US gov't agency to FCC: scrutinize cell phone radiation standards

Talking on cell phone
GAO says raditiation testing is woefully inadequate

The United States government is planning to conduct more in-depth research into the health effects of exposure to radiation from mobile phones, good news for those concerned about the harm - if any - their cell phones might cause them.

U.S. Congressman Dennis Kucinich will lead the charge and hopes to pass new legislation - known as the Cell Phone Right to Know Act - that would fund research into areas like the effects of radio frequency (RF) exposure.

It'd also require manufacturers to place labels letting consumers know how much radiation is caused by their respective phones.

While a Health Protection Agency study from earlier this year concluded that radiation from cellular phones provided "no indication" of risk, it also revealed there were limitations in research that prevented a definitive answer.

Now, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) has joined the campaign, stating it believes current testing methods don't stack up, thus not providing an accurate assessment of actual radiation absorption rates.

With the most recent Federal Communications Commission (FCC) standard for RF exposure limits set in 1996, there's little doubt that perhaps the GAO is right.

GAO's recommends new assessments

The GAO spent more than a year speaking with scientists, health organizations and consumer organizations to compile a 46-page report on testing based on the 1996 standards.

According to the GAO's findings, current tests don't account for phones being directly against the user's body. As the report states, "Some consumers may use mobile phones against the body, which FCC does not currently test, and could result in RF energy exposure higher than the FCC limit."

With their findings, the GAO recommended the FCC reassess "the current RF energy exposure limit, including its effects on human health, the costs and benefits associated with keeping the current limit, and the opinions of relevant health and safety agencies, and change the limit if determined appropriate."

At the same time the GAO was working on its investigation, the FCC arrived at similar findings through its own research, and has apparently already taken the necessary steps to initiate further reevaluations of the current RF safety regulations.

Though not much is likely to change in the coming weeks, over the course of the next few years, we could see a big change in both the way cell phone radiation is monitored and how the U.S. government plans to regulate our exposure to potentially harmful radiation.

Whether that means the FCC will go so far as to require Surgeon General-like warning labels on cell phones remains to be seen, but at least Uncle Sam is being proactive in addressing the health and safety of consumers in the ever-growing cell phone market.

Via Engadget