A Report on Non-Ionizing Radiation

IEEE & Telecoms Seek To Loosen Cell Phone SARs

1 g vs. 10 g Averaging Volume

January 14, 2005

As the aftershocks from the Stewart report continue to reverberate, the telecom industry is brazenly moving forward with its plan for a major relaxation of the US limit for radiation exposures from cell phones. Yesterday and today, some members of the IEEE International Committee on Electromagnetic Safety (ICES) are meeting to hammer out their revision of the IEEE RF safety standard (known as C95.1).

One of the major planned changes is to replace the current SAR limit of 1.6 W/Kg, averaged over 1 g of tissue, with a standard of 2.0 W/Kg, averaged over 10 g. James Lin of the University of Illinois, Chicago, who was recently appointed a member of ICNIRP, has called this proposal to increase the averaging volume from 1 g to 10 g “scientifically indefensible” (see MWN, J/A00, p.8, and N/D00, p.3). According to Lin, a limit of 2.0 W/Kg averaged over 10 g would be approximately equivalent to an SAR of 4-6 W/Kg, averaged over 1g (see MWN, S/O01, p.10, and M/J03, p.4).

Or to put it more simply, ICES wants to triple the amount of radiation you could get from a cell phone. Exactly who was invited to this “editorial” meeting is not clear. (ICES’ procedures are not what you might call transparent. Over the years, we have repeatedly asked to be advised of future meetings. But soon after we make it onto the mailing list, our name is somehow deleted. No one can explain why this keeps happening.)

We do know, however, where the ICES meeting is taking place: on the Motorola campus in Plantation, Florida. What remains to be seen is whether the FCC will bow to industry pressure and gut the cell phone standard. Anyone want to bet that the commission will stand its ground?