Ever since the United States began producing and testing nuclear weapons during World War II, the effects of ionizing radiation on human health and the environment have been a serious public concern. The Worker and Public Health Activities Program was established more than 20 years ago to study the consequences of exposure to ionizing radiation and other hazardous materials from Department of Energy operations to workers and members of the surrounding communities. In 2005, the National Academies convened an expert committee to conduct a review of the Worker and Public Health Activities Program, which is operated by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) at Department of Energy (DOE) nuclear facilities under a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with DOE. Review of the Worker and Public Health Activities Program Administered by the Department of Energy and the Department of Health and Human Services concludes that the program has used sound research methods and generally has enhanced public understanding of the risks involved. However, the report recommends that more two-way communication between the agencies and workers and members of the public is needed. The report also explores the ways in which the agencies involved could develop a more coordinated, effective, and thorough evaluation of the public health concerns involved in cleanup and remediation activities at Department of Energy sites.
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