Better Late Than Never? FCC to Review Cell Phone Radiation Standards
After procrastinating for almost ten years, the FCC seems prepared to review its outmoded wireless radiation standards. But will industry force the FCC to maintain the status quo or even weaken the inadequate standards?
The FCC’s public comment period was opened almost ten years ago on July 14, 2003. (1) At that time there were 148 million cell phone subscriptions in the U.S. (2)
Now there are 322 million cell phone subscriptions. (2) Today, many children, teenagers, and women use cell phones that are tested using a model of a large male adult’s brain and body. Meanwhile research has shown that a child's brain absorbs 2-3 times more electromagnetic radiation (EMR) than an adult's brain.
Why has the FCC procrastinated in revising these rules and procedures? The standards were developed prior to 1996 by industry groups to protect workers and the general population only from the thermal or heating effects of exposure to EMR.
The standards ignore the health risks posed by nonthermal effects of EMR which have been reported in hundreds of peer-reviewed laboratory studies. Also, we now have evidence from human studies of increased risk of cancers of the brain and salivary gland from long term use of cell phones that comply with these outdated standards. The World Health Organization has classified radiofrequency EMR as "possibly carcinogenic"
We also have evidence of sperm damage from cell phone radiation and increased male infertility among cell phone users and preliminary evidence of reproductive health effects.
Although more research is needed to assess the long term risks to children who use cell phones, Wi-Fi and other wireless devices, the research to date suggests that these risks will exceed those found among adult users. We must not continue to experiment with our children by exposing them to increasing amounts of EMR through wireless technologies. Installing Wi-Fi in schools and on buses and airplanes is likely to increase health risks over the life span.
Last summer the Government Accountability Office issued a report calling on the FCC to review cell phone standards and testing procedures. Although this report made numerous mistakes which have been documented by myself (3) and other experts, it appears to have succeeded in prompting the FCC to close the public comment period and initiate a review.
It is critically important that the public and those with expertise weigh in on the review process because the FCC pre-empted the GAO Report last summer and announced to the media that they either do not plan to change the standards or may even weaken them. (4) The industry has been lobbying the FCC for many years to adopt international standards which are far weaker than the standards adopted by the U.S. and a handful of other nations.
In the comments I filed on the FCC website today, I entered into the public record the contents of my Electromagnetic Radiation Safety web site, http://saferemr.com, which contains commentary, news releases, and media coverage. (5) I also attached my comments on the problems with the GAO Report that were prepared at the request of staff members for Representatives Waxman, Markey, and Eshoo, the three members of Congress who requested this report from the GAO. (3)
The recommendations I made are as follows:
• “In my professional opinion, the FCC should request the EPA to empanel a Working Group composed of health experts who have no conflicts of interest with industry to review the scientific literature on EMR. The Group should recommend biologically-
• “The FCC should not take any actions that may increase exposure of the population to EMR from cell phones, base stations, Wi-Fi, Smart Meters and other RF- or ELF-emitting devices. The FCC must especially protect vulnerable groups in the population including children and teenagers, pregnant women, men of reproductive age, individuals with compromised immune systems, seniors, and workers. “ (5)
For more information on the health effects of electromagnetic radiation exposure from cell phones, Wi-Fi, and Smart Meters, and discussion of health policies to reduce potential harm, see my Electromagnetic Radiation Safety website at http://saferemr.com.
(1) Office of Engineering and Technology, Federal Communications Commission. "FCC Proposes Changes in the Commission's Rules and Procedures Regarding Human Exposure to RadioFrequency Electromagnetic Energy". Proceeding Number: 03-137. July 14, 2003. URL: http://apps.fcc.gov/
(2) CTIA--The Wireless Association. Semi-Annual Mid-Year 2012 Top-Line Survey Results. URL: http://files.ctia.org/
(3) Joel M. Moskowitz. "Comments on the 2012 GAO Report: 'Exposure and Testing Requirements for Mobile Phones Should Be Reassessed'. August 24, 2012. URL: http://saferemr.blogspot.com/
(4) Joel M. Moskowitz. "Does The FCC Plan To Rubber Stamp Outdated Cell Phone Radiation Standards?" PRLog. June 5., 2012. URL: http://www.prlog.org/
(5) Joel M. Moskowitz. Comments filed on "FCC Proposes Changes in the Commission's Rules and Procedures Regarding Human Exposure to RadioFrequency Electromagnetic Energy." FCC 03-137. February 5, 2013. URL: http://bit.ly/