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Workers' Comp, National Academy of Science lend experts to site exposure website

November 14, 2011
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uranium mineThe Office of Workers' Compensation Programs is partnering with the National Academy of Sciences to further enhance the current Site Exposure Matrices website (SEM), a Department of Labor (DOL) tool that aids the adjudication of claims under the Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation Program Act. Under the partnership, the NAS will convene a panel of experts to review the scientific accuracy of occupational disease links to toxic substances present at various locations within EEOICPA-covered facilities.

The experts will evaluate other exposure databases to identify ways to augment disease associations.

The SEM website is a repository of information gathered from a variety of sources regarding toxic substances present at Department of Energy (DOE) and Radiation Exposure Compensation Act (RECA) facilities covered under Part E of the Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation Program Act (EEOICPA). In putting together SEM, DOL held round table meetings with workers from DOE facilities all over the country and gathered their input on the hazards at these sites. DOL also obtained copies of thousands of documents from DOE regarding toxic substances at those facilities.

In addition to toxic substance information, the SEM Website also contains information regarding scientifically established links between toxic substances and illnesses. Displayed links for diagnosed illnesses show how these correlate to toxic substance exposures. The relationship between toxic substances and diagnosed illnesses shown in SEM is derived from records of research by recognized medical authorities maintained by the National Library of Medicine (NLM). DOL continually updates these relationships as new disease associations are recognized by NLM.

DOL provides expanded information (i.e. buildings, processes, labor categories, and related diagnosed illness associations) for DOE sites and RECA facilities (it is reviewed by the Department of Energy to prevent the release of data that could pose national security risks).

Newly identified toxic substances are added to the site-wide chemical list after their release is authorized by DOE.

The website provides exposure and diagnosed illness information, although it is not considered complete, since toxic substance use at each facility is continuously evaluated and new substances are added as their presence is discovered. SEM is an ongoing effort to obtain and organize exposure and disease information for all covered Part E facilities.

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