To: "NRC" <>
Re: Beta blockers and control rooms
Date: January 7th, 2004

To The Secretary:

I am interested in knowing if the Nuclear Regulatory Commission has any law or regulation banning people who are taking any of the heart medications known as "beta blockers" from working in the control room, on the electrical equipment, with heavy machinery, in the security system, or anywhere else at a nuclear power plant while taking, or under the effects of, such medications.

It is well known that beta blockers adversely affect people's ability to, for example, drive a car or operate heavy machinery.  Is it also forbidden for them to work at a nuclear power plant?

I would like to know the exact paragraph which refers to "beta blockers" specifically.  If operating a nuclear power plant while on these medications is legal, I would certainly like to know what the justification for that is, including the exact paragraph which permits it.

Also, I would like to know the average number of days each year the nuclear industry has employees out sick because they are using, or have used, "beta blockers".


Russell Hoffman
Concerned Citizen
Carlsbad, CA

Some suggested online citations regarding these medications.  Note that none of them suggest not operating the control room of a nuclear power plant, although they all should, since that would be the most dangerous place a person using beta blockers might be:


This web page suggests possible problems include "worsening of depression" after extended use:

This web page, in a list of the most common side-effects of antiarrhythmia medications (of which Beta Blockers are one, and Calcium Channel Blockers and Inotropes are two more) indicates "confusion" is one of the possible side-effects of these medications:

Another drug to avoid is Maprotiline, an antidepressant.  The list of possible side effects mentioned here includes "confusion", hallucinations", and "unusual excitement", and "can impair the ability to safely drive, operate heavy machinery, or engage in other potentially hazardous activities".  Is the use of the drug Maprotiline specifically prohibited in NRC regulations?

Maltax, given for migraines, should also be avoided since, as this web page indicates, it can cause everything from "agitation" to "a feeling of well-being" to "heart attacks".  Is the use of Maltax banned at nuclear facilities?