NIOSH understands this concern. It may seem obvious that when additional cancers are added to a dose reconstruction it would increase the probability that radiation caused the multiple cancers. However, in some cases, the NIOSH dose reconstruction will result in a lower probability of causation when additional cancers are added. An explanation for how and why this can happen is as follows:

Accurately estimating the exposure a worker received while working at a covered facility is a time consuming process. In order to complete dose reconstructions in as timely and efficient a manner as possible, NIOSH may make assumptions on dose estimates that are favorable to the claimant in order to simplify the dose reconstruction process.

For instance, instead of completing a dose reconstruction which precisely estimates the worker’s exposure for cases that would most likely result in a probability of causation well below the 50% necessary for the claim to be compensable by DOL, NIOSH will significantly over-estimate the exposure based on the highest levels of exposure observed or possible for the facility. If the claim will not be compensable even when using these significantly over-estimated exposure estimates, then no further refinement to the dose reconstruction is required.

This manner of dose reconstruction is called an “efficiency measure.” It allows NIOSH to issue a timely dose reconstruction where attempts to refine the exposure estimate would not result in a compensable claim (i.e., a full dose reconstruction would in all likelihood produce a much lower probability of causation than the over-estimated exposure values used).

Anytime a new cancer(s) is reported to NIOSH by DOL, NIOSH is required to rework the dose reconstruction to include the new cancer(s). If the new cancer(s) creates a potentially compensable case, NIOSH must refine the dose reconstruction using more probable and precise exposure estimates and not the significant over-estimates as mentioned above. These new, more accurate exposure estimates will be lower than the original estimate because we no longer use the assumptions which overestimated the radiation dose for the cancer found in the initial dose reconstruction. The revised radiation dose estimate may result in a probability of causation for the new cancer(s) that is lower than the non-compensable estimate that was obtained for the first cancer using the over-estimated radiation exposure. That is why the addition of a new cancer(s) may result in a probability of causation that is lower than the probability found for the single original cancer. However, this does not always occur when a new cancer(s) is added to a claim and NIOSH has to rework the dose reconstruction. It is possible for additional cancer(s) to produce a full dose reconstruction that will be determined to be compensable by DOL.

The use of “efficiency measures” and procedures for dose reconstructions that NIOSH follows under The Act are described in detail in Final Rule: Methods for Radiation Dose Reconstruction under EEOICPA–42 CFR 82 pdf icon[ PDF 129 KB (23 pages)].