Lyndon B. Johnson photo

Remarks Upon Signing the Radiation Control for Health and Safety Act of 1968

October 18, 1968

Ladies and gentlemen:

I was looking at a note last night in my night reading from one of my aides. He had outlined all the rights that have been secured for the American people in legislation passed by the Congress during the last 5 years.

He had listed more than 25 of those rights and they ranged from the right to a good education to the right of any citizen to eat where he pleases and to live where he can afford to.

One of the most basic, though, of these newly won rights is the right of every consumer to all the protection his government can give him in the marketplace.

I have signed 19 consumer measures since I have been President. And today, we have come here to the Cabinet Room to add one more law to that list of 19, which will make it number 20--and incidentally, it will be the last one that I sign as President--the last consumer measure. We have a lot more measures that we are examining.

So I hope that if my signature is a little bolder on this one you will pardon me, for it caps a drive that began 3 months after I entered the Presidency; a drive to make our highways and our cars safer, to protect our children against hazardous toys and flammable fabrics, to assure every housewife the purity of the meat and the poultry that she puts on her family's table. And, of course, we cannot forget truth-in-lending, and truth-in-packaging, and measures of that kind.

This bill which becomes law today, we call the hazardous radiation act.

Early man discovered that fire, while warming his body, could also burn him. Modern man has found that radiation can cure diseases or kill him. It can treat cancer. But it can also cause cancer. It can heat. But it can also burn. It can light. But it can also blind.

These radiation hazards confront all of us daily--in our kitchens and in our living rooms, in our dentists' chairs and even in our doctors' offices.

In many ways, they are the most insidious of all our hazards. They are silent and yet they are invisible. Their effects may be immediate, or they might not show up for generations. And we do not even know what some of those long-range effects might be.

So these were the concerns that led me to suggest this measure to the Congress earlier this year.

I said that the Government should be setting health and safety standards to try to control these dangers and minimize them.

I said that our scientists should be conducting research to tell us more about these hazards and how to prevent them.

And so that is what it is all about and that is what we are setting out to do under this consumer law--number 20. We are going to try to make it benefit every American--not just the poor or the suburban family, not antibusiness--even the manufacturer's wife shops in a supermarket and she watches television and she drives her children to school.

But this is protection for all Americans. Yes, number 20, consumer protection for Americans--all 200 million of us Americans.

I think that we owe our thanks to the men in the Congress, Secretary Cohen, our own Betty Furness, and many others for helping to make this measure a reality.

It gives me great pleasure to see it come today.

Note: The President spoke at 12:14 p.m. in the Cabinet Room at the White House. In closing he referred to Wilbur J. Cohen, Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare, and to Betty Furness, Special Assistant to the President for Consumer Affairs.

As enacted, the bill (H.R. 10790) is Public Law 90-602 (82 Stat. 1173).

Lyndon B. Johnson, Remarks Upon Signing the Radiation Control for Health and Safety Act of 1968 Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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