Skip to main content

Is it possible to more quickly determine risk estimates for cancer from occupational radiation exposures?

Is it possible to more quickly determine risk estimates for cancer from occupational radiation exposures?

Currently, it can take months, or even more than a year, to perform the dosimetry calculations needed to determine the risk estimates for various jobs and exposures using available data and models. These calculations can depend on many different factors— radiation source, presence or absence of protective clothing or materials, male or female, whole body exposure or just organs or tissues, and so on—which adds a great deal of time and complexity in calculating dose. The federal government uses these risk estimates to set policy regulations for safe, acceptable exposure limits for workers; and it is absolutely critical that this information is regularly updated and accurate, based on the best science available.

Funded by the ORAU-Directed Research and Development program, ORAU researchers are partnering with Texas A&M University to evaluate the feasibility of developing a preliminary set of reference models to address this need. These models could be applied quickly and easily to epidemiologic studies of radiation dose to inform policymaking that sets better limits for protecting workers from adverse health effects, like cancers.

ORAU manages two of the largest data sets that provide millions of records on effective doses received by energy workers: the U.S. Department of Energy’s Radiation Exposure Monitoring System (REMS) and the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s Radiation Exposure Information Reporting System (REIRS). Effective dose data are more generalized and provide whole-body averages of dose received by individuals. However, epidemiologic studies need absorbed dose data—or radiation dose absorbed by specific organs or tissues and specific to populations of male or female workers—to estimate risk for specific cancer and non-cancer outcomes. These organ/tissue-specific absorbed doses can then be modelled to account for varying degrees of exposure, but converting effective dose to absorbed dose is one of the most time-limiting factors in generating risk estimates.

The outcome of this research is expected to significantly decrease the time it takes to calculate these conversions. The REMS and REIRS datasets provide a good starting point for this team to create valid and reproducible reference models that can be utilized to save time and effort in this process. The results of this feasibility study are scheduled to be released in 2020.

  • Faculty researcher conducts laboratory experiment

    ORAU-Directed Research and Development

    ODRD fosters collaboration among ORAU subject matter experts and member universities by funding innovative research-based approaches or solutions that fall within the needs of ORAU and our customers, as well as the research interests of our member institutions. 

    Learn More

  • Ralph E. Powe Junior Faculty Award winner in laboratory

    Ralph E. Powe Junior Faculty Enhancement Awards Program

    The Powe program recognizes ambitious young faculty at the beginning of their tenure by investing in the early stages of their academic career. The program provides funds to enrich the research and professional growth of young faculty and helps them identify new funding opportunities.

    Learn More

  • ORAU Event Sponsorship Program

    Events Sponsorship Program

    This program provides up to $4,000 to support an event that involves participants from more than one member institution, including students. Typical events might include visits to an ORAU member institution by a well-known speaker, workshops or conferences with a focused theme, or a technology transfer/business plan competition.

    Learn More

Contact us

If you have questions about ORAU's Research partnerships, contact 865.576.1717 or .