Study Task

The National Academy of Sciences will provide an assessment of cancer risks in populations living near U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission-licensed nuclear facilities. This assessment will be carried out in two consecutive phases:

A Phase 1 scoping study will identify scientifically sound approaches for carrying out the cancer epidemiology study that has been requested by the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission. It will address the following tasks:

1. Methodological approaches for assessing off-site radiation dose, including consideration of:

  • Pathways, receptors, and source terms
  • Availability, completeness, and quality of information on gaseous and liquid radioactive releases and direct radiation exposure from nuclear facilities
  • Approaches for overcoming potential methodological limitations arising from the variability in radioactive releases over time and other confounding factors
  • Approaches for characterizing and communicating uncertainties


2. Methodological approaches for assessing cancer epidemiology, including consideration of:

  • Characteristics of the study populations (e.g., socioeconomic factors, all age groups, children only, and nuclear facility workers)
  • Geographic areas to use in the study (e.g., county, zip codes, census tracts, or annular rings around the facility at some nominal distances)
  • Cancer types and health outcomes of morbidity and mortality data
  • Availability, completeness, and quality of cancer incidence and mortality data
  • Different epidemiological study designs and statistical assessment methods (e.g., ecologic or case-control study designs)
  • Approaches for overcoming potential methodological limitations arising from low statistical power, random clustering, changes in population characteristics over time, and other confounding factors
  • Approaches for characterizing and communicating uncertainties


The results of this Phase 1 scoping study will be used to inform the design of the cancer risk assessment, which will be carried out in Phase 2.