[Development of a job exposure matrix for the epidemiological follow-up of workers in the French nuclear industry]

Rev Epidemiol Sante Publique. 2008 Feb;56(1):21-9. doi: 10.1016/j.respe.2007.11.001. Epub 2008 Feb 8.
[Article in French]


Background: A pilot study was carried out in the AREVA NC Pierrelatte nuclear facility in order to investigate a possible carcinogenic effect of internal radiation exposure among nuclear workers in France. The objective of this study was to develop a method for retrospective reconstruction of the occupational exposure to internal radiation from uranium and associated chemical exposures.

Methods: A plant- and period-specific job exposure matrix (JEM) was designed. Job groups and exposure agents groups including uranium compounds and other chemical agents known as being carcinogenic, mutagenic or toxic were defined by an expert committee. Exposure was evaluated by active and retired workers included in the evaluator committee. A quantitative assignment of quantity and frequency of handling (both coded from 0 to 3) was performed for each agent groups using a method derived from the Delphi technique.

Results: In all, 23 experts and 353 evaluators participated to the JEM elaboration. A final JEM involved 232 "job-periods" presenting throughout the plant period 1960-2006 and 22 exposure agents groups in use at the plant. Six of them involved uranium compounds classified by their blood-transferability and toxicity characteristics. A first validation of the JEM by experts in radiological protection and industrial hygiene showed an acceptable internal consistency.

Conclusion: In the context of missing past exposure measurement data, the plant- and period-specific job exposure matrices may be considered as a valid alternative for exposure estimation. This method may be applied to other nuclear plants and offers allowance to investigate a possible carcinogenic effect of internal radiation exposure among nuclear workers.

Publication types

  • English Abstract

MeSH terms

  • France
  • Humans
  • Neoplasms / prevention & control
  • Nuclear Reactors*
  • Occupational Exposure / analysis*
  • Pilot Projects
  • Radiation Injuries / prevention & control
  • Risk Assessment