poses and it considered four factors in forming its evaluation: consistency in technical approach, nondifferential methods in dose assignments, quality assurance, and consideration of uncertainties. The working group concluded that the available dose information did not meet the criteria for epidemiology, so dose-response analyses were not performed.
GAO published two reports related to exposures of veterans in the atmospheric nuclear-weapons testing program. The first, Nuclear Health and Safety: Radiation Exposures for Some Cloud-Sampling Personnel Need to be Reexamined (GAO, 1987), was undertaken at the request of the chairman of the Senate Committee on Veterans Affairs. It addressed the concern expressed by a public-interest group (the Environmental Policy Institute) that radiation exposures of about 300 Air Force personnel associated with flying and decontaminating aircraft had been substantially underestimated in the NTPR program. The report concluded that the doses were indeed underestimated and needed to be re-examined. The NTPR program took actions to address the report’s conclusions.
A second GAO report, Veteran’s Benefits: Independent Review Could Improve Credibility of Radiation Exposure Estimates (GAO, 2000), responded to veterans’ concerns about the methods being used in dose reconstructions performed under the nonpresumptive regulation. GAO’s conclusion was that although studies appeared to validate DOD’s dose reconstruction program for deciding claims, “the agency is not providing independent oversight of the program.” The report noted that VA did not believe that it was responsible for overseeing the DOD program. The GAO report recommended that the dose reconstruction program be continued as a means for deciding claims but also recommended that independent oversight of the NTPR program be considered. The present National Research Council report responds to the issue of independent oversight and to other questions raised by Congress.
Dose reconstruction refers to the process of estimating radiation doses that were received by individuals or populations in the past as a result of particular exposure situations of concern. For example, this report is concerned with radiation exposure of military personnel (the atomic veterans) who were prisoners of war in Japan or were stationed in Hiroshima or Nagasaki after the atomic bombings of 1945 or who participated in various activities during atmospheric testing of nuclear weapons at the Trinity site in New Mexico, at the Nevada Test Site (NTS), and in the Pacific in 1945-1962.