EEOICPA CIRCULAR NO. 10-04              August 27, 2010

 

SUBJECT: Ionizing radiation health effects under Part E

 

The purpose of this circular is to notify all Division of Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation (DEEOIC) staff that we have identified three non-cancerous occupational diseases associated with exposure to ionizing radiation:

 

1) Aplastic Anemia (ICD-9 code 284.89)

2) Cataract, chemical or radiation induced

(ICD-9 code 366.46)

3) Radiation sickness-acute (ICD-9 code 990)

 

By recognizing these non-cancerous occupational diseases as being associated with ionizing radiation, the DEEOIC is also better aligning the Site Exposure Matrix (SEM) with the National Library of Medicineís Haz-Map database.†

 

Each of the occupational affects noted in this circular require exposures to a very high dose[1] of radiation and have short latency periods as shown in this table:

 

Condition

Radiation level needed to induce

Latency period

Aplastic Anemia

125 rem

6 months or less

Cataracts

500-800 rem directed towards lens of the eye

A year or less

Radiation Sickness (Acute)

100-200 rem

Two weeks or less

 

The levels of radiation needed to induce these conditions would be the result of an acute event, not chronic levels accumulated over a lifetime of radiation work, and not the exposure received as part of normal radioactive processing work.† In other words, the only way to have a causal relationship between ionizing radiation and these three conditions is if the employee was involved in a serious radiation accident.† Such accidents are very rare and would be well-documented in Department of Energy (DOE) records. The evidence needed to support such an exposure includes incident and/or accident reports or medical or dosimetry records specific to the individual that identifies the type of excursion or incident in which the employee was involved.† The aggregate dose resulting from a dose reconstruction performed by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) does not provide suitable evidence, as these dose reconstructions look at chronic exposure covering many years.

 

If an employee has a diagnosis of one of these three conditions and medical, dosimetry, or incident reports indicating high or accidental radiation exposure due to a specific event or acute exposure, the case needs to be referred to the National Office for a health physicist review and causation determination.†

 

In SEM, ionizing radiation is shown at the site level only.† This means that ionizing radiation will appear on the drop-down list of toxic substances for each site where ionizing radiation was present, but will not appear in building, labor category, or work process profiles. This is appropriate because exposure to these very high levels of ionizing radiation is not part of any workerís normal job activities, past or present.

 

While the acute levels of occupational radiation discussed in this circular are rare, various medical procedures associated with cancer treatment may involve equivalent exposure. If a claimant has had radiation therapy to treat a work-related cancer and has any of the conditions mentioned in this circular, staff are to develop the condition(s) under the guidelines for consequential illness described in item 6 of Procedure Manual Chapter 2-1500.

 

As always, cancer claims associated with exposure to ionizing radiation should be handled under Part B where NIOSH will perform a dose reconstruction as part of establishing a probability of causation.  

 

 

 

RACHEL P. LEITON

Director, Division of Energy Employees

Occupational Illness Compensation

 

Distribution List No. 1: Claims Examiners, Supervisory Claims Examiners, Technical Assistants, Customer Service Representatives, Fiscal Officers, FAB District Managers, Operation Chiefs, Hearing Representatives, District Office Mail & File Section

 



[1] For comparison, 450 rem can be a fatal dose of radiation and result in death in 50% of those so exposed within 30 days of receiving such an acute dose, depending on how it is received by the body.†