Radiation Exposure

Diagnostic and Therapeutic Uses of Radiation

For more than 50 years, the Center has been at the forefront of efforts to refine the use of ionizing radiation in diagnosis and lower the potential risk(s) of exposure. Significant new clinical treatment modalities, including the widespread use of high dose-rate fractionated brachytherapy for prostate cancer, were developed by scientists at the CRR.

CRR faculty have made important contributions to our understanding of the individual health risks from repeated diagnostic CT exposure, the age-related risk of future cancers arising from prior diagnostic and therapeutic radiation exposures and the genetic determinants underlying our individual sensitivity to ionizing radiation exposure. These findings are likely to be important in the future development of personalized medicine and individualized applications of ionizing radiation in diagnosis and treatment.

CRR scientists have been at the forefront of efforts to advise health care providers and evaluate health risks arising from accidental overexposure during medical diagnosis and treatment.

Other Human Environmental Health Risks

In addition to our basic and translational research expertise in understanding the human health effects of ionizing radiation exposure, the CRR is also involved in understanding the health risks arising from exposure to other environmental hazards, most notably naturally occurring arsenic in groundwater and environmental asbestos exposure. Center investigators were the first to describe the oxidative mechanisms underlying arsenic toxicity. Faculty member Dr. Tom Hei is a member of the National Institute of Environmental Health Science (NIEHS) Superfund Research Program entitled Health Effects and Geochemistry of Arsenic and Manganese.

The Columbia Superfund Research Program investigates the health effects, geochemistry, and remediation of Arsenic (As) and Manganese (Mn), with a particular focus on groundwater.

The contamination of groundwater and soils with As and Mn is associated with major public health, remedial, and environmental policy problems both in the U.S. and abroad. Our interdisciplinary teams of bio-medical and geoscience researchers and students work with government scientists to better understand underlying exposure routes, pathophysiological mechanisms, and population dynamics that contribute to the risks from As and Mn and to translate new findings into effective policies that reduce environmental exposures and improve human health.