FCC may open review of cell phone radiation effects

FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski wants the commission to open an inquiry into whether its cell phone radiation emission standards need to be changed amid concerns that mobile phone radiation may cause brain cancer.

Genachowski has circulated an order to the agency's other four commissioners on whether to open an inquiry, but no new rules are being planned at this time. "Our action today is a routine review of our standards," FCC spokeswoman Tammy Sun said in a statement, according to Bloomberg. "We are confident that, as set, the emissions guidelines for devices pose no risks to consumers."

The action could lead to an inquiry on whether emission standards should be higher or whether there should be different standards for devices used by children. The FCC has been criticized in the past for not looking more deeply into the issue.

The CTIA has long maintained that cell phone radiation does not cause cancer or other adverse health effects. Studies on the issue have been inconclusive, and the National Cancer Institute, which is part of the National Institutes of Health, has said there is no consistent evidence that radiation from cell phones increases the likelihood of cancer.

In May 2011, the World Health Organization said electromagnetic radiation from mobile phones is "possibly carcinogenic to humans, based on an increased risk for glioma, a malignant type of brain cancer, associated with wireless phone use."

The report was issued by the International Agency for Research on Cancer, which conducts cancer research for the WHO, a United Nations organization. The IARC classified radiation from mobile phones in the category 2b, meaning that it is possibly carcinogenic to humans. Other substances in the same category include the pesticide DDT, lead and gasoline exhaust. Importantly, the IARC working group, which included 31 scientists from 14 countries, did not conduct new research but reviewed available scientific literature on the topic.

For more:
- see this WSJ article (sub. req.)
- see this Reuters article
- see this Bloomberg article
- see this The Hill article

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