Excerpt from An Electronic Silent Spring
The Rules and Regulations That Frame Us
The existing FCC and international limits do not do enough to protect people, especially children, from daily exposures to electromagnetic fields and radiofrequency radiation. The existing safety limits did not anticipate these new kinds of technologies affecting the health of people living with and using wireless devices on a daily basis. (Biological) effects are now widely reported to occur at exposure levels significantly below most current national and international limits.
–David O. Carpenter, MD, Co-Editor of the BioInitiative Report
Director of the Inst. for Health and the Environment, SUNY/Albany
The purpose of rules and regulations
As people invented wheels, carts, then horse-drawn buggies, they noticed the need for measures that kept travelers and bystanders safe. For examples, to stop a horse pulling a carriage, the driver needs a way to signal the horse to halt, and a breaking system for the buggy’s wheels. Motorized vehicles need windshield wipers, seatbelts, children’s seats and air bags. We paved roads, set speed limits, created intersections with stop signs and stop lights. For the most part, these protective measures kept pace with new vehicles.
A summary of the rules for our electric grid and telecommunications
It’s this simple: our rules and regulations for electricity, electronics, transmitting antennas and wireless devices serve engineering needs. Our laws do not consider these technologies’ impacts on public health or the environment–except, in some cases, to make such consideration a liability.
Briefly, here are our federal regulations around electricity, electronics, transmitters, wireless devices and health:
* No federal agency regulates our 60 Hz electrical grid, including “smart”
* The FCC defines “harmful interference” as anything that interferes with
existing radio, TV or Internet broadcasts. No agency defines “biological
harm” from transformers or broadcasting equipment. No agency has
funding to regulate magnetic fields or RF fields that have the potential to
harm health or wildlife.
* Section 704 of the Telecommunications Act of 1996 states that no health
or environmental concern can interfere with the placement of telecom
* In August, 2013, the FCC reclassified the outer part of the ear as an
extremity, which means that mobile devices near it are allowed a Specific
Absorption Rate (SAR) of 4.0 W/kg, significantly higher than the 1.6
W/kg allowed for non-extremities such as the head and trunk.
* No regulations address the effects of magnetic fields or RFs on special
populations, including pregnant women, children, people with medical
implants or the infirm.
* Environmental Impact Studies (EISs), required by the National
Environmental Policy Administration (NEPA) have not been honored
when installing cellular antennas or other transmitters on or near schools
or in sensitive habits.
Since we began generating and delivering electricity throughout the U.S. in the early 1900s, no federal agency has regulated our electrical grid, including “smart” installations. The FCC regulates non-government devices that operate above 9 kHz and below 300 GHz. The National Telecommunications and Information Agency (NTIA) regulates government equipment. Power lines operate below 9 kHz. Metal detectors (like those at airports) operate above 300 GHz. In other words, no federal agency regulates power lines or metal detectors.
In 1934, Congress authorized the FCC to regulate electronic devices and systems that have the potential to interfere with existing broadcasts. This means that when a manufacturer wants to market a new device, it must prove to the FCC that the new product will not interfere with existing radio, TV or (now) Internet broadcasts. Said another way, the FCC recognizes that some frequencies can harm electronics, and that some devices create “harmful interference” with existing broadcasts. No agency recognizes that magnetic fields or RF fields can cause biological harm.
According to the BioInitiative Report, the FCC’s regulations allow exposure to electromagnetic radiation that is at least one thousand times higher than what the BioInitiative scientists find is safe for public health.1
In 1996, the FCC established an allowable SAR for mobile devices. Again, these regulations are based on engineering needs, and do not consider biological effects.
In 1971, more than a decade after a cardiac pacemaker was first implanted in a person and patients had reported interference between their implants and microwave ovens, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) began requiring microwave oven owners to post a notice that an oven is nearby, since its electromagnetic signals can interfere with a pacemaker’s.
In 1970, the FDA’s Bureau of Radiological Health (now the Center for Devices and Radiological Health) determined that after purchase, a microwave oven’s specific absorption rate (SAR) should not exceed five mW per square centimeter at any point, five centimeters or more from the oven’s external surface.#2 For cell phones, as of August, 2013, the FCC’s SAR limit is 4.0 W/kg for extremities (including the earlobe) within 1 gram of tissue, significantly more than microwave ovens are allowed.
In the U.S., the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) and the National Council for Radiation Protection and Measurements develop recommendations for safety standards that are then regulated by the FCC. Each of these agencies is concerned with engineering, not health. Indeed, in 2003, IEEE’s Eleanor Adair, chair of the International Committee on Electromagnetic Safety, wrote that it is “important that safety standards be rational and avoid excessive safety margins.”#3 (Emphasis added.)
No agency has determined SAR limits for pregnant women, children or people with medical implants. No agency studies the health or behavior of children born to parents who no longer have landlines.
The FDA still has the authority to regulate any device that emits radiation, including color TVs, baby monitors, mobile phones and WiFi; but Congress has not given it the funding to do so. Similarly, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has the authority to regulate man-made electromagnetic radiation in our environment; but in the 1980s, Congress took away all funding for it to do so.
The Telecommunications Act of 1996
In 1996, President Clinton signed the Telecommunications Act (the TCA) into law. As explained earlier, Section 704 of the TCA prohibits municipal and state legislators from refusing to permit installation of telecom equipment based on health or environmental concerns. If the corporation believes that your city councilors took health into account when denying them a permit, then the telecom corporation can sue your city.
If your city council takes too much time to process a telecom corporation’s application to install equipment, then the corporation can sue your city.
According to the TCA, your town can only refuse to permit installation of wireless equipment if it does not like how an antenna looks or if the equipment’s presence or appearance decreases property values.
Telecommunications in court
How have these rules and regulations affected real people and wildlife? How have they played out in court?
In the late ’90s, a telecom company installed cellular antennas on a radio tower near Burlington, Vermont. The antennas’ signals interfered with a nearby veterinarian’s equipment, which monitored animals’ vital signs during surgery. The interference prevented this vet from performing surgery safely. Citizens in her town sued, aiming for the antennas to be mitigated or moved to another location. In 2000, the U.S. Second Circuit judges ruled that if a telecom company has received an FCC license to operate, then nearby residents, organizations and businesses must accept blanket interference. The citizens appealed the case to the U.S. Supreme Court, but the court chose not to take the case. The veterinarian moved her practice.
When the Connecticut Siting Council granted Cellco (Verizon) a permit to install a cell tower near a sensitive bird habitat without first requiring the company to conduct an environmental impact study, citizen Dina Jaeger urged the Council to shift the tower site to avoid harming the area’s migratory birds. The Council rejected her arguments, including scientific studies, on the ground that the Telecom Act of 1996 preempted the Migratory Bird Treaty and barred any agency action. Ms. Jaeger petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court to direct Connecticut and other states to obey international migratory bird treaties designed to protect birds by outlawing the placement of cell towers in flyways, nesting areas and habitats. On June 28, 2011, the Supreme Court announced its refusal to hear the case.
In 2012, a telecom company proposed installing 4G WiMax via a Distributed Antenna System (DAS) on existing utility poles near a sensitive California habitat. To install a new cell tower near a sensitive habitat, a telecom company must first prepare a review of the installation’s environmental impact for the National Environmental Policy Administration (NEPA). This requirement is exempted for installations on existing poles.
While nearby residents oppose installing the DAS, the shot-clock rule, adopted by the FCC in 2009, requires that municipalities must grant or deny permits for telecom antennas within 90 days for co-locations, and 150 days for new equipment. If the municipality does not make a final decision on the company’s request within 90 or 150 days, then installation of the equipment is automatically approved. Because these short time periods do not allow for local requirements like adequate public notice, a public hearing or an appeals procedure, telecom companies can effectively install antennas as they please–without respect for local concerns–including in sensitive habitats.
The City of Arlington, Texas requested that the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit invalidate the shot-clock rule; but the Court of Appeals upheld it. The Supreme Court agreed to hear the case. Los Angeles, San Antonio and several other municipalities joined Arlington’s challenge of the FCC ruling. AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile and the Personal Communications Infrastructure Association-Wireless Infrastructure Association submitted briefs in support of the FCC’s shot-clock rule. In May, 2013, the Supreme Court voted in favor of the FCC ruling and the telecom companies.
In 2010, an electrically sensitive man who is disabled by signals from cellular antennas, filed a suit against the City of Santa Fe, New Mexico and AT&T, claiming that according to the Americans With Disabilities Act (the ADA) and the Fourteenth Amendment, the installation of telecom equipment violates his rights. At AT&T’s request, the case was transferred from a state court to a federal court, where a judge ruled that the Telecommunications Act pre-empts the ADA–even though the ADA was enacted in 1991, and the TCA stated, when it passed in 1996, that all previous Acts of Congress must be obeyed. The federal judge ruled that since a more specifically worded statute (like the TCA) takes precedent over a statute that is more generally worded (like the ADA), the Telecom Act pre-empts the ADA. He outlined that the best recourse for people who are disabled by telecom radiation is to get Congress to revise Section 704 of the TCA. In October, 2012, the Court of Appeals ruled that the case should not have been transferred to federal court and returned it to the New Mexico court. In October, 2013, the electrically sensitive man asked for a writ of mandamus, a court order that would require the City of Santa Fe to enforce its own laws–and require a new, public hearing for any intensification of cell tower emissions. At this writing, the decision awaits.
Many other lawsuits about wireless devices are now making their way through the courts. In June, 2013, the law firms of David Kyle and Paul Overett filed a class action lawsuit against California’s PG&E and SC Edison because of “smart” meters’ health effects (including headaches, loss of energy, ringing in the ears, cancer, heart attacks and medical implant interference). Citizens in Naperville, Illinois and in Maine are also fighting “smart” meters. A case in Portland, Oregon, involves the effects of Wi-Fi on a diabetic child in a public school.
Other challenges to our laws
While nearly every place in the U.S. has become chronically exposed to radiofrequencies from military and police radar, Wi-Fi, mobile devices, cellular antennas, “smart” meters and other transmitters, some citizens have challenged our federal rules and regulations. Here are their stories:
Jo-Tina DiGennaro: I live in Bayville, NY, a small town on Long Island. Starting about 1992, without proper notice to nearby residents, our water tower began to house antennas. By 2009, it had accumulated nearly sixty antennas. Our elementary school’s property line is fifty feet from our water tower. Between 2000 and 2007, four children in our village were diagnosed with leukemia; another child was diagnosed with brain cancer. Three of these five children died. At one point, seven of the school’s twenty-one staff members had some form of cancer. For a small village, this is a very high incidence of childhood leukemia and cancer.
Did the antennas cause this? Did the antennas’ put high frequencies on school’s wiring? Did the equipment that operates the antennas put electrical currents in the water lines?
We don’t know. But we who live near the antennas and who have children and grandchildren at the school are very concerned.
In public and private meetings, our mayor at the time repeatedly stated that the belief that the antennas endanger our children is completely unfounded. After a vote by the town’s trustees (five yes, two no) to install more antennas for police equipment on the water tower, several residents became agitated. When a man (who can hear the antennas buzz from his front step and whose baby was nine months old at the time) began to express his concerns, he was not asked to reserve his comments until later. A police officer escorted him out of the building.
Because we want the path of least regret, many of us in Bayville want the antennas moved. Because of the Telecom Act, we could not speak freely with our town officials or question whether the antennas contribute to our health problems.
Our water tower sits on land that was donated to the town with the condition that the land could never be used for commercial purposes. The deed also states that nothing on this land could be deemed dangerous, offensive or obnoxious to anyone within one mile of the site. Since leasing space on the water tower provides financial gain for the Village of Bayville and for the telecom companies, and since many of us find the telecom equipment on the water tower dangerous, we sued the Village and the telecom companies involved to move the antennas.
A lower court ruled against us. We wanted to pursue the matter to a higher court, but we ran out of money. The five telecom companies involved had money to continue as long as necessary.
Clearly, The 1996 Telecommunications Act protects the telecom corporations. It gives common people no protection.
Meanwhile, I hear more people wanting better reception and wider coverage for their devices than I hear people concerned about the health effects of telecom equipment. Around the country, water towers and other structures are covered with antennas. Radiation levels around these towers can exceed FCC guidelines, which are one thousand times higher than what the BioInitiative Report’s researchers consider safe. So I worry–about people who live near antennas, for children who attend school near them and for workers who maintain water towers.
Deb Carney, attorney: When television and radio towers first went up on Lookout Mountain in Golden, Colorado, many of the area’s residents thought they were ugly. We did not think they could be dangerous. We believed that governmental regulations protected us. After resident scientists, doctors, lawyers and engineers donated thousands of hours to researching antennas’ effects on health, we learned that we were not protected.
We learned that in Ukraine, an agency equivalent to the FCC deals with the technical aspects of transmitting signals. An additional agency serves to protect peoples’ health. In the U.S., we have no such agency.
With funding from the National Institute of Health, scientists from two universities took blood samples from 300 residents. We learned that as our exposure to radiation increased, so did our white blood counts. Even at radiation levels one hundred times less than what the FCC allows, the scientists found biological effects in our blood samples; and every resident near Lookout Mountain with a brain tumor lived in direct line of sight to the TV/FM towers. The scientists published their findings. #4,5 In 1999, the University of Colorado’s Department of Radiation Oncology wrote, “Without proper scientific data, we consider it unconscionable to expose the people of Jefferson County to these levels of radiation.”
For eight years, the Golden area’s citizens effectively prevented a group of television stations from building a new, 730-foot tall tower on Lookout Mountain designed to broadcast digital signals to the entire Denver area. Golden area residents and officials feared that an increase in electromagnetic radiation would harm our health, scar the mountain and create electrical interference in nearby homes and businesses. We collected 3000 signatures from people who did not want a new tower installed.
In 2006, the TV stations hired Wiley Rein & Fielding, a lobbying group that “maintain(s) ongoing professional relationships with the highest Executive Branch officials and key Republican and Democratic members of Congress.”
On Saturday, December 9, 2006 at 2:09 am, a “noncontroversial” bill was “hotlined” through the Senate (and later the House) with no hearing or debate. The bill pre-empts local zoning control over towers on Lookout Mountain. On December 22, President Bush signed the bill into law. If this could happen to Golden, it can happen anywhere.
Jeff Stone: I work in a small city’s planning and land use department. Recently, a telecom company proposed installing an antenna in a church steeple here. The church houses a nursery school. Parents do not want the antenna installed. To keep their church solvent, board members want the income they’ll get from renting the steeple to the telecom company.
As a public servant whose job is to uphold land use codes, my choice is between permitting the antenna and a lawsuit against my city from the telecom company for non-compliance, a lawsuit that they will surely win. Furthermore, my town does not have resources for a court battle.
As I see it, concerned citizens need to educate their neighbors before any telecom company offers to lease space for antennas from a property owner–and to petition Congress to revise Section 704 of The Telecom Act so that every community can determine its own setback policies for antennas.
Gary Olhoeft, PhD, geophysicist and electrical engineer, professor emeritus, Colorado School of Mines: Despite the fact that ten percent of Americans (more than twenty-five million people) have a medical implant, no agency studies their experience around wireless devices. Many of these people may find their implant malfunctioning (including shutting off) if they board an airplane, share an elevator with a mobile phone user, or step through a security door at a library or a mall. No agency studies the interference that may occur between devices when a cochlear implant is installed in a person who already has a deep brain stimulator and a pacemaker.
We need to broaden public awareness about the vulnerability of people with medical implants. We also need regulation that will limit electromagnetic emissions. We need to create limits around “second-hand” exposure to electromagnetic radiation since, for example, being in a metal-walled elevator with a person who is using a mobile phone can be especially hazardous for people with implants. At a minimum, stores and other places with security and Wi-Fi devices (now often not visible but hidden behind walls) should post warnings that a potential hazard exists for people with implanted medical devices and Radiofrequency Sickness.
Such warnings could be modeled after those the FDA began requiring of microwave oven manufacturers in the 1970s. They alerted people with cardiac pacemakers that the oven could leak radiation and create a potential hazard. The FDA still regulates microwave ovens, and most of them leak less radiation than most cell phones. All mobile phones are currently allowed to leak higher SARs than microwave ovens.
Professor Olhoeft speaks about “Electromagnetic Interference and Medical Implants” at www.youtube/com/results?search_query=olhoeft
Sandra Chianfoni, www.sandaura.wordpress.com, Massachusetts: In 1999, I bought a house in a rural town of 900 people. Since the Fall of 2006, my family and I have heard a constant, disturbing noise in every room. Outside, we cannot hear birds or the wind without this buzz. I’ve tried expensive headphones and earplugs, but the noise penetrates them. To sleep, we keep fans on, which helps to mask the noise. Often, I turn on the radio–or the buzz will envelop me. To read on a winter day, I sit with a fan near my head. I cannot find silence. My family and I have not had proper sleep in seven years.
After a year of thinking something was wrong with our house, we hired a power quality engineer. On our wires, he found a constant harmonic distortion of 60 Hz AC power–double the harmonics allowed by the IEEE. We then retained a certified forensic audio engineer, who analyzed recordings taken at my home, four miles away, and during a power outage throughout our town. This engineer determined that the constant noise measures at 217 Hz in the 250 Hz narrow octave band. It’s a “pure tone frequency,” a bioactive, noxious, toxic pollutant. As part of the “smart” grid, utility companies use this frequency to communicate data, even during power outages.
Are these the source of the buzz I hear?
In 1972, the EPA set exposure limits on pure tones to protect workers from their negative health effects. Based on these regulations, which the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) adopted in 1990, I filed complaints with DEP, the state’s public utility regulatory agency, and the Department of Public Health, since the pure tone levels at my house are illegal, since I cannot sleep properly, and since the power surging from the “smart” grid causes high levels of electrical pollution on my electrical system.
The Massachusetts DEP recognizes that extremely low frequencies (ELFs)–such as those transmitted by the pure tone–affect health, but it did not take action with my complaint. The regulatory agency wanted me to tell them the source of the noise. They would not involve the FCC or interview the engineers I’d hired. Instead, they closed my case.
The case needs to re-open for the whole country. Our electrical grid now serves as a continuous antenna. Wherever the global “smart” grid is turned on, it delivers noxious pure tones into private and public spaces. Wind turbines also emit disturbing noise. Routinely now, I hear from people all over the world who have become agitated, unable to sleep, afraid to buy a home (where the pure tone might become audible), and even suicidal because of this buzz. It makes no sense for individuals to fight it. Until regulatory agencies implement protections, we will all be subject to a festering noise.
Josh Hart, MSc., StopSmartMeters.org, California: The “smart” transmitting meters that utility companies have installed around the country pose numerous, significant dangers. Traditional analog meters had no electronic components, but digital transmitting “smart” meters run on switch-mode power supplies. They pulse microwaves that travel into homes, schools, hospitals and office buildings that use electricity.
Supposedly, “smart” meters are designed to help us save energy. However, after Pacific Gas & Electric (one of the U.S.’s largest utilities) spent billions of ratepayer dollars to install networked meters and data storage facilities, the company’s 2010 Program Year Demand Response and Energy Conservation Annual Report revealed zero energy saved.
StopSmartMeters.org has received over one thousand reports from people with rashes, headaches, nausea, dizziness, ringing in the ears, insomnia, bloody noses, heat sensations and much more after a transmitting meter was installed on their home. The California Public Utilities Commission has received more than ten thousand complaints.
Around the world, fires started by “smart” meters are reported nearly every day. EmfSafetyNetwork.org tracks these fires and explosions. People have died as a result of some fires; others have become homeless. Are the fires caused by shoddy installation? By installation on a house whose wiring is not compatible with the meter? We need independent investigations to answer these questions. Meanwhile, insurance companies will not insure against installations of transmitting meters since the socket onto which a meter is attached is considered the property owner’s property.
“Smart” meters infringe on peoples’ privacy. They reveal daily schedules by providing fine-grain data about customers’ use of electricity, gas and water. The information can identify a ratepayer’s daily habits. In California and other states, the data is being sold to third parties without ratepayers’ consent.
In response to campaigns to prevent the installation of more transmitting meters, the industry created “opt-out” programs, which often charge consumers to keep or restore analog meters. We do not support opt-outs: if a meter is dangerous, and evidence shows that these digital, transmitting meters are indeed dangerous, then no one should be exposed to them. Opt-outs discriminate against people with limited income; and anyone with multiple meters in their neighborhood has to contend with meters’ emissions whether or not they pay for an opt-out.
No law states that everyone must have a transmitting meter on their property. People have a right to reject something dangerous, to refuse radiation-emitting, surveillance devices on our homes and schools.
With our current structure, investor-owned utilities take money from ratepayers and distribute profits to shareholders. This presents a crisis and an opportunity for people who need safe delivery of electricity, gas and water. Digital meters must be recalled. We need to make safety, health and quality of life our priorities–and to find real ways to cut our carbon emissions, household by household, community by community.
The federal record on health and RF field exposure, 1995 – 2013
While common citizens have fought to protect their homes, schools and neighborhoods from EMR, the Electromagnetic Radiation Policy Institute (EMRPI) emrpolicy.org, has commented to agencies including the Department of Justice (DOJ), FCC, FDA, Government Accountability Office (GAO), National Academies of Science (NAS), National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) and the National Telecommunications Information Agency (NTIA) about the health effects of radiofrequencies. It has challenged cases in the US Circuit Courts of Appeals and to the US Supreme Court. (emrpolicy.org/litigation/case_law/index.htm)
In response to EMRPI’s challenges, the FCC has repeatedly told Congress and the federal courts that it does not have expertise in RF field exposure health issues. Here is the federal record on health policy and RF field exposure, compiled by EMRPI President Janet Newton:
1995 The US Congress’ Office of Technology Assessment issued a report, “Wireless Technologies and the National Information Infrastructure,” which states, “…unintended effects of radio waves” that involve “compatibility problems…can, for the most part, be solved either by shielding devices, keeping radio waves away from people and sensitive equipment, or changing the modulation scheme emitting devices used. However, with widespread deployment of small radio devices with complex operating characteristics, it is possible that at some point there will be interference leading to a system failure. Because of the large number of devices, the variety of ways they are used, and the complexity of the possible interactions, it is unlikely that every combination can be tested and potential problems anticipated.”
1999 In 1997, the FCC adopted exposure level standards set by the RF Exposure Standards Setting Subcommittee of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE). In 1999, the federal Radiofrequency Interagency Work Group (RFIAWG) identified fourteen flaws in the IEEE standards. These include that the standards:
* were not based on any studies of RF field exposure to humans.
* were not based on any studies of exposure to modulated RF emissions.
* did not consider whether or how bodily tissues–i.e. the brain, bone
marrow, heart, skin, etc.–are affected differently by exposure to RF fields.
* did not consider chronic, repeated or long-term exposure to low-intensity
RF radiation. They addressed only a six-minute (cell phone) exposure at
* did not consider high-quality published studies about health impacts.
* excluded research on long-term, low-level exposures; neurological and
behavioral effects; and micronuclei assay studies relevant to cancer.
Despite RFIAWG’s letter, Congress, the FCC, the FDA nor the IEEE have addressed these flaws.
1999 The FDA nominated RF radiation as a research topic of the National Toxicology Program (NTP). The FDA stated, “It is not scientifically possible to guarantee that those non-thermal levels of microwave radiation, which do not cause deleterious effects for relatively short exposure, will not cause long-term adverse health effects.”
Fifteen years later, in 2014, the NTP study is “in progress.” It only addresses exposure to cell phones–not to cellular antennas, Wi-Fi or “smart” meters.
2001 In Report 01-545 (gao.gov/new.items/d01545.pdf), the GAO criticized the FCC statement, “Cell Phones Cause Medical Problems is Fiction.” The GAO Report concluded that “it will likely be many more years before a definitive conclusion can be reached on whether mobile phone emissions pose any risk to human health.”
Responding to the GAO’s criticism, the FCC’s Office of Engineering and Technology agreed that their “characterization could be misleading, because it implies that the health issue is settled.”
2003 RFIAWG identified three more flaws in the IEEE’s proposed changes to its cell phone safety standard. The IEEE proposal:
* classified the pinna of the ear as an extremity, the same as feet, ankles and
hands, allowing the outer ear more radiation exposure.
* relaxed RF field exposure standards without giving rationale for doing so.
* ignored differences in exposed tissue types, without explanation.
RFIAWG received no response about these points.
2005 NTP stated why the FDA-nominated RF radiation human exposure study is necessary: “Current data are insufficient to draw definitive conclusions concerning the adequacy of these guidelines to be protective against any non-thermal effects of chronic exposures. Most scientific organizations that have reviewed the results from laboratory studies conducted to-date, however, have concluded that they are not sufficient to estimate potential human health cancer risks from low-level RFR exposures and long-term, multi-dose animal studies are needed.”
2007-2008 At the request of the FDA and the Cellular Telephone and Internet Association (CTIA), the National Academies of Science (NAS) held a workshop to identify research needs on RF radiation exposure in preparation for publishing a report on its findings. The NAS Report stated that the research basis of the FCC’s RF radiation safety policy does not consider a number of factors needed to protect the public’s health (nap.edu/catalog.php?record_id=12036), including:
* differences in short-term v. long-term exposure.
* exposure to pulsed RF radiation.
* multilateral exposures.
* multiple frequency exposures.
* non-thermal effects.
* differences in risk to children, pregnant women, the elderly, the infirm and
people with medical implants.
* whether RF radiation exposure alters the biological effects of other
chemical or physical agents.
Both RFIAWG and the NAS panel findings delineated deficiencies in the FCC’s RF exposure regulations research record. The record is inadequate to establish credible safety policy for today’s environment, where everyone is ubiquitously exposed to radiation.
2009 At the FDA’s request, BioInitiative Report co-editors Cindy Sage, M.A. and David O. Carpenter, MD, MPH provided a private briefing about the non-thermal effects of RF radiation.
In response, the FDA has taken no action to evaluate or address the BioInitiative Report’s studies and analysis.
2012 The GAO issued Report GAO-12-771, Telecommunications: Exposure and Testing Requirements for Mobile Phones Should Be Reassessed. It stated, “FCC should formally reassess and, if appropriate, change its current RF energy exposure limit and mobile phone testing requirements related to likely usage configurations, particularly when phones are held against the body. FCC noted that a draft document currently under consideration by FCC has the potential to address GAO’s recommendations.”
2013 While the government’s job to protect the public regardless the burden to industry, the FCC 13-39’s First Report and Order, issued in March, 2013, stated that the Commission intends to “adequately protect the public without imposing an undue burden on industry.”
On June 4, the FCC posted to the Federal Register a Notice of Inquiry (NOI) “to determine whether there is a need for reassessment of the Commission radiofrequency (RF) exposure limits and policies. The NOI acknowledges the research that has occurred in recent years and the changing nature of RF devices and their uses, and focuses on the propriety of the Commission’s existing standards and policies, including its fundamental exposure guidelines and aspects of its equipment authorization process and policies as they relate to RF exposure in light of these changes since its rules were adopted.”
Janet Newton, President of EMRPI: Indeed, it is high time for the FCC to reassess its RF exposure limits and policies and “acknowledge the research that has occurred in recent years and the changing nature of RF devices and their uses.” The research underlying current FCC RF policies was published before 1987. Statements from NAS, RFIAWG, FDA and NTP clearly show that to date, the question of adverse health effects from long-term exposure to low-intensity RF radiation to all subgroups of the American public has not been answered in the research record that underlies the FCC’s RF field safety regulations. Its guidelines are based on incomplete research.
When industry representatives say, “We follow FCC standards,” they bend the truth, because the FCC operates by guidelines, which are not as certain as standards. (Standards are based on research of exposure to humans; guidelines are based on non-human studies.) When they say, “You have nothing to worry about,” we can ask them about the scientific basis of their guidelines. (See epidemiologist De-Kun Li, MD’s clear explanation of the flaws in FCC standards in this book’s appendix.)
Legal possibilities that respect public health and our ecosystem:
An amendment to Section 704 of the Telecommunications Act
Whitney North Seymour, Jr., who served as the U.S. Attorney for New York, a New York State Senator and co-founded the Natural Resource Defense Council, has drafted an amendment to the Telecommunications Act’s Section 704 (presented in Chapter 2). Mr. Seymour’s amendment states: “Section 704 (47 U.S.C. s 332(c) (7) (B) (iv)) is hereby amended as follows: Nothing contained herein shall prevent a state or local government or instrumentality thereof from adopting a reasonable precautionary setback policy regulating the placement of such facilities in close proximity to schools, playgrounds, daycare facilities, residential communities, health care facilities or similar areas or facilities.”
Mr. Seymour’s amendment would restore local governments’ ability to make zoning decisions that protect their citizens’ general welfare around telecom equipment. No new costs would be incurred with this amendment, nor would the industry be subject to lawsuits from equipment previously placed. The EMR Policy Institute seeks co-sponsors for the amendment.
The Cell Phone Right to Know Act
Congress could also pass legislation that would require informed labeling for mobile devices. In 2012, then-Representative Dennis Kucinich introduced the Cell Phone Right to Know Act (HR 6358), which would require that the EPA (not the FCC) set safety standards for mobile devices; that the EPA base these standards on biological needs and revise them every two years. Kucinich’s bill also provided funding for research on the health and environmental effects of radiation from wireless devices. In December, 2012, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) endorsed the Cell Phone Right to Know Act. (See the AAP’s endorsement in the Appendix.)
While Congress did not pass the Cell Phone Right to Know Act in 2012, current representatives can re-introduce it. (Phone your Congresspeople and urge them to sponsor and support 2012 HR6358.)
Expand the definition of harmful interference
In June, 2013, when the FCC announced their new emission standards (which increase a mobile device’s allowable specific absorption rate–SAR–by reclassifying the outer ear as an extremity), it also acknowledged that its definition of “harmful interference” applies only to communications broadcasts, and does not include biological harm.#6
Indeed, our regulations need to include health.
In response to the FCC’s 2013 Notice of Inquiry, the EMR Policy Institute proposed the following definition for biological harm: Harmful interference includes acute, chronic or prolonged exposure to EMFs or RFs that endangers, degrades, obstructs or repeatedly interrupts biological functioning of a person, plant, animal or ecosystem and results in adverse health effects or malfunctioning of a medical device.
See EMRPI’s full definition of biological harmful interference in the Solutions chapter. To see EMRPI’s full Comment to the FCC, go to EMRPolicy.org.
Janet Newton, President of EMRPI: Many people wonder how society would function if regulatory agencies recognized the biological effects of radiofrequencies, and we drastically reduced our use of mobile devices and services. I expect we would function like people did before wireless devices. We would re-learn sitting down at cabled connections to make phone calls and send emails. We would return to richer human interaction.
When Plessy v. Ferguson was overturned, in 1954, in Brown v. Board of Education, no one knew how we would survive without “separate but equal” bathrooms and schools for differently-colored people. Well, we did survive. We did evolve. And now it’s time to revise telecommunications laws that do not serve the public health or our ecosystem.
. See www.BioInitiative.org, which recommends keeping exposure levels below 1000 u μW/m2, and the Seletun Statement, which recommends keeping exposure levels below 1700 μW/m2. FCC exposure limit levels for cell phone radiation are six to ten million μW/m2.
. Osepchuk, JM and RC Petersen, 2003, “Historical Review of RF Exposure Standards and the International Committee on Electromagnetic Safety (ICES),” Bioelectromagnetic Supplement, 6:S7-16.
. Burch, JB, Clark et al, “Radiofrequency nonionizing radiation in a community exposed to radio and television broadcasting,” Environ Health Perspect, Feb, 2006; 114(2):248-53.
. Reif, John S., Burch, et al, “Human Responses to Residential RF Exposure,” Env. Health Persp. 8.23.05.
. commlawblog.com/2009/01/articles/broadcast/finding-the-harm-in-harmful-interference/ posted by Mitchell Lazarus.