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Human irradiation data now on Internet.

Over the past year, news stories have recounted, sometimes in vast detail, a host of federally sponsored studies testing radiation's effects on humans. A trove of files describing these discontinued experiments, involving about 9,000 individuals, has now been declassified. By April 15, the documents should be available for computer viewing by historians, health physicists, and anyone else with access to the Internet.

Last week, attorney Ellyn R. Weiss, director of the Department of Energy's year-old Office of Human Radiation Experiments (OHRE), described her group's efforts to identify and unearth documentation pertaining to radiation experimentation carried out since 1944 by DOE's predecessor agencies.

"We started out with a universe of 3.2 million cubic feet of records scattered all over the country," she says. From these, OHRE compiled a database of the most critical 150,000 pages of photos and text, describing slightly more than 150 experiments, Weiss says. But, she adds, "we know about and are trying to piece together information about at least another 150." Those additional data should be on-line later this year.

Files on the first 150 experiments are now being photographed and loaded onto Internet's World Wide Web. Because OHRE scans in the files' text, on-line users can search any of the documents by typing in key words. For instance, keying in Glenn Seaborg (Science Service's board chairman) and plutonium (the element whose discovery helped win him a Nobel Prize) brings up 60 hits -- representing 24 separate documents -- from the 500 pages currently on-line.

The electronic address for the "home page," which allows computer users to browse through attached files, is http://www.eh.doe.gov/ohre/home.htm. DOE also offers electronic mail (E-mail) support services for accessing the files at ohre-support@hq.doe.gov.

And for those not yet comfortable "surfing the 'net," paper copies of the same photos, memos, and reports await perusal at OHRE's headquarters in Washington, D.C., and its Coordination and Information Center in Las Vegas, Nev.
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Title Annotation:database compiled by Department of Energy's Office of Human Radiation Experiments on World Wide Web; electronic address included
Author:Raloff, Janet
Publication:Science News
Article Type:Brief Article
Date:Feb 18, 1995
Words:328
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