Top Democrats on the House Energy and Commerce Committee on Tuesday called on the Federal Communications Commission to update its cell phone testing and radiation-emission standards to better reflect the latest research.
Energy and Commerce ranking member Henry Waxman, D-Calif., along with Reps. Anna Eshoo of California, the top Democrat on the Communications and Technology Subcommittee, and Edward Markey, D-Mass., said the FCC needs to update its standards in response to the findings of a new report from the Government Accountability Office. In the report, which was requested by the lawmakers, GAO said the FCC has not revised its "energy limit" for mobile phones since 1996, despite changes to international standards.
"The Federal Communications Commission's [radio frequency] energy exposure limit may not reflect the latest research, and testing requirements may not identify maximum exposure in all possible usage conditions," according to the GAO report.
The FCC told GAO that the commission's standard is based on guidance from federal health and safety agencies, which have not provided updated input. But GAO noted that the FCC has not asked for such guidance and urged the agency to reassess its current standard based on the latest research. In addition, GAO said the FCC's current limit may not adequately reflect how consumers use cell phones today. The report noted that, "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."
Waxman said the GAO's report "shows we need more research on cell phones and their effects on human health. The FCC should coordinate this research with federal health agencies to ensure that the health effects of cell phones are properly understood and appropriate emission standards are set."
The issue gained new attention last year after the World Health Organization warned that excessive use of cell phones could cause cancer.
The GAO report noted that the latest research has not "demonstrated adverse health effects from RF energy exposure from mobile phone use, but the research is not conclusive because findings from some studies have suggested a possible association with certain types of tumors, including cancerous tumors."