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Cell phone safety advocates call on FCC, FDA to update rules, radiation standards

As concerns rise over the potential health risks posed by cellphone radiation, advocates of cell phone safety are urging federal regulators to do more to protect users of wireless gadgets.

In a letter to Federal Communications Commission Chairman Julius Genachowski, the American Association for Cell Phone Safety wrote that while the popularity of cellphones has soared, federal health and communications regulators are relying on outdated standards to evaluate phone safety.

“The FCC is clearly not a health agency and makes no mention of the agency’s qualifications to set health and safety standards with cell phones and wireless PDA’s,” the Santa Monica, Calif.-based group wrote in its letter dated July 11. A similar letter was sent to Food and Drug Administration Commission Margaret Hamburg.

The group asked the FCC to review its role in ensuring that radiation emissions from mobile phones are at safe levels. It also requested that the agency study how it informs the public about the impact of of cellphone radiation on human body tissue.

Of the hundreds of studies done on cell phone safety, most have yielded inconclusive results. A multinational study called Interphone that was published in May said that the heaviest cellphone users could be at greater risk for brain tumors but more research needed to be done.

The letter comes just weeks after San Francisco became the first jurisdiction in the United States to pass an ordinance requiring stores to tell customers how much radiation the cellphones on their shelves emit. Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio) said last month that he plans to introduce legislation to promote federal research on cell phone safety and explore warning labels on phones on radiation levels.

Om Gandhi, a professor of electrical engineering at the University of Utah, says that the Federal Communications Commission uses outdated standards to determine safe radiation levels for cellphones. He says that the FCC’s SAR standards don’t take into account the levels of absorption for children, who tend to absorb more radiation because of their thinner skulls and ears.

A spokesperson for the FCC declined to comment on the letter.

By Cecilia Kang  |  July 21, 2010; 8:00 AM ET
Categories:  FCC  
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The sky is falling! The sky is falling!

Millions upon millions of people around the world use cell phones daily. If this were a public crisis you'd figure it would have surfaced front and center long ago. While there is no doubt *some* effect of 800 or 1900 MHz energy impinging on tissues, it is not ionizing radiation, so the worst thing that can happen is that it heats said tissue. It does not change the composition of atoms in cells. What that heating causes remains an open question.

Meanwhile, concern should be rising over rising rates of cigarette smoking particularly among children, which most certainly DOES cause cancer and other health problems. Which one deserves more attention?

Posted by: BoteMan | July 21, 2010 11:45 AM | Report abuse

Over 4 billion users worldwide as of late 2008 according to 3G Americas. Dr. Ghandi reported problems with the devices in 1996 and exposed the danger to children. A 5 year child has a radiation penetration rate of 75-80% into the brain, a ten year old 50-60% and an adult around 20-30%.Childrens brains contain more water and their skulls are not fully formed. A 2 minute cellphone call can affect a 5 year old child's brain up to an hour after using the cellphone.

Posted by: Weave160 | July 21, 2010 10:34 PM | Report abuse

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