Electromagnetic Fields:

Federal Efforts to Determine Health Effects Are Behind Schedule

RCED-94-115: Published: Jun 21, 1994. Publicly Released: Jul 11, 1994.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the: (1) extent to which federal power lines expose people to electromagnetic fields; (2) actions that state regulators and commercial and federal utilities have taken to mitigate exposure to electromagnetic fields from power lines and the costs of these actions; and (3) status of federal efforts to implement a electromagnetic field research and communication program.

GAO found that: (1) less than 1 percent of the U.S. population is exposed to electromagnetic fields from federally owned power lines; (2) about 85 percent of federal power lines are located in nonmetropolitan areas where the public is unlikely to be exposed to electromagnetic fields; (3) states and utilities have taken limited, inexpensive actions to minimize the public's exposure to electromagnetic fields and future actions will be driven largely by the results of scientific research; (4) the Department of Energy and other agencies have missed milestones specified by the Energy Policy Act of 1992 for implementing a national research program on electromagnetic fields; and (5) many research projects will not begin until fiscal year 1995, reducing the amount of information that can be reported to Congress by the 1997 deadline.

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