The Radiation Control for Health and Safety Act of 1968: History, Accomplishments, and Future
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CitationThe Radiation Control for Health and Safety Act of 1968: History, Accomplishments, and Future (2006 Third Year Paper)
AbstractPrior to 1968, control of radiation-emitting electronic devices was left to state and local governments, whose regulations proved both inconsistent and ineffective. This was highlighted by General Electric's 1967 recall of 90,000 television sets believed to emit dangerous levels of radiation. Congress soon proposed a federal radiation control bill. The hearings revealed the general lack of data on the harms of radiation exposure and the vast amount of unnecessary radiation that Americans were exposed to each year. As enacted on October 18, 1968, the Radiation Control for Health and Safety Act authorized the Food and Drug Administration to set federal radiation standards, to monitor compliance, and to conduct research. The FDA's Bureau of Radiological Health actively administered the act. The act has produced safe electronic products, considerable scientific knowledge, and a public well aware of the risks of radiation exposure. But for all of its successes, the act has also had its problems. The act does not require pre-market approval, choosing instead to respond once problems arise. The FDA has also seen significant budget cuts and must prioritize its obligations under all the acts it administers. The FDA has turned to the internet to communicate its message to manufacturers and consumers, but at the same time must counter the rise of the popular media and its ability to excite the public regarding potential radiation hazards. How the FDA allocates its decreasing funds and works with the mass media will determine the future of the act.
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