Keywords: low dose rate gamma radiation, nuclear shipyard workers, cardiovascular disease, cancer, mortality rates, low radiation, radiation exposure, health effects
Nuclear shipyard worker study (1980–1988): a large cohort exposed to low-dose-rate gamma radiation
This paper is a summary of the 1991 Final Report of the Nuclear Shipyard Worker Study (NSWS), a very comprehensive study of occupational radiation exposure in the US. The NSWS compared three cohorts: a high-dose cohort of 27,872 nuclear workers, a low dose cohort of 10,348 workers, and a control cohort of 32,510 unexposed shipyard workers. The cohorts were matched by ages and job categories. Although the NSWS was designed to search for adverse effects of occupational low dose-rate gamma radiation, few risks were found. The high-dose workers demonstrated significantly lower circulatory, respiratory, and all-cause mortality than did unexposed workers. Mortality from all cancers combined was also lower in the exposed cohort. The NSWS results are compared to a study of British radiologists. We recommend extension of NSWS data from 1981 to 2001 to get a more complete picture of the health effects of 60Co radiation to the high-dose cohort compared to the controls.