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wrote that while the popularity of cellphones has soared, federal health and communications regulators are relying on outdated standards to evaluate phone safety.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a professor of electrical engineering at the University of Utah, says that the Federal Communications Commission uses outdated standards to determine safe radiation levels for cellphones.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.
July 21, 2010; 8:00 AM ET
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