Natural Resources and Environment:

Efforts by the Environmental Protection Agency To Protect the Public from Environmental Nonionizing Radiation Exposures

CED-78-79: Published: Mar 29, 1978. Publicly Released: Mar 29, 1978.

Contact:

Office of Public Affairs
(202) 512-4800
youngc1@gao.gov

Nonionizing radiation has become a subject of national concern because of the rapid increases in its use and its potential harm to public health. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is responsible for eliminating or reducing unnnecessary potentially harmful health effects by limiting exposure from radiation sources.

Currently, there is no official U.S. environmental public health standard for exposure to nonionizing radiation sources because U.S. research programs have not yet developed sufficient data to establish standards for microwave and other nonionizing frequencies. EPA has directed its program study to determine levels and effects of microwave radiation and radiation associated with radio broadcast activities. Most Federal research activities concerned with biological effects of nonionizing radiation are monitored by the Office of Telecommunications Policy (OTP), and there is concern that a proposed reorganization which would abolish OTP could result in reduced emphasis on this function. EPA identified uncertainties which need to be overcome in the areas of existing ambient environmental levels, criteria for acceptable levels, and the existence of nonheating effects. If EPA determines environmental nonionizing radiation exposure control is needed, it may need to seek new legislation to set an enforceable standard.

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