A Report on Non-Ionizing Radiation

FCC: Microwave News Article Archive (2004 - )

July 13, 2015

“[I]t is very hard to understand why the FCC allows the use of a [model based on the] head size of the U.S. military recruits for [peak spatial] SAR compliance testing against safety guidelines” (open access). See also our “Children and Cell Phones: Time To Start Making Sense.”

October 3, 2014

“It’s like having a speed limit and no police,” says Marvin Wessel, an RF engineer, about the lack of FCC enforcement. See also our story from last year, “Cell Phone Carriers & the FCC: Cozy and Colluding,” which covers some of the same ground.

August 16, 2014

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention —CDC— is the first U.S. health agency to call for precaution in the use of cell phones.

But not for long. As soon as word of the CDC’s new outlook spread, the precautionary advice was withdrawn. Our original story is below, followed by an August 20 addendum.

“Along with many organizations worldwide, we recommend caution in cell phone use,” the CDC stated on its Web site’s FAQ About Cell Phones and Your Health and followed up with a call for more research to answer the unresolved cancer question.

April 2, 2013

The Federal Communications Commis- sion (FCC) has never levied a fine against a cell phone company for exceeding its RF exposure limits from a base station antenna.

That's not because all of the 300,000 cell sites in the U.S. comply with the FCC rules, according to an Industry Insider with years of training and experience measuring RF radiation. He told us that he has found RF levels higher than those allowed under the FCC rules at sites across the country. The real reason there have been no fines, he said, is "because there's collusion between the companies and the government." The insider, an RF engineer, calls himself "EMF Expert"; he asked that his real name not be used.

"The carriers and the FCC have an extremely cozy relationship," said the engineer. "Whenever there's a problem, someone in the FCC's RF safety office warns the carrier and the company then puts the 'fire' out."

March 29, 2013

Today, the FCC —finally— issued a package of rules and requests for information related to RF health and safety. We say finally because the commission announced that this was on its way last June (see "What's Up at the FCC?"). No one at the FCC is eager to say why it took so long, except that it covers a lot of ground.

The document is indeed long (over 200 pages) and...

August 15, 2012

Times of India, August 15, 2012. The new limits will be 1/10th the current ones. Also, India will adopt an SAR standard for cell phones like that of the U.S. FCC —1.6 W/Kg, averaged over 1 g.

August 7, 2012

In its much-anticipated report, released today, the GAO told the FCC to take a fresh look at its cell phone exposure standard and the way the phones are tested for compliance with that limit. The 46-page report is available here.

Julius Knapp, the chief of the FCC's Office of Engineering and Technology, responded that he and...

June 19, 2012

Bloomberg News caught a lot of people by surprise last Friday morning with a story announcing that the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) would review its rules on radiation exposures from cell phones. As  Bloomberg's Todd Shields pointed out, the move was long overdue: The FCC's current exposure standard was set in 1996.

Just as interesting is a question no one seems to be asking: Why was this in the news?

October 22, 2010

A potentially important decision: "Cell Phone Liability Lawsuits Pre-empted by FCC, 3rd Circuit Rules" in Law.com (item actually dated October 25).

May 15, 2009

There are many reasons not to use a cell phone in an elevator. The most obvious would be as a courtesy to other passengers. Another is that a phone has to work harder in a shielded space. It's forced to operate at higher power levels for the signal to get out and reach the nearest tower and that leads to more ambient radiation in the elevator.

What most cell phone users would never consider is that a fellow passenger absorbs some of the radiation that would otherwise bounce back off the walls. It turns out, according to some new calculations from Japan, that a lone user can get a maximum exposure of about 1.6 W/Kg, 80% of the ICNIRP standard (2 W/Kg). But be advised that exposures could exceed the current U.S. FCC standard by a wide margin, under worst-case conditions. (This is a rare —no, unique— example of an American EMF standard being stricter than those in other countries.) The FCC limit is averaged over only 1g of tissue and, as Jim Lin, a member of ICNIRP, has often pointed out, increasing the averaging volume from 1 g to 10 g could triple the allowable radiation exposure (see MWN, N/D00, p.3). These new findings appear in the May issue of the IEEE Transactions on Microwave Theory and Techniques.

July 13, 2007

When the residents of the Oak Hill Park community in the Boston suburb of Newton fought the expansion of a local 5kW AM station, WNUR, they complained about radiofrequency interference (RFI)—to their telephones, stereos, VCRs, wheelchairs and baby monitors. They also objected to the possible effects on local wildlife, particularly to the blue-spotted salamander. And they worried about the visual blight posed by the towers.

What community activists hardly mentioned were the possible impacts on their health.

May 12, 2004

After testing 25 different models of mobile phones, TCO Development, an arm of the Swedish white-collar union TCO based in Stockholm, is recommending only six of them. Seven of the phones failed to meet TCO's SAR standard of 0.8 W/Kg averaged over 10 g of tissue (see MWN, J/F01, p.6).

TCO Development states that its SAR limit is less strict than the Federal Communications Commission's (FCC) SAR standard for certifying phones for sale in the U.S. (It is not clear how many of these models are available in the U.S. marketplace.) 

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