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Cohort profile: four early uranium processing facilities in the US and Canada.

Published Web Location

https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/epub/10.1080/09553002.2021.1917786?needAccess=true
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Abstract

Purpose

Pooling of individual-level data for workers involved in uranium refining and processing (excluding enrichment) may provide valuable insights into risks from occupational uranium and external ionizing radiation exposures.

Methods

Data were pooled for workers from four uranium processing facilities (Fernald, Mallinckrodt and Middlesex from the U.S.; and Port Hope, Canada). Employment began as early as the 1930s and follow-up was as late as 2017. Workers were exposed to high concentrations of uranium, radium, and their decay products, as well as gamma radiation and ambient radon decay products. Exposure and outcome data were harmonized using similar definitions and dose reconstruction methods. Standardized mortality ratios (SMR) were estimated.

Results

In total, 560 deaths from lung cancer, 503 non-malignant respiratory diseases, 67 renal diseases, 1,596 ischemic heart diseases, and 101 dementia and Alzheimer's disease (AD) were detected in the pooled cohort of over 12,400 workers (∼1,300 females). Mean cumulative doses were 45 millisievert for whole-body external ionizing radiation exposure and 172 milligray for lung dose from radon decay products. Only SMR for dementia and AD among males was statistically significant (SMR=1.29; 95% confidence interval: 1.04, 1.54).

Conclusions

This is the largest study to date to examine long-term health risks of uranium processing workers.

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