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March 22, 2000

Johns Hopkins School of Public Health Will Offer Free Medical Exams to Former Los Alamos Workers 

Researchers at the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health are inviting former workers at the Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) to participate in a free medical examination program. As many as 3,200 former LANL workers will be examined. Investigators will attempt to determine if any of these workers suffer from diseases potentially associated with their work at the New Mexico site.

Former Los Alamos workers -- those who worked at the site at any time from 1942 until 1999 and who are no longer working there -- are asked to call the toll-free number at the Española office of the Former Workers Program at 877-500-8615 if they believe they may have been exposed to harmful levels of asbestos, beryllium, lead, noise, or ionizing radiation. By calling the toll-free number, former workers can learn more about the program and can provide information that will help to determine if they are eligible for a free examination or medical record review. If eligible, former workers can schedule a free exam at either of two locations: Los Alamos or Española, New Mexico. Eligible former workers may also choose to have selected information from the last two years of their medical records reviewed by doctors affiliated with the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health.

Los Alamos scientists, technicians, and trades people may be eligible for the free medical examinations and referral service. Similar examination programs are being set up at seven other DOE nuclear weapon sites around the United States.

According to Patrick N. Breysse, PhD, associate professor, Environmental Health Sciences, Johns Hopkins School of Public Health, "We want to determine if people who worked on building nuclear weapons during the cold war are at any health risk because of what they worked with or around. If the answer to this question is yes, then we want to help them to get medical treatment." Dr. Breysse pointed out that enlisted personnel who are wounded in a war, or who later become ill, have always been able to turn to the Veterans Administration for help. Through the creation of these former worker projects, the DOE is beginning to assume responsibility for U.S. civilians who may have been harmed while winning the Cold War.

The Johns Hopkins Former Workers Program will pay for an initial medical exam and will then provide advice about follow-up treatment and the Worker's Compensation system. (Workers with beryllium-related disease may also be eligible to receive free medical follow-up evaluations paid for by the DOE). The Former Workers Program will also assist persons needing follow-up to locate a private physician if they do not already have one.

All medical and personal information gathered by the Program will be kept confidential. "The Former Workers Program will not be collecting any classified information," said Brian S. Schwartz, MD, MS, associate professor, Environmental Health Sciences, Johns Hopkins School of Public Health, "and no confidential, personal or medical information will be given to the DOE without the written consent of Program participants." Dr. Schwartz said that applicants having doubts or concerns about whether a topic is classified, may call 505-667-5011 and discuss the matter with the LANL Classifications Office.

The address of the Española office of the Program, which is taking all referrals, is:

The Johns Hopkins Former Workers Program is being funded by the U.S. Department of Energy.

Public Affairs Media Contacts for the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health: Tim Parsons or Kenna Brigham @ 410-955-6878 or paffairs@jhsph.edu.