Fernald Dosimetry Reconstruction Project - Fernald, Ohio

What is the Dose Reconstruction Process?
  • Gather information about area of radiation exposure and assess data
  • Identify pathways of internal and external exposure
  • Determine methods of calculation to estimate screening doses and exposures
  • Develop methods to assess and estimate environmental doses
  • Determine risk of environmental exposures through selected calculation method
  • Document reconstruction procedures and results


In 1988, Congress requested that CDC conduct an epidemiologic study to assess the potential association between exposure to ionizing radiation and the level of disease in the community surrounding the former Feed Material Processing Center (FMPC) in Fernald, Ohio. In response to this request, CDC initiated the Fernald Dosimetry Reconstruction Project to produce comprehensive estimates of the radiation dose in the nearby communities that may have resulted from the release of radioactive materials from the site during its years of operation, 1951-1988.

Results from Fernald Dosimetry Reconstruction Project

Results of this project, released in 1998, indicated that the largest radiation dose to those who resided near the site was likely due to exposure to radon and radon decay products and uranium. The results also indicated that the estimated dose to the lung resulting from this exposure was significantly greater than the estimated site-related dose to any other organ.

Fernald Risk Assessment Project

While the results of the Fernald Dosimetry Reconstruction Project addressed questions concerning the amount of radioactive material released from the FMPC site during its operational years, the project did not provide comprehensive estimates of the potential health effects that may have occurred as a result of these exposures. CDC addressed these concerns in the Fernald Risk Assessment Project. CDC used the results of the dose reconstruction project to develop estimates of the number of specific health outcomes that may occur in the community within 10 kilometers (6.2 miles) of the former FMPC site as a result of exposure to radioactive material released from the site during the operational years. Due to the predominance of the dose to the lung resulting from exposure to radon and radon decay products released from the site, the first phase of the project focused on estimation of the impact of these exposures on the risk of lung cancer mortality.

Results from Fernald Risk Assessment Project

The primary result of this research showed that the number of lung cancer deaths occurring within the community surrounding the FMPC site from 1951 through 1988 may be increased by 1% to 12% as a result of FMPC-related radiation exposures. Risk estimates provided by this project will also be a key component in assessing the feasibility of conducting in-depth epidemiologic investigations at Fernald. In consultation with the Fernald Health Effects Subcommittee, future Branch efforts in the risk assessment project will focus on estimating the potential risks of other health outcomes potentially associated with exposure to radiation released from the site including leukemia, bone and kidney cancer.

Page last reviewed: January 3, 2014