Nuclear Engineering ETDs


Adam Davis

Publication Date



This research develops a new framework for evaluating the occupational risks of exposure to hazardous substances in any setting where As Low As Reasonably Achievable (ALARA) practices are mandated or used. The evaluation is performed by developing a hypothesis-test-based procedure for evaluating the homogeneity of various epidemiological cohorts, and thus the appropriateness of the application of aggregate data-pooling techniques to those cohorts. A statistical methodology is then developed as an alternative to aggregate pooling for situations in which individual cohorts show heterogeneity between them and are thus unsuitable for pooled analysis. These methods are then applied to estimate the all-cancer mortality risks incurred by workers at four Department-of-Energy nuclear weapons laboratories. Both linear, no-threshold and dose-bin averaged risks are calculated and it is further shown that aggregate analysis tends to overestimate the risks with respect to those calculated by the methods developed in this work. The risk estimates developed in Chapter 2 are, in Chapter 3, applied to assess the risks to workers engaged in americium recovery operations at Los Alamos National Laboratory. The work described in Chapter 3 develops a full radiological protection assessment for the new americium recovery project, including development of exposure cases, creation and modification of MCNP5 models, development of a time-and-motion study, and the final synthesis of all data. This work also develops a new risk-based method of determining whether administrative controls, such as staffing increases, are ALARA-optimized. The EPAs estimate of the value of statistical life is applied to these risk estimates to determine a monetary value for risk. The rate of change of this 'risk value' (marginal risk) is then compared with the rate of change of workers' compensations as additional workers are added to the project to reduce the dose (and therefore, presumably, risk) to each individual.


Health Physics


Integrated Nuclear Planning Team at Los Alamos National Laboratory

Document Type




Degree Name

Nuclear Engineering

Level of Degree


Department Name

Nuclear Engineering

First Committee Member (Chair)

Hecht, Adam

Second Committee Member

Ross, Timothy

Third Committee Member

Moore de Almeida Dias da Cunha, Kenya

Fourth Committee Member

Dudziak, Donald

Fifth Committee Member

Kornreich, Drew