WRITER: DEBRA VENZKE
CONTACT: DAN MCMILLAN
Iowa City IA 52242
(319) 335-6835; fax (319) 384-4638
Release: Oct. 18, 2001
UI College of Public Health to continue screening health of former atomic
IOWA CITY, Iowa -- University of Iowa College of Public Health researchers
have received a second year of funding from the U.S. Department of Energy
(DOE) to continue surveying the health status of former atomic weapons workers
at the Iowa Army Ammunition plant (IAAP) near Burlington.
The $790,000 grant renewal will be used primarily to gather health and work
histories of former IAAP workers and provide medical screenings to specific
groups based on their occupational exposure to potentially hazardous substances.
For the past year, UI researchers have been identifying thousands of former
workers who worked in atomic weapons manufacture at the plant in an area known
as Line 1. From 1945 through 1975, workers on Line 1 assembled and disassembled
atomic weapons for the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission, the precursor of the
DOE. The IAAP was one of only two facilities in the United States known to
have assembled nuclear weapons into the final product.
"Evidence suggests that a large number of workers had potentially significant
exposures to detrimental agents such as asbestos, beryllium, radiation and
explosives," said Laurence Fuortes, M.D., UI associate professor of occupational
and environmental health and principal investigator of the DOE project. "Workers
who participate in the health screenings will receive information about their
test results, risk factors and the need for any additional medical follow-up."
Workers will also receive help to determine if they are eligible for federal
and state workers' compensation programs, Fuortes added.
UI investigators estimate they will screen 500 workers each year for the
next several years. Plans are being developed to send a mobile health care
service provider to the Burlington area to conduct hearing, lung function
and blood tests. Chest X-rays will be performed at local participating hospitals.
Burlington Atomic Energy Commission Plant - Former Worker Program (BAECP)
staff are also available to help Burlington residents fill out forms for the
Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation Act (EEOICP). BAECP staff
will be in Burlington Oct. 16, 18, 23 and 25 between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. at
the Machinists' Union Hall in Middletown. For more information on the medical
screening program or to schedule an appointment to complete the EEOICP forms,
call the project's toll-free number at (866)-282-5818.