FCC proposes updates to cell phone radiation standardsJun 18, 2012 | Parker Waichman LLP
Federal officials are debating a proposal to revisit the issue of radiation emitted by cell phones and the dangers they pose to consumers.
According to a Reuters report, Federal Communications Commission Chairman Julius Genachowski has proposed a formal inquiry into the dangers posed by cell phones to consumers, specifically the amount of radiation they emit. For the formal inquiry to move forward, it must be approved by a majority of the five-person panel of FCC commissioners.
The FCC first set radiation emission standards for cellular devices in 1996, when only a limited number of Americans owned a cell phone. Since then, use of these devices has grown to almost uncontrollable levels and nearly 5 billion phones and other devices are in use today worldwide. This includes phones used by children.
The proposal from Genachowski concerns the testing standards the FCC uses to determine how much radiation is emitted from cell phones and wireless devices and whether current laws are too relaxed or too strict on the amount of radiation emitted from them. And unlike other organizations around the world which believe that radiation from cell phones can lead to health problems like tumor and cancer growth, domestic health and communications officials do not believe there is a connection.
Last year, the World Health Organization ruled that radiation from cell phones is a possible carcinogen and that more research was needed before determining that it is a likely cause of cancer. This opinion joins a growing concern that cell phones and the increasingly frequent use of them are affecting human health, specifically the growth of brain tumors and the development of glioma and meningioma.
Regulators in California have proposed mandating that radiation emission levels from cell phones be clearly labeled on packaging for these products to give consumers more information on the dangers they possibly face from using them. These efforts have largely been blocked by the wireless industry which firmly believes their products do not pose a health risk to the public.
A spokesperson for the FCC told Reuters the proposed review of the agency's standards is likely necessary because American standards "are the most conservative in the world" and they haven't been addressed in more than 15 years.
Since that time, there have been numerous studies conducted on the safety of cell phones and the dangers posed by the radiation they emit through their radiofrequency. This form of radiation is different from the rays emitted from medical imaging tests like X-rays and CT scans but some studies believe these rays can alter brain activity.
Specifically in the FCC proposal is to update the standards regarding children and their exposure to the radiation from cell phones.