The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) will conduct a formal review of the U.S. cell phone radiation standards according to a Bloomberg news report: FCC. Wireless Devices and Health Concerns.
An FCC spokesperson emailed a statement to a Bloomberg reporter that is truly alarming. Her message suggests that the FCC has already decided that the current standards are fine, and will conduct a review to rubber stamp the 1996 FCC guidelines:
“Tammy Sun, a spokeswoman for the agency, said in an e-mailed statement. The notice won’t propose rules, Sun said.
‘Our action today is a routine review of our standards,’ Sun said. ‘We are confident that, as set, the emissions guidelines for devices pose no risks to consumers.'”
The Bloomberg article cites a major review of the literature conducted by our research center in which we found an association between mobile phone use and increased brain tumor risk especially after 10 years of cell phone use:
“There is possible evidence linking mobile-phone use to an increased risk of tumors, according to a study of scientific studies and articles that was published in 2009 in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.”
The research we reviewed and subsequent research strongly suggest that the current standards for cell phone radiation are not adequate to protect us from health risks associated with exposure to cell phone radiation. A year ago, a 31-member group of experts convened by the World Health Organization agreed with our conclusions and classified cell phone radiation a “possible carcinogen.”
The FCC standards were established in 1996 at a time when few adults used cell phones. Today, children and most adults are exposed to far more cell phone radiation than the FCC-approved test models are subjected to when new cell phones are certified. Moreover, the test assumes that cell phones can harm us only by heating tissue. This is not true as there are numerous studies that demonstrate non-thermal effects from cell phone radiation including increased glucose metabolism in the brain, generation of heat shock proteins, free radicals, and double-strand DNA breaks; penetration of the blood-brain barrier, damage to sperm and increased male infertility.
The FCC admits on its web site* that “there is no federally developed national standard for safe levels of exposure to radiofrequency (RF) energy.” “The FCC’s guidelines and rules regarding RF exposure are based upon standards developed by IEEE and NCRP and input from other federal agencies.”
I have grave concerns if the FCC continues to rely on industry-funded expert groups because our research found that industry-funded epidemiologic research was generally of lower quality and biased against finding harmful effects. Dr. Henry Lai at the University of Washington has come to a similar conclusion in his analysis of the toxicology research.
In my opinion, it is premature to adopt new safety standards because we need more research that is independent of the wireless industry’s influence. The Federal government needs to sponsor a major research initiative on the health effects of electromagnetic radiation. Martin Blank and Reba Goodman from Columbia University recently published a paper in the journal, Electromagnetic Biology and Medicine, calling for the development of a biologically-based measure of electromagnetic radiation (abstract below).
In the interim, to protect cell phone users we must adopt and disseminate precautionary health warnings that promote safer cell phone use. Although The FCC web site provides some simple steps to reduce exposure to cell phone radiation, it “does not endorse the need for these practices.” A dozen nations and the city of San Francisco have issued precautionary warnings about cell phone use to its citizens. It is time for our Federal government to do so.Joel M. Moskowitz, Ph.D. Director Center for Family and Community Health The UC Berkeley Prevention Research Center School of Public Health University of California, Berkeley http://cfch.berkeley.edu