In October 2004, Congress amended the EEOICPA with Part E which provides compensation and medical benefits for Department of Energy (DOE) contractor and subcontractor employees for whom it is found that "it is at least as likely as not that exposure to a toxic substance at a DOE facility was a significant factor in aggravating, contributing to or causing their illness." The law also applies to certain employees of uranium mines, mills, ore-buying stations, and ore transporters. The Site Exposure Matrices (SEM) website contains toxic substance exposure information in a relational database structure and has been reviewed and approved for public release by the DOE.
Using information made available by the DOE and from publicly available and other resources, the SEM identifies the toxic substances known to have been used in each DOE facility, uranium mine, uranium mill, uranium ore-buying station or uranium ore transport. The SEM identifies the work groups known to have used each substance, the buildings where they were used, and incidents involving the substance. Users should be aware that complete documentation of toxic substance use at each site is not available to DOL, and may not exist in some cases. As additional information is learned and reviewed by DOE, it is added to SEM. Users are encouraged to submit information about chemical use to the DOL for consideration of use in SEM.
The SEM contains two general categories of information: chemical profiles and site-specific information. For a selected toxic substance, its chemical profile includes the Chemical Abstracts Service (CAS) number that identifies the chemical, aliases for the substance name, chemical and physical properties. The SEM includes occupational health effects as defined by the National Library of Medicine’s Haz-Map database. SEM includes health effects information only on toxic-disease causal relationships. Although aggravation of an existing disease or health effect is covered by Part E, such relationships are not covered in SEM. Instead, they are evaluated on a case-by-case basis during claims adjudication.
For the selected DOE or mining site, the SEM provides site-specific information about the work processes performed, where on the site those processes were performed, the work groups (labor categories) that performed the processes, the toxic substances used, and site-specific aliases used for toxic substances, buildings, and work groups. For labor groups such as janitors or security guards that performed a work process across all or most of a site, buildings are not listed.
2. CONFIGURING YOUR BROWSER
To avoid barriers for people with disabilities, the SEM Website uses “Submit” selection buttons. Whenever the user makes a selection or applies a filter, it is necessary to then click the applicable Submit button to execute that command.
4. SEM HOME PAGE
The SEM home page (www.sem.dol.gov) presents links to available search options. Links to each search option are also presented in the horizontal menu at the bottom of the page.
In this Help Guide, the term “site” is used to refer generally to: a DOE facility; a uranium mine; a uranium mill; a uranium ore-buying station; or a uranium ore transport operation. The following section provides information on how to use SEM, starting from the SEM home page, to conduct various site searches.
To get started, first indicate the type of site (DOE facility, uranium mine, uranium mill, uranium ore-buying station, or uranium ore transport) using the type selection buttons (bulls eye) on the bottom of the SEM home page (Figure 1) and clicking the Submit selection button.
|Figure 1: Selecting the type of facility on the SEM home page.|
On the returned page, if you have selected “Show DOE facilities” then indicate the DOE facility you are interested in by selecting it on the Site selector drop-down menu and clicking the Submit selection button. For uranium mines a state must be selected; a county must be selected; and then the mine can then be selected from a list of mines in the selected state and county. Similarly, for uranium mills and ore-buying stations, a state must be selected before a particular facility can be selected. For uranium ore transporters, the company of interest can be selected from the drop-down menu showing the names of the transport companies.
Once a site has been selected, the returned page shows a list of all the chemicals known to have been used at the site (Figure 2). (Note: Although this example if for a DOE site, the approach is also applicable to uranium mines and the other types of facilities with SEM data.) A chemical on the list may have been used at many areas or only one small area of the site.
|Figure 2. List showing the toxic substances known to be present at the selected facility (example).|
The returned page also contains a link to expanded data for the site. Clicking on the spyglass labeled "View expanded SEM data for the selected facility:" provides a page ("Detailed SEM Data Home Page", Figure 3) with information on buildings, labor categories, work processes and incidents at the site. Not all categories of information apply to all sites. If a category of information does not apply to the site selected, then a link to that information will not be displayed on the Detailed SEM Data Home Page. For example, if SEM contains no information about incidents at a site, then the Incidents category will not be displayed on the Detailed SEM Data Home Page.
|Figure 3. Detailed SEM Data Home page for the selected facility (example).|
5. FOCUS PAGES FOR TOXIC SUBSTANCES, DISEASES, AREAS, FACILITIES, BUILDINGS, PROCESSES, LABOR CATEGORIES, AND INCIDENTS
The Detailed SEM Data Home Page presents links to pages that focus on different topics of interest: toxic substances, diseases (health effects), areas, facilities, buildings, processes, labor categories, and incidents for the selected site (e.g., Portsmouth Gaseous Diffusion Plant). After selecting one of these topics, the returned focus page (e.g., "Toxic substance information") presents a drop-down menu for selecting the item of interest (e.g., diglycolamine) and a “Select” button to submit your request (Figure 4).
|Figure 4: Selecting a toxic substance from the Toxic substance detail page drop-down menu (example)|
Clicking the “Submit select Toxic Substance and filters” button will return a page (Figure 5) that displays information about use of the selected item at the site (e.g., in this example, diglycolamine was used in two buildings, in one process, by machinists at the Portsmouth Gaseous Diffusion Plant). A user seeking help with a more advanced search should submit a request using the "Submit Site-Related Information” form accessible from the SEM home page.
|Figure 5: Detail of toxic substance focus page after a selection has been made|
5.1 SECONDARY FILTERS
The returned page for the selected item of interest (e.g., Figure 5, diglycolamine) provides options for secondary filtering of the lists of related items. The secondary filters are located at the top of the page (Figure 6). Multiple secondary filters may be applied, one at a time. For example, applying the building filter "X-720" and pressing the Submit button limits the search results to those applicable to that building.
|Figure 6: Secondary filters|
5.2 SPECIAL FEATURES OF THE TOXIC SUBSTANCE FOCUS PAGE
The toxic substance focus page for each substance has a link to the National Library of Medicine (NLM) Haz-Map website. (Note: If a toxic substance focus page does not have a link to Haz-Map, then Haz-Map does not have information on the substance.) The Haz-Map site contains expanded information about the selected substance. In Figure 5, clicking on “NLM Haz-Map - Diglycolamine” on the NLM Haz-Map REFERENCES section of the page will take you to the Haz-Map information on the diglycolamine.
5.3 LABOR CATEGORIES
Some labor categories, e.g., guards, laborers and janitors, routinely work in multiple locations or buildings on a site. Persons in such positions may work in all or almost all buildings of a site during a career. SEM shows the toxic substances directly associated with the work performed by a labor category, e.g., gasoline used in mowing machines by laborers, and does not always show the locations where such work was performed. The lack of a building designation for such labor categories indicates that the work was performed site-wide. If an incident or other event occurred that could have exposed a person in one of these labor categories to substances being used by other workers in a building, then additional SEM searches will be necessary. Simply being in a building where other work was being performed does not indicate that an exposure occurred to the substances being used in that work.
The following steps should be used to identify potential construction worker exposures. The instructions help identify the toxic substances and hazards inherent to the selected construction craft. These are exposure hazards typical of general craft work activities and are independent of the site where the work is being performed.
|1.||Go to the SEM home page. Select "Show DOE Facilities" at the bottom of the page. On the returned page, select “Construction (all sites)” from the drop down Facility menu.|
|2.||Select the Labor category information link. From the drop-down menu, select the title of the construction labor category of interest, e.g., “Electrician, construction”.|
|3.||The list of substances returned are those typically used by a worker in the construction labor category selected.|
The above steps will not identify potential construction worker exposures to chemicals present at the site where construction work was being performed. If you believe such exposure may have occurred, then use building, work process or other sections of the SEM database for the facility of interest to further your search.
7. SEARCH PAGES
Because you may not always be able to identify toxic substances, health effects, areas, facilities, buildings, process (activities), and labor categories (jobs) the way they are formally listed in the SEM database, several text searches are provided to help you find the item of interest. These searches can be accessed on the Detailed SEM Data Home Page by clicking on the applicable link:
- Toxic substance by alias or property
- Toxic substance by disease or health effect by alias
- Disease or health effect by alias
- On-site location by alias
- Process by alias
- Labor category by alias
7.1 GUIDELINES FOR TEXT SEARCHES
Attempts have been made to anticipate the different ways that names and aliases might be entered in SEM. Nevertheless, when searching for an item which is, or could be, expressed in a multi-word or hyphenated form, it is suggested that the search be performed for one word at a time.
For example, when searching for the formal toxic substance name for “yellow cake” you may get better results by searching for “yellow” and “cake” separately, to ensure that all possible toxic substances are found which may be of interest.
It is important to keep in mind that searching for partial words may return non-relevant items. For example, searching for “LEU” in the toxic substance alias search will return both uranium (via the abbreviation for low-enriched uranium) and petroleum.
8. TOXIC SUBSTANCE EXPOSURE AND DISEASE RELATIONSHIPS
DOL uses established relationships between toxic substance exposures and occupational diseases as reported by the National Library of Medicine on its Haz-Map website
The toxic substance causal exposure/disease relationships acknowledged by DOL are those reported in Haz-Map. For a selected chemical, the SEM row labeled “SPECIFIC HEALTH EFFECTS” displays the link(s) shown in Haz-Map. Haz-Map also contains additional information in its “Comments” and “Exposure Assessment” sections that is not shown in SEM. Additionally, SEM is not the sole resource for determining causation under Part E, but rather represents only one avenue by which causal links can be established. Evidence presented in support of a particular claim is evaluated on a case-by-case basis.
The SEM home page has “Submit” buttons that can be used to submit information to the DOL.
This feature can be used if you:
- need assistance accessing the site or using the database,
- have comments or suggestions for improving the website, or
- wish to submit information for consideration for inclusion in SEM.
Users are encouraged to submit information, suggestions and questions.
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