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Cellphones Communications

FCC Revisiting Mobile Device Radiation Standards 80

Posted by Soulskill
from the enjoy-that-can-of-worms dept.
MojoKid writes "Did you know that the FCC hasn't updated its guidelines regarding maximum radiation levels in mobile devices since 1996? FCC chairman Julius Genachowski is apparently aware of this, because he's looking to launch a formal inquiry into the matter. In a statement that was recently circulated, the FCC isn't exactly concerned that current standards are too lax, but it makes sense to periodically review standards for an industry that changes and evolves so rapidly and dramatically. There has been much debate in recent years about the potential danger of radiation from cell phones, and although there has been some study on the subject, there is not yet a general consensus on whether there is a real danger from mobile device radiation, and if there is, what the acceptable levels might be."
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FCC Revisiting Mobile Device Radiation Standards

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  • by Immerman (2627577) on Friday June 15, 2012 @05:45PM (#40339767)

    Agreed. In fact there's very promising research underway in the use of electric fields to kill cancer - since cancer cells divide far more often than most other cells an aggressive "kill field" can be applied to an area making cell division a fatal process, thus damaging the cancer far more severely than the surrounding tissue, without the unpleasant side effects of radiation or chemotherapy. Potential side effects of the electric fields are still unknown.
    http://www.ted.com/talks/bill_doyle_treating_cancer_with_electric_fields.html [ted.com]

    The point of course is that we know for a fact that at least some electric fields can cause severe cellular trauma, it stands to reason that there are much larger number of field characteristics that would result in less obvious damage. In the face of that just assuming that all electric fields are safe is foolish. It's also worth noting that the nature of the transmissions has changed - in '96 analogue transmission was the norm, these days almost everything has gone digital, and that makes a considerable difference in the physical properties of the signal - assuming it will continue to interfere with cellular processes in the exact same (probably mostly harmless) manner is unfounded.

    More to the point - while *nothing* is completely safe, it just makes good sense to reexamine the regulations governing fast-changing fields on a regular basis, if only to make sure there are no new developments that cast doubt on the wisdom of existing policy. 90's era cell phones were probably reasonably safe - today we have far more mobile devices in operation, so the level of background radiation generated is considerably higher with different spectral properties. Is that a problem? Probably not, but I'd just as soon have the question asked officially from time to time.

  • Re:Uh... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by icebike (68054) * on Friday June 15, 2012 @06:13PM (#40340039)

    1. I'm assuming there hasn't been too much radical human evolution since 1996.
    2. Considering that modern devices likely emit lower levels of radiation simply to save battery life compared to the bricks of '96, I doubt that you are getting cooked by your iPhone in any worse way than by your grandpa's Startac.

    Grandpa!?? Listen, sonny, I represent that statement!!

    My first cell was the MicroTac [wikipedia.org], which predated both the StarTac and the FCC radiation standards by almost 10 years. This thing would fry your ear with heat on a call of any duration. Their anemic batteries pretty much limited duration to a medium broil.

    Further, any effects of radiation from those old school phones should have been seen by now. The NRC states [nrc.gov] that

    The effects of low doses of radiation, if any, would occur at the cell level, and thus changes may not be observed for many years (usually 5-20 years) after exposure.

    And they are talking about ionizing radiation, not simple radio waves.

    Contrary to the Summary's assertion that "there is not yet a general consensus on whether there is a real danger from mobile device radiation", there is simply no longer any debate, as every study finding even a remote statistical link has been deeply flawed, and pretty well debunked. Even the formerly hand wringing article over at Wikipedia [wikipedia.org] has been forced to admit there is just no evidence. The historical/hysterical versions of that article were pretty comical at times.

Facts are stubborn, but statistics are more pliable.

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