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information for use by SAIC in estimating doses to the veterans. As of September 30, 2002, 4,048 partial or total dose reconstructions had been performed for specific veterans (Schaeffer, 2002a).
Since the inception of the program, the responsibilities of DTRA (then DNA) and the Department of Veterans Affairs (then the Veterans Administration) have been different. DTRA is responsible for confirming service status and reconstructing doses, and VA is the primary avenue of contact for a veteran and is responsible for determining eligibility for compensation. Each fulfills its role independently of the other, although close interaction is maintained.
I.B.4Key Laws and Regulations Governing the NTPR Program
About 15 public laws form the basis of regulations that govern the administration of the NTPR program and determine the eligibility of veterans to receive service-connected disability compensation based on their radiation exposure during the nuclear-weapons testing program. Several of the key laws are described below, and then the regulations implementing them are discussed.
The primary law was enacted in 1981: Public Law (PL) 97-72, the Veterans’ Health Care, Training, and Small Business Loan Act. It specified that atomic veterans were entitled to medical care if they could prove that their disease was service-connected, which few could do. The next law was PL 98-542, the Veterans’ Dioxin and Radiation Exposure Compensation Standards Act of 1984, which listed in greater detail how such service connection was to be established. It also listed radiogenic diseases,5 their latent periods,6 and appropriate compensation. When a claim was filed under this law, the veteran had to obtain a dose estimate from the DNA and the estimated dose had to be above a certain level for an award to be made (usually greater than 5 rem).
In 1988, Congress passed PL 100-321, The Radiation-Exposed Veterans Compensation Act. Under this law, referred to as the presumptive law, it is presumed that a veteran’s disease was caused by radiation if the veteran was present at a nuclear detonation, or some associated activities, and if the veteran developed one of the presumptive diseases, regardless of the veteran’s dose. The original presumptive law listed 13 cancers as radiogenic: leukemia, except chronic lymphocytic leukemia; multiple myeloma; lymphoma, except Hodgkin’s disease; primary liver cancer; and cancer of the thyroid, breast, pharynx, esophagus, stomach, small intestine, pancreas, bile duct, and gall bladder. Cancers of the salivary
A radiogenic disease is a type of disease assumed on the basis of scientific studies to have an association with radiation exposure. A statement that a cancer is radiogenic does not imply that radiation is the only cause of the cancer but, rather, that radiation has been shown to be one of its causes. Exposure to other environmental substances could also cause the same type of cancer.
The latent period is the time after exposure that it takes for a radiation-induced cancer to be manifested. Latent periods may vary widely between different types of cancer and within subgroups of one type of cancer.