Public Health Activities at the Oak Ridge Reservation
The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) began its public health activities at the Oak Ridge Reservation in 1991. Since then, ATSDR has responded to requests and addressed public health issues and concerns of
- community members
- civic organizations
- other government agencies.
During the 1990’s, ATSDR’s public health activities determined whether current levels of environmental pollution at and near the Oak Ridge Reservation presented a public health hazard to communities close to the reservation. The agency's effort mainly focused on public health issues related to Superfund clean-up activities at off-site areas affected by Oak Ridge Reservation operations, such as the East Fork Poplar Creek area and the Watts Bar Reservoir.
Public Health Assessments
In 2001, ATSDR began work on the public health assessment process of evaluating historical releases of hazardous substances from the Oak Ridge Reservation that could have affected the health of people in communities near the reservation. The process began when results of the Tennessee Department of Health’s Oak Ridge Health Studies were available and the Oak Ridge Reservation Health Effects Subcommittee had been established by CDC and ATSDR. This process provided a public forum for community interaction. ATSDR scientists expanded on the Oak Ridge Health Studies efforts by conducting nine public health assessments on releases of hazardous substances requiring further public health evaluation and public health issues of concern to the community.
Chemical-specific public health assessments included the following:
- Y-12 releases of Uranium
- Y-12 releases of Mercury
- X-10 release of Iodine 131
- X-10 release of Radionuclides form White Oak Creek
- K-25 and S-50 releases of Uranium and Fluoride
- PCBs released from all three facilities
- Evaluation of current (1990-2003) future chemical exposures
Issue-specific public health assessments included the following:
- Toxic Substances Control Act Incinerator
- Contaminated Off-Site Groundwater
Assessment of Cancer Incidence
In response to community concerns about a perceived increased in cancer in the area surrounding the Oak Ridge Reservation, ATSDR also conducted an Assessment of Cancer Incidence in Counties Adjacent to Oak Ridge Reservation which is a descriptive epidemiologic analysis that provides a general picture of the occurrence of cancer in each of the eight counties adjacent to the Oak Ridge Reservation.
Other ATSDR Public Health Activities
In addition to conducting health consultations and public health assessments, ATSDR used other systematic public health approaches such as technical consultation, and community and physician education to address and evaluate public health issues related to chemical and radioactive substances released from the Oak Ridge Reservation.