Public Release: 

Radiation 'hazards' found at U.S. Capitol, Library of Congress buildings

Radiation levels up to 65 times higher than U.S. Environmental Protection Agency safety standards were measured at the U.S. Capitol building and Library of Congress, reports a new study published by

The researchers measured gamma radiation dose rates in a Capitol building hallway and outside the Thomas Jefferson Building as high as 30 microrems per hour. Highly exposed individuals could receive anywhere from 60 millirems to 260 millirems of gamma radiation per year depending on the exposure scenario.

Gamma radiation is the same kind of radiation as from nuclear weapons blasts and medical x-rays. Such "ionizing" radiation is believed by the EPA to cause a variety of health effects including cancer, mutations of reproductive cells, and birth defects.

The measured radiation dose rate is: (1) up to 550 percent higher than the dose rate from a nuclear power plant; (2) about 13,000 times higher than the average annual radiation dose from worldwide nuclear energy production; and (3)about 13,000 times higher than ongoing worldwide radiation exposures from the Chernobyl accident, according to the United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation (UNSCEAR).

"Radiation dose rates inside the Capitol building and outside the Library of Congress may increase cancer risk by 0.5 percent among maximally-exposed individuals, according to EPA risk assessment practices that use the so-called "linear, non-threshold dose-response" model (LNT)," reported researcher Dr. Michael Gough.

"There is no 'safe' level of exposure to radiation, according to the LNT theory. The EPA has specifically declined to establish a safe level of exposure to radiation, added Gough.

"These radiation dose rates are much higher than the EPA proposed to allow at the planned high-level nuclear waste repository at Yucca Mountain, Nevada," said researcher Steven Milloy. The standards are currently under review by the White House Office of Management and Budget.

Senator Harry Reid (D-Nev) reiterated his support for the stringent EPA radiation protection standards for Yucca Mountain during the recent confirmation hearings for EPA administrator Christine Todd Whitman.


An embargoed copy of the study is available from Steven Milloy (301-258-9320 or

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