Worker Health Protection Program (WHPP)

The Worker Health Protection Program (WHPP) is administered in conjunction with the United Steelworkers (USW) and the Atomic Trades and Labor Council (ATLC). The consortium utilizes independent occupational medicine physicians to provide medical screening to workers of Department of Energy (DOE) nuclear defense facilities. Workers from DOE facilities may be at an increased risk of occupational illness due to exposure to ionizing radiation, beryllium, asbestos, volatile organic compounds and other toxic substances. The primary goals of the program are to detect illnesses at an early stage when medical intervention may be helpful and to determine if existing health conditions are occupational in origin. 

WHPP is funded by the Department of Energy (DOE) as part of the Former Worker Medical Surveillance Program (FWP), which was created by a Congressional mandate in the Defense Authorization Act of 1993. The mandate directed the DOE to fund voluntary medical screening for the surviving members of the nuclear workforce, which has been estimated to be over 600,000. United States nuclear operations began in the mid-1940's, starting with the Manhattan Project, increased throughout the Cold War, and continues today with civilian energy, remediation and research projects. 

WHPP is presently one of the largest of the FWPs and has conducted screening for DOE workers since 1999. WHPP presently serves the following DOE sites: the Paducah Gaseous Diffusion Plant (GDP) in Kentucky; the Portsmouth GDP and the Fernald and Mound closure sites in Ohio; the Idaho National Laboratory in Idaho; Brookhaven National Laboratory in New York; the K-25 GDP, Y-12 and Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee; the Nevada Test Site and the Lawrence Livermore, Lawrence Berkeley and Sandia National Laboratories in California.

To date, WHPP has screened over 25,000 former and current workers and performed over 30,000 examinations, including three-year follow-up exams. Examinations include tests for occupational disease related to exposures from DOE work such as asbestosis, chronic beryllium disease, emphysema, hearing loss, silicosis and some cancers. When illness is found during the screening, WHPP physicians make recommendations for appropriate follow up treatment. Additionally, findings from WHPP physicals may be useful to support state and federal worker's compensation claims, including the Department of Labor's Energy Employee Occupational Illness Compensation Program (EEOICP): 

Saving Lives, one DOE worker at a time: Former DOE workers tell how medical screening helps them lead healthier and longer lives.


For more information on the Worker Health Protection Program, visit:
Click on the link to view the report: Department of Energy Former Worker Program 2010 Annual Report

  • United Steel Workers
  • Atomic Trades and Labor Council
  • Worker Health Protection Program
Steven Markowitz
Steven Markowitz

Steven Markowitz, M.D. is a physician specializing in occupational and environmental medicine. Dr. Markowitz is currently Director of the Center for the Biology of Natural Systems (CBNS) and Professor of Environmental Sciences at Queens College, City University of New York. He is also Adjunct Professor of Community and Preventive Medicine at Mount Sinai School of Medicine, where he was on the full-time faculty from 1986 to 1998. He received his undergraduate education at Yale University and his medical degree from Columbia University. Dr. Markowitz is board-certified in occupational and environmental medicine and internal medicine. 

Dr. Markowitz currently directs the Worker Health Protection Program, a medical screening program for former Department of Energy workers who built the nuclear weapon arsenal of the United States. This program is co-sponsored by the United Steelworkers International Union and the Atomic Trades & Labor Council. This program conducts the largest early lung cancer detection project in occupational health in the country through the application of low-dose helical CAT scanning. To date, over 10,000 workers who were exposed to asbestos, uranium, and other lung carcinogens have been screened for lung cancer in this program. 

Dr. Markowitz co-directs the North Shore-LIJ/Queens College World Trade Center Clinical Center of Excellence and monitors the health of over 2,000 WTC workers and provides treatment services to WTC workers with 9/11-related health conditions. 

Dr. Markowitz' research interests center on occupational and environmental disease surveillance; occupational cancer; asbestos-related diseases; and the burden and costs of occupational diseases and injuries. Dr. Markowitz is Editor-in-Chief of the American Journal of Industrial Medicine. He is Associate Editor with William Rom MD of a major textbook, Environmental and Occupational Medicine, (4nd Edition, Lippincott William and Wilkens, New York, 2007, 1884 pp.). In 2000, he co-authored a landmark book, Costs of Occupational Injuries and Illnesses (University of Michigan Press). He has additionally served as a consultant to the World Health Organization, the Pan American Health Organization, and the Department of Energy. 

Portfolio #6
Lewis Pepper

Lew Pepper has worked as a physician and researcher in occupational health for the past 25 years. His research has focused on the health impacts of exposures to lead and other workplace hazards, as well as the impacts of work organization and employee control on workers' health and productivity. For the past fifteen years Dr. Pepper has studied the US Department of Energy workforce. He completed a five-year study of the health impacts of the large-scale downsizing of DOE employees in the early 1990s. For the past twelve years he has lead a medical screening and surveillance study of former employees of the DOE's Nevada Test Site, Lawrence Livermore and Berkeley Labs and the Sandia National Laboratory in California who were exposed to numerous hazards during the weapons testing era. Along with investigators at other DOE facilities, Dr. Pepper has helped create for DOE the first comprehensive federal employee compensation program. Dr. Pepper's interest in the relationship between the social organization of work, worker autonomy, and health status continues to shape his ongoing research and professional interests. 

Zulleyka Ortega
Jonathan Corbin