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FCC To Update 1996 Cell Phone Radiation Standard 90

An anonymous reader writes "It's been more than a decade and a half since the FCC adopted a set of standards for radiation exposure from cell phones. The guidelines set in 1996 (and based on studies from the '80s) have applied to all cell phones released in the U.S. since then. Now, the FCC has decided that modern devices are just a tiny bit different than models from the '90s (where did those suitcase phones go?), so they're going to review and update the standard. 'Even though the FCC hasn't changed its standards for evaluating the safety of cell phones, it has provided consumers with information about how to minimize the risk of exposure to cell phone radiation. For example, the FCC recommends people use the speakerphone feature or an earpiece when talking on the phone, since increasing the distance the device is held from the body greatly reduces exposure. But the agency has not advocated for stricter warnings nor has it even endorsed these safety measures as necessary. The current review of the standards could change that as the agency will look at its testing procedures as well as the educational information it provides to the public about cell phone safety.'"
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FCC To Update 1996 Cell Phone Radiation Standard

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  • texting vs talking (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 30, 2013 @12:58PM (#43318937)

    People no longer talk on cell phones to any significant degree. They text (*), which involves holding the phone at a distance from the head. That's got to reduce the exposure.

    (*) Except for Machete. Machete don't text.

  • Re:Basic summary: (Score:5, Interesting)

    by TechyImmigrant ( 175943 ) on Saturday March 30, 2013 @01:20PM (#43319069) Homepage Journal

    If there was a significant effect it would have shown up in the various massive epidemiological studies.

    The FCC 'advice' is based on supposition, not science.

    It goes like this.
    A -> B (RF causes local heating)
    B -> C (Local heating causes disease)

    So A -> C (RF causes disease)

    But A -> C was shown not to be true, and B -> C has never been established, but given the A->C thing, is almost certainly not true.

    If they want to save lives, they would have more success banning base jumping from radio towers.

  • Re:idiocy (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Solandri ( 704621 ) on Saturday March 30, 2013 @02:31PM (#43319463)

    Cell phone radiation is non-ionizing. There is no known, plausible mechanism by which non-ionizing radiation can cause cancer. That puts the burden of proof on the people who claim there's harm.

    There are two commonly-held contradictory beliefs at play here.

    • From a science standpoint, you can't prove a negative so the burden of proof should be on those claiming the product is harmful.
    • From a consumer safety standpoint, you're supposed to prove your product is safe before it can be brought to market. (e.g. UL testing)

    The FCC is trapped in the middle here (as is frequently the FTC, FAA, NTSB, FDA, NIH, etc). They're trying their best to satisfy both by using scientific principles to come up with safety standards that products can be tested against.

    There are certain issues where the common opinion on slashdot favors the second instead of the first. I won't mention what they are because lately that's a quick and easy way to get your post modded down into oblivion (that wasn't the case 10 years ago - nowadays too many people ignore the moderating guidelines and use their mod points as "dislike" votes). But if you think about it I'm sure you can figure them out.

    It's depressing that funding agencies such as NIH continue to give money to this type of junk science, and that scientific journals continue to publish it.

    If the burden of proof is on the people who claim there's harm, and you prohibit funding of any further attempts to find such harm, that subverts the scientific process. For a long time people suspected that electricity and magnetism were somehow related, but were unable to figure out how. How would things have turned out if those who believed they weren't related pointed to all the early failures and cited them as reason to cut off all funding for attempts to find a relationship between the two? I completely agree with you that there's no danger from these levels of non-ionizing radiation. But those who claim there is a danger must be allowed to continue trying to prove their viewpoint. Otherwise you've turned science into one big circle jerk of confirmation bias.

    Generally, the government agencies funding those types of studies do a pretty good job of it. They don't just keep funding the same study over and over. In order for the applicant to get funding, s/he has to propose something new and novel - either something which hasn't been studied before, or some way to conduct the study which hasn't been tried before and could give different insight.

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