Document Type


Degree Name



Dept. of Public Health and Preventive Medicine


Oregon Health & Science University


Background. From 1951 to 1989, the Fernald Feed Materials Production Center released uranium dust into the atmosphere and ground water, resulting in contamination of the surrounding rural area. Residents expressed multiple health concerns, one of which was thyroid health. Little research has examined the effects of uranium exposure and autoimmune thyroid disease (AITD) in the general population. The Fernald Resident Medical Monitoring Program (FMMP) provides a unique opportunity to examine the presence of AITD among a cohort of adults with individually estimated airborne uranium exposure. Purpose. To evaluate the association between uranium exposure and AITD. Demonstration of an association would alert FMMP physicians to be especially aware of thyroid health among participants who live or have lived in the Fernald area leading to early detection and treatment. Methods. ICD-9 codes assigned to disease conditions over the 18-year follow-up on 8,787 adult FMMP participants were used to identify cases of AITD. Cases were frequency matched by year of birth and sex to create a 1:4 case-control ratio. Identified incident cases were categorized into four AITD outcomes, all AITD Cases and three subcategories: a) Hashimoto Thyroiditis (ICD-9: 245.2), b) Graves’ Disease (ICD-9: 242.0), and c) Idiopathic Myxedema (ICD-9: 244.9). Cumulative airborne uranium exposure groups (low0.50 ug/m3) were created by FMMP investigators based on the individual continuous cumulative exposure estimates established through the efforts of the CDC Fernald Dosimetry Reconstruction Project. Multivariate logistic regression was used to examine the odds of exposure type for each of the case outcome categorizations, adjusting for covariates. Results. Cumulative airborne uranium exposure was not found to be associated with any of the AITD categories. Conclusion. We failed to demonstrate an association between cumulative airborne uranium exposure and any of the AITD categories, in the FMMP population. While the community should be made known of the limitations of this study, based on our results, we suggest that AITD is not a top concern for the exposed residential population around Fernald. We believe that standard AITD screening and treatment procedures are sufficient for this population.




School of Medicine



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