Health and Safety:

Status of Federal Efforts to Disclose Cold War Radiation Experiments Involving Humans

T-RCED-95-40: Published: Dec 1, 1994. Publicly Released: Dec 1, 1994.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO discussed federal efforts to locate, analyze, and disclose the details of U.S. government activities that exposed humans to biomedical radiation between 1944 and 1974. GAO noted that: (1) federal agencies and an independent advisory committee have been working to gather information on the government's cold war activities that exposed humans to radiation; (2) although thousands of radioactive experiments have been identified, the extent of Cold War radiation experiments on humans may never be known because of difficulties in locating and analyzing all pertinent documents; (3) federal agencies have used inconsistent definitions for their searches and are finding it difficult to identify persons involved in radiation experiments; (4) the advisory committee may not be able to contact the subjects of radiation experiments or complete its work within the 1-year time frame; (5) the advisory committee has not conducted the ethical and scientific analysis of Cold War experiments called for in its charter; and (6) the advisory committee has expanded the overall scope of its research.

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