at certain NRC licensed facilities. Other databases include DOE’s Beryllium-Associated Worker Registry, a collection of health and exposure information of individuals potentially at risk for chronic beryllium disease due to their work at DOE-owned or leased facilities, and DOE’s Comprehensive Epidemiologic Data Resource (CEDR), an electronic database comprised of all health studies of DOE workers and environmental studies of areas surrounding DOE facilities that are shared as de-identified analytic files with researchers and educators. 

This extensive knowledge and the access to vast databases are vital to several critical studies underway, including the largest-of-its kind study in the United States on the effects of long-term exposure to low-dose radiation. Launched in 2012, this study will eventually encompass more than one million people.

CER retains the expertise and capabilities needed to perform epidemiologic studies of exposure to radiation, chemicals and other hazards.

Specifically, CER's capabilities include:

  • Study design and implementation
  • Design, implementation and evaluation of epidemiological surveillance programs
  • Questionnaire development and evaluation of data
  • Descriptive data analysis and advanced data visualization
  • Biostatistical analysis of health data