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24 February 2021

Why I'm challenging the FCC about antiquated safety standards for wireless devices

Why I'm challenging the FCC about antiquated safety standards for wireless devices
By Devra Davis, Opinion, Washington Times, February 23, 2021


FCC's broadband by Alexander Hunter
for The Washington Times

Would you let your family fly in a plane or ride in a bus that meets 25-year-old safety standards? Yet, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) assures us that wireless devices that meet last-century standards can safely be used by infants, toddlers and the rest of us.

During a fascinating hearing before the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals on Jan. 25, the FCC maintained that 1996 standards can safely apply to testing devices many of which did not exist when those standards were first established.

The FCC readily concedes it is not a health agency. For health advice, it relies on the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). In 1999, the FDA asked the National Toxicology Program (NTP), the government’s flagship testing program, to use standard animal testing protocols routinely used for extrapolation to humans and evaluate the impacts of non-thermal lifetime exposures to cellphone radiation. In 2018, the NTP issued the results of that $30 million state-of-the-art study, finding clear evidence of cancer and DNA damage.

In a remarkable about face, the FDA summarily rejected findings from the very study it had invited, reviewed and approved at several junctures, nonsensically questioning their relevance to humans, living up to its reputation as a captured agency.

In reviewing our case, Environmental Health Trust et al v. FCC, the court asked the agency to show what expert advice it had relied on to dismiss the NTP study and thousands of pages of peer-reviewed science. The FCC had invoked the Interagency Radiofrequency Radiation Work Group, but could provide no evidence that this loosely affiliated, unfunded informal federal Work Group has either met or offered the FCC any advice in the past two years.

The court then asked specifically whether the FDA had sought advice from its own Technical Electronic Product Radiation Safety Standards Committee, The FCC was forced to concede that that technical advisory committee has not met since 2016, is next scheduled to meet in fiscal 2021, and has never considered cellphone safety. In fact, that committee chiefly focuses on ensuring that electronic products do not interfere with each other. So you can be pretty sure that your phone will not block your tablet from working, but you have no idea whether either of them might interfere with your heart or cause damage to your DNA.

Apple last week admitted that its iPhone 12 needs to be kept off the body — away from any implanted pacemaker that can interfere with its operation. That hot new device sports a MagSafe gizmo so you can attach accessories magnetically and charge wirelessly. Of course, our heart is our natural pacemaker.

Devra Davis is president of EHTrust.org who served as a Clinton appointee from 1994-99 and was a member of the IPCC Awarded the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize.


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