June 25, 2021
The end of World War II brought with it the discovery of a devastating new type of weapon that sparked a global interest in uranium. During the Manhattan Project and as the Cold War began, facilities emerged across the United States dedicated to mining, milling, refining, and processing uranium ore into weapons to feed the national stockpile. During the same time period, the fledgling field of radiation epidemiology began to mature through detailed studies of Japanese atomic bomb survivors; despite the tragic circumstances, these survivor cohorts provided a wealth of information. This knowledge was augmented by studies of long-term effects following exposures to radiation through nuclear reactor accidents and radiation uses in medicine, including studies designed by one of the fathers of modern epidemiology, Sir Richard Doll. The majority of epidemiological findings to date have emerged from studies of populations exposed to gamma and X-ray irradiation delivered in a short amount of time. Uranium worker cohort studies present an opportunity to research the effects of multiple types of radiation delivered chronically over time, which will advance understanding of possible radiation effects in workers and the public, as well as space radiation effects in astronauts.
In this talk, I will introduce the field of radiation epidemiology, describe several US-based uranium processing facilities, and present results from a few of these ongoing cohort studies.
Cato Milder is a PhD candidate in the Vanderbilt University PhD Program in Epidemiology, studying radiation epidemiology under the mentorship of Dr. John Boice, Jr. He is conducting his dissertation research on the long-term effects of chronic, low-dose radiation on health in occupational cohorts with exposures to uranium. His interests include data harmonization methods to pool cohorts with varying available information and modification in health effects following irradiation from different types of exposures.
Cato received his BS in physiology and his BA in Japanese language from the University of Arizona, and he received his MSPH in global disease epidemiology and control from the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health. Prior to his current studies, he worked as a research fellow at the Radiation Effects Research Foundation in Hiroshima, Japan, where he contributed to epidemiological studies of atomic bomb survivor populations.
When he’s not digging through radiation data, Cato can be found teaching fitness classes, getting outside, and being as loud as he can about LGBTQIA+ rights.