Residual Contamination

Residual contamination is radioactive material or beryllium that remains at a work site after activities related to nuclear weapons production has stopped. Generally, exposures from residual contamination are lower than exposures that occurred during the covered work period. The highest exposure occurs during active handling and processing of radioactive materials. Radiation doses from residual contamination are usually much lower than those received during the covered period.

If NIOSH identifies a facility as having residual radioactive contamination, employees (or their survivors) who worked at that facility during the period of residual contamination become eligible to file a claim under The Act, even if they did not work during a covered time period.

National Defense Authorization Acts for Fiscal Years 2002 and 2005

The National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2002 (Pub. L.107-107; Section 3151(b)) required that NIOSH submit, with the cooperation of the Department of Labor and Department of Energy, a report on whether or not significant contamination remained in any atomic weapons employer facility or facility of a beryllium vendor after the facility discontinued nuclear weapon production activities. NIOSH defines significant contamination as contamination in excess of those found in current occupational radiation protection, surface contamination values.

NIOSH issued the original report, “Report on Residual Radioactive and Beryllium Contamination at Atomic Weapons Employer Facilities and Beryllium Vendor Facilities,” in November 2002 and updated the report in October 2003. The Ronald W. Reagan National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2005 (Pub. L. 108-375; Section 3169) required that NIOSH submit an additional update to the report in December 2006. The report was updated again by NIOSH in October 2009 and August 2011. The most recent summary of the results is provided in the August 2011 report below.

For more information, please visit our FAQs: Residual Contamination page.


Previous Versions of the Residual Contamination Report

Page last reviewed: September 28, 2015