Oak Ridge Health Studies

old photograph of the Oak Ridge ReservationBackground

The Oak Ridge Health Agreement Studies were a nine-year, $14 million effort to evaluate historical contaminant releases from the U.S. Department of Energy's Oak Ridge Reservation and the health problems these releases may have created among nearby residents. The studies, directed by the Tennessee Department of Health and funded by DOE, provided independent assessments of contaminant releases from the three Oak Ridge facilities (X-10, Y-12 and K-25). In some cases, Health Studies scientists showed that releases from Oak Ridge operations were substantially higher than had been previously acknowledged by the federal government.

The studies also included an independent assessment of health risks faced by communities in the area. In particular, the project included "dose reconstruction" studies focusing on four areas:

  • Releases of radioactive iodine-131 from Oak Ridge National Laboratory between 1944 and 1956 (then known as X-10);
  • Releases of mercury from the Y-12 Plant, particularly in the 1950s;
  • Releases of PCBs from facilities throughout the Oak Ridge Reservation;
  • Releases of radioactive substances from waste disposal areas at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (X-10) via White Oak Creek to the Clinch River.

In addition, less rigorous "screening studies" were included, focusing on more than a dozen other radioactive and otherwise hazardous substances used on the Oak Ridge reservation. The most thorough of these screening studies focused on the release of uranium, especially from the Y-12 Plant to the nearby Scarboro community.

This report was produced by and for the Oak Ridge Health Agreement Steering Panel. It is 92 pages long and presents background information and study results in a format that is easily understood by non-technical readers. It also includes many historical photographs from the Oak Ridge facilities and the Oak Ridge community, as well as several charts to help put the study information into context.

Final reports

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For more information:

DOE Public Reading Room
(865) 241-4780

Documents released by the Oak Ridge Health Studies are kept at the Public Reading Room. Reading Room hours are 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., except holidays.