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FCC Re-examining Potential Standards for Radiation from Cell Phones

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) announced Friday that the agency is reassessing the potential effects of radiation exposure from cellphones and other wireless devices. 

The FCC inquiry will focus on how radio frequencies emitted by cellphones and other wireless devices affect humans, and how much radiation is emitted by the devices.

The evaluation was opened in response to continuing concerns over cell phone radiation exposure, which have circulated over the last few decades.

The last review of radio frequencies radiation was conducted in 1996, many years before cell phones came into such frequent and vast public use.

The FCC indicates that there is no reason to believe the currents standards are inadequate or need to be revised, instead, they are merely conducting a routine review.

Standards Based on Decades-Old Research

The current radiation exposure limits are based on research conducted on animals in the 1980s.  It is determined based on how much heat is emitted by the cell phone and absorbed into the human body and brain. Concerns, for many, remain that the radiation exposure may cause cancer or other serious health concerns.

The inquiry will focus on radio frequency exposure limits and policies and will solicit comments from health experts and other agencies. The goal will be to determine whether to update the guidelines, especially concerning exposure to children. However, the FCC said it may not change the standards at all depending on what the inquiry reveals, and are not currently advocating for stricter warnings.

Scientists cannot conclusively determine radiation emitted by cell phones pose a threat to the human body or cause cancer. The World Health Organization Agency for Research on Cancer reviewed multiple studies in 2011 and listed cell phones as a possible carcinogen.  Cell phones are listed in the same category of carcinogen as lead, gasoline engines exhaust and chloroform.

Hundreds of Millions of Mobile Devices in Use in U.S.

With the number of mobile devices owned by Americans reaching hundreds of millions, many agree that a review of the radiation guidelines is long overdue. The National Cancer Institute, a part of the National Institutes of Health, acknowledges a lack of scientific evidence concerning the link between mobile phone radiation and cancer, but many organizations are still wary.

The announcement of the inquiry comes nine months after the FCC’s Chairman, Julius Genachowski, initially circulated a notice last June calling for a reassessment of the exposure limits.

In spite of the FCC’s confidence concerning the safety of cell phone radiation, the agency recommends using a speakerphone or earpiece when talking. The recommendation is to help decrease the amount of radiation exposure by increasing the distance of the device from the body.

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