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FCC may open cell phone radiation inquiry

Mon, 06/18/2012 - 2:54pm
Maisie Ramsay, Wireless Week

The FCC is considering opening an investigation into cell phone radiation standards, a controversial issue that has yet to find consensus within the scientific community.

Agency Chairman Julius Genachowski circulated a draft inquiry into the issue on Friday, an FCC spokesman confirmed. The document will not be made public until it is voted on by the FCC's four commissioners, but it is expected to include questions about radiation levels in wireless devices used by children.

"We are confident that, as set, the emissions guidelines for devices pose no risks to consumers," FCC spokeswoman Tammy Sun said. "Our action today is a routine review of our standards."

If the review goes forward, it would be the first major inquiry into cell phone radiation emissions standards since it adopted its current regulations in 1996.

The timing of the proposed inquiry coincides with a pending report from the Government Accountability Office that will examine the FCC's "inaction" on radiation standards, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Some health groups have long raised alarms about the potential dangers of radiation from cell phones and other wireless devices, though studies on the issue have been both contradictory and inconclusive. The wireless industry has dismissed the concerns, arguing that government limits on the amount of radiation emitted from cell phones, also called the specific absorption rate, are sufficient to protect consumers.

The issue was the subject of a lawsuit between CTIA and the city of San Francisco. The wireless trade association sued to block a San Francisco law that required wireless retailers to identify cell phone radiation as a "possible carcinogen." The city was later ordered to tone down its warnings after a judge found them to be "misleading" and “alarmist.”

As for the latest development, CTIA public affairs executive John Walls told The Wall Street Journal, "We fully expect that the FCC's review will confirm, as it has in the past, that the scientific evidence establishes no reason for concern about the safety of cell phones."

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