Researchers at the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health are inviting former workers at the Los Alamos National Laboratory to participate in a free medical examination program. Investigators will attempt to determine if any of these workers suffer from diseases potentially associated with their work at the New Mexico site. As many as 3,200 former LANL workers are expected to be examined.
Similar examination programs are being set up at seven other U.S. Department of Energy nuclear weapon sites around the United States.
"We want to determine if people who worked on building nuclear weapons during the Cold War are at any health risk because of what they worked with or around," said Patrick N. Breysse, an associate professor in the Department of Environmental Health Sciences in the School of Public Health. "If the answer to this question is yes, then we want to help them to get medical treatment."
Breysse pointed out that enlisted personnel who are wounded in a war, or who later become ill, have always been able to turn to the Veterans Administration for help. Through the creation of these former worker projects, the DOE is beginning to assume responsibility for U.S. civilians who may have been harmed while winning the Cold War.
Scientists, technicians and tradespeople who worked at Los Alamos at any time from 1942 until 1999 and who are no longer working there are being asked to call the Former Workers Program if they believe they may have been exposed to harmful levels of asbestos, beryllium, lead, noise or ionizing radiation.
By calling the toll-free number, 877-500-8615, former workers can learn more about the program and can provide information that will help to determine if they are eligible for a free examination or medical record review. If eligible, former workers can schedule a free exam at Los Alamos or in Espanola, N.M. They also may choose to have selected information from the last two years of their medical records reviewed by doctors affiliated with the School of Public Health.
The Johns Hopkins Former Workers Program will pay for an initial medical exam and will provide advice about follow-up treatment and the worker's compensation system. (Workers with beryllium-related disease may also be eligible to receive free medical follow-up evaluations paid for by the DOE.) The Former Workers Program also will assist persons needing follow-up to locate a private physician if they do not already have one.
All medical and personal information gathered will be kept confidential. "The Former Workers Program will not be collecting any classified information," said Brian S. Schwartz, an associate professor in the Department of Environmental Health Sciences, School of Public Health, "and no confidential, personal or medical information will be given to the DOE without the written consent of program participants." Schwartz said that applicants having doubts or concerns about whether a topic is classified may call the LANL Classifications Office at 505-667-5011.
The address of the office taking all referrals is The Johns Hopkins University, Former LANL Workers Program, Espanola Medical Arts Building, 1010 Spruce St., Suite B, Espanola, NM 87532. The toll-free number is 877-500-8615; local in Espanola, 505-753-0193; and in Maryland, 410-955-4587. The e-mail address is LANLFWMS@jhsph.edu. The website is: http://www.jhsph.edu/~lanlfw/.
The Johns Hopkins Former Workers Program is being funded by the U.S. Department of Energy.