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The legacy of nuclear weapons production, testing, research, and waste management affects the physical and social health of communities throughout the United States. Both radiation and chemical contamination have affected ground and surface waters, air, and soil; in some cases, additional contamination continues.
Recent history has brought increased awareness about environmental contamination caused by and coming from facilities in the US nuclear weapons complex. The declassification of government documents has provided information about accidental and routine releases of hazardous contaminants. Dose reconstruction and epidemiology studies have highlighted the health risks associated with exposures to the contaminants to both workers and the public. Community members nearby facilities are demanding answers about their health. They want to know: What harms might be caused by exposures released during the production and manufacturing of nuclear weapons components? What health effects can occur because of the fallout from nuclear testing? Who is likely to suffer, and when? Who is responsible for the diseases that are appearing among members of their community?
The objective of this effort is to make current knowledge about the health effects of low-level ionizing radiation more accessible to people who face on-going risks from radiological contamination US nuclear weapons facilities. This is accomplished in two ways: by providing technical assistance to community groups about public health issues from radiological exposures and by studying institutional and social factors in clean-up and long-term stewardship of contaminated sites.
This effort has its origins in the work of the Childhood Cancer Research Institute in the late 1980s. In 1996 the Childhood Cancer Research Institute merged with the George Perkins Marsh Institute, a research center at Clark University in Worcester MA. The result was the creation of the Community-Based Hazard Management Program. Until 2005 the Community-Based Hazard Management Program worked collaboratively with community groups around US nuclear weapons facilities by providing them with technical assistance. The program has addressed environmental and community health issues arising from activities in a number of communities, including California, Idaho, Nevada, New Mexico, Ohio, Texas, and Utah.
Now, SERI is picking up where the Community-Based Hazard Management Program left off.
- Community guide to environmental health research methods (project report)
- Designing an analytic deliberative process for addressing health impacts of the US nuclear weapons complex (journal article)
- Guidance on the use of focus groups for evaluation of public involvement programs at contaminated sediment sites (project report)
- Guidance on the use of Q method for evaluation of public involvement programs at contaminated sites (project report)
- Health education needs assessment in communities affected by US nuclear weapons complex facilities (project report)
- Health risks of ionizing radiation report: Overview of epidemiological studies (project report)
- Human reliability and risk in the transportation of spent nuclear fuel (project report)
- Institutional preferences for justice in public health policy about the health consequences of iodine-131 nuclear weapons testing fallout (book chapter)
- Low dose radiation risk perception and communication: Brookhaven National Lab (project report)
- Low dose radiation risk perception and communication: Fernald (project report)
- Nuclear waste. Knowledge waste? (journal article)
- Perspectives on public involvement: Risk communication at Lawrence Livermore National Lab (journal article)
- Perspectives on public participation: Addressing public health risks at Fernald (project report)
- Perspectives on public participation: Remediation and stewardship decisions at Rocky Flats (journal article)
- Siting hazardous facilities and communicating risks under conditions of high social distrust (journal article)
- Social distrust: implications and recommendation for spent nuclear fuel and high level radioactive waste management (commissioned report)