The Radiation Epidemiology Branch's (REB) Research Program on Radiological and Nuclear Threats is conducted in the framework of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) biodefense research initiative. Dosimetry studies are the largest component of the REB program, having several goals that include developing, improving, and testing methods to improve dose assessments from radioactive fallout and from radioactive materials released to the environment from accidents or damaged nuclear facilities. In this context, development implies refining, testing, and improving established analytic dose assessment methods, as well as testing the viability of some completely new measurement-based techniques.
Current dosimetry studies include:
In addition to dosimetry studies, REB’s research program on radiological terrorism includes activities in the areas of epidemiology, risk assessment, and training.
The findings from REB’s epidemiological studies (including cancer and other serious health outcomes) of the atomic bomb survivors, and in population groups exposed to fallout from the Chernobyl accident and from nuclear weapons tests in Kazakhstan, provide valuable information about late effects following radiological terrorist events in young persons and in persons of all ages. The epidemiological studies in Chernobyl and Kazakhstan will provide risk estimates for cancer and other chronic diseases following exposure to fallout.
Sources of uncertainty in risk estimation are identified and evaluated.
Expertise in radiation epidemiology and dosimetry is limited, and experts in radiation sciences are increasingly retiring. A major emphasis of REB’s efforts is to train a new generation of younger scientists in radiation epidemiology, dosimetry, and statistics.