Observers expect report to draw spotlight on cell phone radiation safety

Date Posted
Caleb Kimpel

A report is expected this week from the Government Accountability Office that will point to the possible need to update out-of-date standards on cellphone safety established by the Federal Communications Commission.

The FCC, which regulates wire and radio communications, has not changed radiation-limit rules in 15 years, but may be prompted to review their standards more closely after the GAO report is published.

The Commission announced in June that it was considering an update to the rules on cell phone radiation exposure.

“Our action . . . is a routine review of our standards,” FCC spokeswoman Tammy Sun said in a statement. “We are confident that, as set, the emissions guidelines for devices pose no risks to consumers.”

While the GAO report does not aim to establish how hazardous cell phone use might be, three Democratic lawmakers (Reps. Dennis Kucinich, D-Ohio; Chellie Pingree, D-Maine; and Grace Napolitano, D-Calif.) have already introduced a  bill in Congress calling for an examination of the health effects of cell phone use and requiring manufacturers to provide a warning label to spell out how much radiation a body may be subject to as a result of cell phone use.

“Consumers have a right to know the radiation levels of cell phones and whether they are buying the phone with the lowest — or the highest — level of exposure to cell phone radiation,” Kucinich said in a statement. “They also deserve to have up-to-date exposure standards that are put together by health professionals without conflicts of interest.”

While research into the long-term health effects of the non-ionizing radiation emitted by cell phones remains inconclusive, in light of recent research, the World Health Organization conducted a review of the scientific literature and classified radiofrequency electromagnetic waves, like those emitted from cell phones, as a possible human carcinogen.

Electronics manufacturers warn users that their exposure may exceed FCC guidelines if positioned too close to the body.

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