FCC Calls to Review Cell Phone Radiation Guidelines




Pong Research Corporation applauds the U.S. Government Accountability Office’s (GAO) report calling for the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to update its cell phone radiation exposure and testing guidelines. According to the GAO report, the current standards—in place since 1997 (some 4 years before the first smartphones became commercially available)—“may not reflect the latest research,” “may not identify maximum exposure [to radiation] in all possible usage conditions,” and, notably, fail to test for use of phones against the body—which “could result in RF [radio frequency] energy exposure higher than the FCC limit.”  Since most people today use and carry their phones against their bodies, consumers likely are unknowingly and consistently exposed to radiation levels above the FCC safety limit.  The FCC’s web site however still informs consumers that cell phones tested by these very same FCC standards, are “safe.”

Pong today filed a letter with the FCC that elucidated that real radiation absorption actually experienced by consumers is likely substantially higher than current government limits, including from some of the most popular devices on the market.  Pong’s letter also explained how the FCC’s current device testing guidelines likely underestimate the real absorption rate of radiation by children.  Pong, finally, urged changes to the FCC’s web site consistent with the GAO Report and other recent developments, in order properly to inform consumers of the potential health effects of electro-magnetic radiation exposure, so that consumers can best exercise precautions.  A copy of Pong’s letter is filed in the FCC’s WT Docket No. 03-137.

In addition to suggesting updates to the FCC testing guidelines, the GAO also reported that, “while the overall body of research has not demonstrated adverse health effects, some individual studies suggest possible effects.”  With respect to potential health impact from cell phone use, GAO stated “the research is not conclusive because findings from some studies have suggested a possible association with certain types of tumors, including cancerous tumors.”  The GAO further stated that FDA and others maintain the conclusion that “insufficient information was available to conclude mobile phones posed no risk.”

 

“The current government guidelines, in place since 1997, are antiquated, and lead users to conclude that cell phones are ‘safe’ to a scientific certainty—a notion that the findings of the World Health Organization, and the GAO report itself, appear to contradict,” said Dr. Shannon Kennedy, President and CEO of Pong.  “We should instead implement testing standards that reflect ‘real world’ usage patterns, protect vulnerable populations such as children, consider the biological effects of radiation in testing methodology, and encourage and inform consumers on how to exercise precautions and achieve the lowest possible radiation exposures,” Dr. Kennedy commented.  “Also, given the uncertainty, until further study is completed and the FCC’s testing guidelines are updated, rather than informing consumers that cell phones are ‘safe,’ government should instead provide consumers with as much information as possible, including as to how to best exercise precautions.”

Pong manufactures the only cell phone and tablet cases proven in FCC-certified laboratories to reduce users’ radiation exposure or “SAR” by up to 95% below FCC and international safety limits, while at the same time optimizing signal strength and conserving battery life.

Current FCC guidelines assume a one-size-fits-all measurement.  SAR limits, which measure only the thermal or heating properties of devices, are benchmarked against a 6’2” 200-pound man who would be much less vulnerable to mobile phoneradiation than smaller adults and children.  A further and significant flaw lies with how the current guidelines are measured:  by holding the cell phone between 1.5 and 2.5 centimeters (or 1 inch) away from the body.  This method gives an inaccurate reading of radiation exposure, since almost all consumers hold their phones against their heads and bodies.  “If measured for real life situations, the results would likely show that devices such as cell phones and tablets routinely exceed the radiation exposure allowed by current limits,” Dr. Kennedy said.

“It was encouraging to see the GAO mention this FCC testing discrepancy in its report,” Dr. Kennedy said.  “If we’re going to be scientifically honest, SAR must be measured the same way most people use their phones.  In our experience, most consumers are surprised to learn that their iPhone manual tells them their phone may exceed FCC radiation exposure guidelines if they hold it less than 5/8 of an inch away from their body.”