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International Health Studies and Activities


The purpose of international health studies and activities is to support the health and safety mission of DOE by providing new knowledge and information about the human response to ionizing radiation and other industrial exposures encountered in the workplace or within nearby communities; and as a result of nuclear weapons testing, use and accidents. The activities mandated by congress or required by international agreement include studies of human health, environmental impacts, and provision of medical services. Activities are underway in Japan, Marshall Islands, Russian Federation, and Spain. The studies and activities represent unique opportunities to enhance our knowledge and to establish science-based worker and public protection standards and to fulfill humanitarian purposes.


Japan Program

Assess the risk of exposure to ionizing radiation on humans as a result of the Atomic-bomb through support of the Radiation Effects Research Foundation (RERF) in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan. The objective of the RERF is to conduct research and studies for peaceful purposes, on medical effects of radiation and associated diseases in humans, with a view to contributing to maintenance of the health and welfare of the atomic-bomb survivors and for other peaceful purposes. Results of RERF studies of atomic-bomb survivors are the primary basis for international radiation protection standards. RERF was chartered by the U.S. DOE and Japanese Ministry of Labour and Welfare in 1975 and rechartered in 2012 as a public interest incorporated foundation.For information on this program please contact Isaf Al-Nabulsi

Marshall Islands Program

Improve the understanding of the fate of radionuclides in an atoll environment, the environmental pathways to humans and to provide practical remediation strategies to reduce transport to humans. This is accomplished through a comprehensive environmental monitoring program for Bikini, Enewetak, Rongelap and Utrik Atolls (the nuclear affected atolls). DOE provides technical assistance and information to atoll local governments to aid in their decision making about safety and resettlement. Improving the long term health for people of Rongelap and Utrik atolls exposed to local fallout from the 1954 Bravo test is a goal. This is accomplished by providing routine medical surveillance to detect early, treat aggressively and fully rehabilitate people diagnosed with cancer. The medical and environmental monitoring programs are required as part of the Compact of Free Association (Public Law 99-239 and 108-188) and Department of the Interior legislation (Public Law 112-149).  For information on this program please contact Gerald Petersen.

Spain Program

Improve scientific understanding of the environmental behavior of plutonium in an arid ecosystem and the environmental pathways to people living and working in a contaminated area and enabling the return of contaminated land to economic use.  DOE provides technical support to Spain’s Centro de Investigaciones Energéticas, Medioambientales y Tecnológicas about medical surveillance, and environmental monitoring and remediation as a result of a "broken arrow" event that contaminated portions of farm land in Palomares, Spain in 1966. The program is memorialized in the U.S.-Spain “Hall-Otero Agreement” of 1966. For information on this program please contact Gerald Petersen.

Russian  Program

Assess worker and public health risk from exposure to ionizing radiation among workers and populations living near the Russian production site at Mayak. The effort is expected to answer critical questions on the health impacts associated with long-term, low dose-rate radiation exposures. Studies are performed jointly by U.S. and Russian scientists, managed by DOE, and with independent scientific oversight under the aegis of U.S.-Russian Federation Joint Coordinating Committee for Radiation Effects Research. The Joint Coordinating Committee is a bilateral U.S.-Russian commitment to support research and exchange information on radiation health effects; it started in 1994. For information on this program please contact Barrett Fountos