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FCC To Review Cell Phone Radiation Rules

(202) 667-6982
For Immediate Release: 
Friday, June 15, 2012

Washington, D.C. -- After years of neglecting to update its scientific statements on cell phone radiation, the Federal Communications Commission, in an about-face, launched a review of its safety standards.

The Environmental Working Group has been calling for this basic step to ensure adequate public health protection since 2009. The rules now in force for cell phone radiation were developed in 1996, based on research from the 1980’s. New research has rendered those studies obsolete.

“The FCC has been wearing a blindfold for more than a decade, pretending that while cell phones were revolutionizing how we communicate, the agency didn't have to take a hard look at what this meant for its so-called safety standards,” said Renee Sharp, director of Environmental Working Group’s California office and senior scientist. “This review is long overdue. It is impossible to imagine how the FCC will be able to retain its current standards, which allow 20 times more radiation to reach the head than the body as a whole, do not account for risks to children’s developing brains and smaller bodies and consider only short-term cell phone use, not frequent calling patterns over decades.”

In May of last year, the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer classified cell phone radiation as “possibly carcinogenic to humans,” based on an increased risk for glioma, a malignant type of brain cancer associated with wireless phone use.

The WHO joins other scientific research bodies in raising concerns about the radiation from the devices, which have also been linked to sperm damage and other health effects.

In addition to calling for updated standards, EWG has lobbied for greater transparency in cell phone radiation exposure to consumers, supported right-to-know initiatives and recommended simple steps cell phone users can take to decrease their individual exposure, such as using a headset and texting rather than talking.

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