Information on Current Health Risks

RCED-95-205: Published: Jul 19, 1995. Publicly Released: Aug 1, 1995.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO provided information on the current health risks from Superfund sites, focusing on: (1) the extent to which sites may pose health risks under current land uses, as opposed to the risks that may develop if land uses change in the future; and (2) whether the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) short-term response actions to mitigate the health risks from Superfund sites have reduced the risks under current land uses.

GAO found that: (1) 71 of the 225 Superfund sites contained in the EPA data base pose serious health risks that warrant cleanup, given current land uses; (2) 28 percent of the 71 sites pose cancer risks, 30 percent pose risks for noncancer conditions, and the remainder pose risks for both cancer and noncancer conditions; (3) 119 of the 225 sites do not pose serious health risks under current land uses, but these sites may pose future health risks; (4) EPA may clean up the remaining sites, even though they do not pose current or future health risks, in order to comply with various regulations or to mitigate a threat to the environment; (5) EPA has temporarily mitigated immediate health risks at 31 of the 71 sites; and (6) the remaining 40 sites do not warrant removal actions, even though these sites pose longer-term health risks under current land uses.

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