US Government Reports on Cell Phones, Radiofrequency and Electromagnetic Fields
The USA used to have a robust research program on EMFS. Then the Telecom Act was passed, the EPA was defunded and wireless radiation limits were set by industry loyal groups. On this page EHT links to government reports to show the long history of research and inaction on cell phone and electromagnetic radiation.
“The EPA, which used to have more than 30 people assigned to health research related to electromagnetic fields from power lines and radio frequency/microwave radiation, now has one person, Hankin, who still works in the field.”– Sun Sentinel
To get quick background on the lack of accountability in US health and safety agencies in the United States and on industry involvement in the science, we recommend these articles
- Sun Sentinel, Officials at odds over the long-term effects of cell phone use, October 2005
- GQ Magazine, Warning: Your Cell Phone May Be Hazardous to Your Health, 2010
- Alternet “What the Cellphone Industry Doesn’t Want You to Know About Radiation Concerns” June 2013
- Seattle Magazine, UW Scientist Henry Lai Makes Waves in the Cell Phone Industry
- Harvard Press Investigative Report, “Captured Agency: How the Federal Communications Commission is Dominated by the Industries it Presumably Regulates” by Norm Alster
2014: U.S. Department of the Interior Letter to the National Telecommunications and Information Administration Stating FCC Guidelines are Outdated. Willie R. Taylor, Director, of the Department of Interior Office of Environmental Policy and Compliance writes that “a significant issue associated with communication towers involves impacts from non-ionizing electromagnetic radiation emitted by these structures” and details science that found “strong negative correlations between levels of tower-emitted microwave radiation and bird breeding, nesting, and roosting in the vicinity of electromagnetic fields including nest and site abandonment, plumage deterioration, locomotion problems, reduced survivorship, and death in House Sparrows, White Storks, Rock Doves, Magpies, Collared Doves, and other species”. The letter states that FCC RF exposure limits are out of date and irrelevant statin, “However, the electromagnetic radiation standards used by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) continue to be based on thermal heating, a criterion now nearly 30 years out of date and inapplicable today”. Read the 2014 U.S. Department of the Interior Letter2012: FCC opens Official Inquiry Into Human Exposure Guidelines: In response to the GAO Report, the FCC opened a proceeding to explore whether it should modify its radiofrequency exposure standards stating, “we specifically seek comment as to whether our current limits are appropriate as they relate to device use by children.” Over 900 submissions have been made to the FCC. To date no actions have been taken by the FCC or any other Federal agency on this docket. Dr. Moskowitz catalogued Submissions in 2013 on his SAFER EMR website but substantial new submissions have been made since that date. To access all current submissions go to the FCC’s web site for Proceeding Number 13-84. See the submissions from scientists, industry and private citizens for ET Docket No. 13-84 Reassessment of Federal Communications Commission Radiofrequency Exposure Limits and Policies See the submissions from scientists, industry and private citizens for ET Docket No. 03-137 Proposed Changes in the Commission’s Rules Regarding Human Exposure to Radiofrequency Electromagnetic Fields Read the FCC Notice of Inquiry April 2013 FCC PDF FIRST REPORT AND ORDER FURTHER NOTICE OF PROPOSED RULE MAKING AND NOTICE OF INQUIRY13-84 FCC Reassessment of Federal Communications Commission Radiofrequency Exposure Limits and Policies; Proposed Changes in the Commission’s Rules Regarding Human Exposure to Radiofrequency Electromagnetic Fields Read Federal Register Reassessment of Exposure to Radiofrequency Electromagnetic Fields Limits and Policies Read TR Daily 2013 Article Summarizing FCC’s Inquiry by clicking here for a useful introduction. 2012 Government Accountability Office (GAO) Report: “Exposure and Testing Requirements for Mobile Phones Should Be Reassessed.” This Report calls on the FCC to “formally reassess and, if appropriate, change its current RF energy (microwave) exposure limit and mobile phone testing requirements related to likely usage configurations, particularly when phones are held against the body,” because without such a reassessment, the “FCC cannot ensure it is using a limit that reflects the latest research on RF energy exposure.” GAO 2012 Report: Exposure and Testing Requirements for Mobile Phones Should Be Reassessed September 2009 US Senate Hearings on Health Effects of Cell Phone Wireless Radiation. Testimony was given by John Bucher, Associate Director of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, National Toxicology Program, Devra L. Davis Director of the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute, Center for Environmental Oncology, Linda Erdreich Senior Scientist with Exponent Engineering and Scientific Consulting, Dariusz Leszczynski Research Professor STUK Radiation and Nuclear Safety Authority, Olga Naidenko Senior Scientist Environmental Working Group, Siegal Sadetzki Director Chaim Sheba Medical Center Cancer and Radiation Epidemiology. Video US Senate Hearings on Health Effects of Cell Phone Wireless Radiation at the C-SPAN link. January 2009, The President’s Cancer Panel Presented on Cell Phone Radiation This meeting was the last in the President’s Cancer Panel’s 2008/2009 series, Environmental Factors in Cancer and was focused on radiation exposures as they relate to cancer risk. Presenters included Dr. Martha Linet, Chief of the Radiation Epidemiology Branch of the National Cancer Institute, and Dr. David Carpenter, Director of the Institute for Health and the Environment as well as Professor of Environmental Health Sciences within the School of Public Health at the University at Albany. “The evidence for a direct relationship between power line frequency EMFs and cancer is very strong. The lack of a specific mechanism is not a good reason to ignore this evidence.” “The United States needs to take a stand in issuing warnings about the use of cell phones, especially by children. Other countries have taken a precautionary approach with this issue and are basing their warnings on the same science available in the U.S.” PRESIDENT’S CANCER PANEL MEETING SUMMARY, ENVIRONMENTAL FACTORS IN CANCER. Dr Carpenter’s testimony to the President’s panel was published in Reviews in Environmental Health 2009. September 2008 Congressional Hearing: Health Effects of Cell Phone Use Testimony was presented by David Carpenter, Director State University of New York, Albany, Institute of Health and Environment, Ronald B. Herberman M.D. Director of the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute, Robert Hoover, Director of the National Cancer Institute, Epidemiology and Genetics Research Program and Julius P. Knapp II Chief of the Federal Communications Commission, Office of Engineering and Technology, Ellie Marks, Brain Tumor Association of California. Please watch the C-Span Video of this Congressional hearing here. January 2008: National Research Council Report “The Identification of Research Needs Relating to Potential Biological or Adverse Health Effects of Wireless Communications Devices” This Report reviewed the research needs and gaps and called for the critical need to increase our understanding of any potential adverse effects of long term chronic exposure to RF/microwave energy on children and pregnant woman. “The Identification of Research Needs Relating to Potential Biological or Adverse Health Effects of Wireless Communications Devices” 2003: The Interagency Radio Frequency Workgroup’s Letter to CK Chou on Additional Concerns about US RF Exposure Guidelines. EPA’s Norbert Hankin penned the federal RFIWG’s second letter on concerns about RF human exposure guidelines with three additional issues.; the sensitivity of different tissues to temperature; that a relaxation of standards will allow for higher exposures; and that the pinna- or ear- is being considered an extremity and will be allowed far higher RF limits without considerations of different body sizes. To our knowledge neither the 2003 or 1999 letter were ever responded to. Read the 2003 Interagency Radio Frequency Workgroup’s Letter to CK Chou on RF Exposures. 2002 Letter from the EPA about the Inadequacy of the FCC guidelines sent to Janet Newton. “The generalization by many that the guidelines protect human beings from harm by any or all mechanisms is not justified.”Norbert Hankin, lead scientist of the EPA Center for Science and Risk Assessment Radiation Protection Division, states that the current FCC human exposure limits, “are thermally based, and do not apply to chronic, nonthermal exposure situations” and that an understanding of the impact on sensitive populations such as children, pregnant women and the elderly still needs to be done. Read the EPA July 6, 2002 Letter on RF Exposure Limits. 2001: Scientist George Carlo Publishes Expose on Wireless Industry George Carlo is the scientist who lead a 7 year, 28.5 million dollar research project called the Wireless Technology Research ( WTR) funded by the US wireless industry. When research findings found biological effects such as genetic damage in human blood as measured through the formation of micronuclei, he alleges the information was suppressed and the wireless industry tried to discredit him. He shared his story in a book co-authored with Martin Schram called Cell Phones: Invisible Hazards In the Wireless Age. In addition the volume Wireless Phones and Health II: State of the Science 2002 nd Edition assembles papers presented at WTR’s Second State of the Science Colloquium and is the result of the 28.5 million dollars research program. “The current science is not definitive about health risks from wireless phones; however, the legitimate questions about safety that have arisen from recent studies make claims of absolute safety no longer supportable”. Watch the C-Span Interview with Dr. Carlo. 2001 GAO Report: Research and Regulatory Efforts on Mobile Phone Health Issues “For its part, FCC makes information on radiofrequency exposure issues publicly available, but this information is typically at a level of technical detail that is not well-suited to a general audience. These shortcomings in consumer information are a particular cause for concern because the industry is including information from both FDA and FCC with most new mobile phones. This report makes recommendations to FCC for improving its review of mobile phone testing and to FCC and FDA for improving consumer information on radiofrequency exposure and health issues….Given the prominence of the mobile phone health issue, FDA and FCC need to provide the public with clear, accurate, and timely information so that they can make informed decisions.” Read the May 2001 GAO Report here. 1999: Federal Radio -Frequency Interagency Workgroup (RFIW) Letter to Richard Tell Chair, IEEE SCC28 (SC4) Risk Assessment Work Group from the Radiofrequency Radiation Interagency Work Group on Critical Concerns About RF guidelines. In this letter, members of the RFIW identity several critical issues with the RF exposure guidelines. Their concerns include the need for a biological basis for SAR limit and they point out that the limits for brain and bone marrow should be lower than those from muscles and fat as tissues are not equally sensitive. They question the selection criteria for the adverse effect and state there is extensive data on acute effects but that the lower-level non-thermal chronic exposure effects may be very different and chronic effects need to be accounted for. They state the uncertainties in the data should be addressed. “These studies have resulted in concern that exposure guidelines based on thermal effects, and using information and concepts (time-averaged dosimetry, uncertainty factors) that mask any differences between intensity-modulated RF radiation exposure and CW exposure, do not directly address public exposures, and therefore may not adequately protect the public.” Read the 1999 Federal Radio -Frequency Interagency Workgroup (RFIW) Letter to Richard Tell 1998 National Institutes of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) Categorizes EMFs as “Possible” Human Carcinogens. Power frequency electromagnetic fields (EMFs) are categorized as “possible human carcinogens,” according to a working group assembled by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS). After ten days of review, on June 24, the 30-member panel voted 19 to 9 in favor of categorizing extremely low frequency (ELF) EMFs, such as those from power lines and electrical appliances, as possible carcinogens. Read Microwave News Report. Read the NIEHS Press Release. Read the NIEHS Report Assessment of Health Effects from Exposure to Power-Line Frequency Electric and Magnetic Fields. 1996 Guidelines for Human Exposure to Radiofrequency Radiation Adopted by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Limits IEEE/ANSI C95.1 1992 were the basis of the FCC regulated exposure limits with some minor points coming from the NCRP Report 86 (1986 Report). Read the FCC Report and Order Guidelines for Evaluating the Environmental Effects of Radiofrequency Radiation ET Docket No. 93-62 1996 EPA Research De-Funded by Appropriations Bill S. Rept. 104-140 – DEPARTMENTS OF VETERANS AFFAIRS AND HOUSING AND URBAN DEVELOPMENT, AND INDEPENDENT AGENCIES APPROPRIATIONS BILL This Bill significantly defunded the EPA Radiation Division that was engaged in research and developing safety standards to protect the public from thermal and non-thermal biological effects. The Senate Appropriations Committee Bill states,” …EPA has pursued a number of unintegrated activities on EMF that are of questionable value. Therefore, the Committee believes EPA should not engage in EMF activities.” S. Rept. 104-140 – DEPARTMENTS OF VETERANS AFFAIRS AND HOUSING AND URBAN DEVELOPMENT, AND INDEPENDENT AGENCIES APPROPRIATIONS BILL 1995 EPA Letter to the FCC on Near Completion of EMF Guidelines: The EPA updated the FCC on their progress in developing safety standards to cover thermal and non-thermal effects. 1995 EPA Briefing To the FCC and NTIA on EPA “Development of RF/MW Radiation Guidelines” In this powerpoint presentation, the EPA briefs the FCC and NTIA about their progress in developing human exposure guidelines- that consider thermal AND nonthermal effects for microwave radiation. The EPA was in a two phase process. First they were setting “interim RF radiation guidelines” which “did not account for modulation, chronic exposure or non thermal effects.” Then they were going to focus on “modulated and nonthermal exposures” in Phase 2 by convening national experts. A year later, the EPA was defunded from RF work and standards were never set. EPA Briefing To the FCC and NTIA on EPA “Development of RF/MW Radiation Guidelines” 1995: Extremely Low Frequency Electric and Magnetic Fields by the National Council on Radiation Protection and Measurements (NCRP) Draft Report NCRP was contracted by the EPA in 1983 to conduct a review of the biological effects of Extremely Low Frequency (ELF) EMFs. According to Microwave News , the 800 page draft report was prepared which generally endorsed a 2 mG exposure limit. Committee chair Dr. Ross Adey, of the Veterans Administration Hospital in Loma Linda, CA, told Microwave News, “It took us nine years but we finally reached agreement,” The recommendations “would take effect immediately for new day care centers, schools and playgrounds, as well as for new transmission lines near existing housing.” In July 1995 the NCRP committee Chairman, Ross Adey, stated,“The laboratory evidence for athermal effects of both ELF and RF/MW fields now constitutes a major body of scientific literature in peer-reviewed journals. It is my personal view that to continue to ignore this work in the course of standard setting is irresponsible to the point of being a public scandal.” However on October 11, 1995 NCRP put out a press release that “Draft material formulated by NCRP Scientific Committee 89-3 on ELF EMF has been improperly disseminated and does not reflect NCRP recommendation.” The final report was supposed to be approved and to be publicly available in early 1996, but final approval of the draft has never been acted upon. Reference to the NCRP Committee in Letter to US Regulatory Commission Conclusions/ Recommendations of NCRP, Microwave News July August 1995, pgs 12-15, 1994 (U.S.) Air Force Material Command, Rome Laboratory Report: Radiofrequency / Microwave Radiation Biological Effects and Safety Standards: A Review “It was recognized that the SAR does not encompass all of the important factors necessary to determine safe exposure levels. The modulation frequency and peak power of the incident EM field should also be considered. Some of the investigators warned that extra care should be taken by persons that are subjected to pulsed EM fields or by fields that are modulated near the whole-body resonance frequency.”“Nonresonant pulsed RF/MW radiation may be more harmful to living organisms than CW radiation emitted at nonresonant frequencies.” “Even exposure to low levels of RF/MW radiation can impair immunologic functions.” (U.S.) Air Force Material Command, Rome Laboratory Radiofrequency / Microwave Radiation Biological Effects and Safety Standards: A Review 1993 EPA Comments to the Federal Communication Commission’s (FCC’s) proposed RF/MW radiation limits 93-142 Guidelines For Evaluating the Non Thermal Effects of Radiofrequency Radiation: The EPA states that certain subgroups are more at risk (pregnant women, children and the elderly) and calls for an updated, comprehensive review that considers the biological effects of RF, specifically pointing to the need to update the NCRP Report 86 (Note: NCRP 86 is still the basis for US regulations according to the FCC and has not been updated to include biological effects). “The FCC should not adopt the 1992 ANSI IEEE standard there are serious flaws in the standard that call into question whether the proposed use the 1992 ANSI IEEE is sufficiently protective.” The report also states that “the claim of protection for all persons from all interactive mechanisms” has “not been supported”. Read the letter and comments here. EPA Comments to the Federal Communication Commission’s (FCC’s) proposed RF/MW radiation limits 93-142 Guidelines For Evaluating the Non Thermal Effects of Radiofrequency Radiation
Electromagnetic Fields (EMFs): A Training Workbook for Working People published by the Labor Institute and funded by a grant from the New York Department of Labor, Occupational Safety and Health Training and Education program. Full Book Text
1990 EPA Evaluation of the Potential Carcinogenicity of Electromagnetic Fields (Draft Report) When this report was first drafted, the team recommended that power-frequency EMFs should be classified as “probable human carcinogens” and that RF/MW radiation be considered a “possible human carcinogen.” However, this review remains a “Draft only” as it was never finalized. The Report was prepared to review and evaluate the available literature on the potential carcinogenicity of electromagnetic fields. With respect to human epidemiologic studies, the EPA found of the strongest link between exposure to 60 HZ magnetic field and human cancer. Consistent modest elevations of cancer risk for leukemia, cancer of the central nervous system and lymphoma were found in children whose exposure to magnetic fields was estimated at two MG or higher. These studies estimate a potential 1.5 to 3 increase in cancer risk from elevated magnetic field exposure as defined by wiring codes.
“However, despite the low energy of power-frequency fields and the very small perturbations that they make to the natural fields within the body, studies over the last fifteen years have demonstrated unequivocally that under certain circumstances, the membranes of cells can be sensitive to even fairly weak externally imposed low frequency electromagnetic fields. Extremely small signal changes can trigger major biochemical responses critical to the functioning of the cell. This should perhaps have come as no surprise, as cells, especially those in the nervous system, make use of complex electrochemical processes in their normal function. The ability of some animals including eels, sharks, and pigeons to detect extremely weak ELF fields and use them for homing and finding prey clearly demonstrates that at least some specialized cells can be exquisitively sensitive to such fields.”
“Among the responses demonstrated in laboratory studies using animal cells and tissue are: modulation of ion flows; interference with DNA synthesis and RNA transcription; interaction with the response of normal cells to various agents and biochemical such as hormones, neurotransmitters, and growth factors; interaction with the biochemical kinetics of cancer cells.”The Radiofrequency Radiation Environment: Environmental Exposure Levels and RF Radiation Emitting Sources 1985 EPA Report Biological influences of low-frequency sinusoidal electromagnetic signals alone and superimposed on RF carrier waves by Carl Blackman, F. Research Triangle Park, N.C., Health Effects Research Laboratory, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Biological influences of low-frequency sinusoidal electromagnetic signals alone and superimposed on RF carrier waves 1984: US Science Advisory Board (SAB) Recommendation to the EPA To Develop RF Guidelines: In this letter, the SAB Board recommends that the EPA develop radiation protection guidance to protect the public. The report contains a 1983 letter from FCC Chairman Mark Fowler to the EPA Administrator Kathleen Bennett which states, “We believe that a definitive federal standard is imperative. Therefore we would like to make clear our support for your guidance development. We encourage the EPA to complete this process as expeditiously as possible so that her uniform federal standard will be available for use by the FCC and other affected agencies.” Page 14 has a list of “Significant events in EPA RF Radiation Guidance Program” Page 30 lists Biological Effects and has the EPA Proposed Guidance level at .04 W/kg Read the US Science Advisory Board (SAB) Recommendation to the EPA To Develop RF Guidelines 1983 The EPA publishes Biological Effects Of RadioFrequency Radiation. “The objective of this report was to summarize and evaluate the existing database for use in developing RF radiation exposure guidance for the general public. The frequency range covered in this document is .5 MHz to 100 GHz. The existing database provides sufficient evidence about the relation between RF radiation exposure and biological effects to commit development of exposure limits to protect the health of the general public. It has been concluded from this review that biological effects occur at SAR up to about 1 W/kg some of them may be significant under certain environmental conditions.” Read the Biological Effects Of RadioFrequency Radiation. EPA Document online, PDF, Read the 1983 Project summary of the EPA Bioeffects research here. 1981: United States Congressional Hearing by House Committee on Science and Technology. Subcommittee on Investigations and Oversight. Potential health effects of video display terminals and radio frequency heaters and sealers, May 12, 13, 1981. Hathai Trust Digital Library link Transcript of Hearing As a result of this hearing, the June 1981 Report “Requirements for an Effective National Nonionizing Radiation Measurement System” was prepared which provides a detailed assessment of the capabilities, limitations, and requirements of the National Non-ionizing Radiation measurement system. The report concludes that “the need to develop and improve instrumentation, measurement standards, calibration services and standardize measurement techniques far outweighs the need to establish regional calibration laboratories at this time.” 1981: EPA Report: Index of Publications on Biological Effects of Electromagnetic Radiation. This publication produced by the EPA Health Effects Research Laboratory compiles literature on the Bioeffects of EMFs 0-100 GHz. Read the Index of Publications on Biological Effects of Electromagnetic Radiation. 1981 United States Dept of Commerce, “Program for Control of Electromagnetic Pollution of the environment: The Assessment of Biological Hazards of Non-ionizing Electromagnetic Radiation” 1979: United State Congress Hearing: Microwave irradiation of the U.S. Embassy in Moscow: review of its history and studies to determine whether or not related health defects were experienced by employees assigned in the period, 1953-1977. To see transcript please go to this link. Each page is saved separately so to see next page you simply change the end number “-0001” to “-0002” etc. all the way up to “-0032.” 1980 EPA Report: Genetic and Cellular Effects of Microwave Radiation This report summarizes a research program the EPA performed to determine genetic and cellular effects of microwave radiation by the EPA. The report details the research that included bacteria strains and yeasts with three kinds of EMF exposure systems and concludes that there is “conclusive evidence for definite cellular effects.” These studies revealed no increase in mutations or gene conversions. The report recommends research needed to continue understanding effects of microwaves in relation to human health. 1980 EPA Report: Genetic and Cellular Effects of Microwave Radiation 1979: United States Congressional Hearing “Research on health effects of nonionizing radiation” House Committee on Science and Technology. Subcommittee on Natural Resources and Environment. Hearing dated July 12, 1979. “There is only one established mechanism which can explain most of the effects of non-ionizing radiation and that mechanism is gross heating resulting from exposure to high levels of NIR(nonionizing radiation).” and “There is an increasing number of research reports which describe biological effects and exposure levels that are not commensurate with the induction of gross heating. One may cite a large number of Soviet and East European reports as examples. These results suggest that non-ionizing radiation may cause biological effects without producing significant increases in temperature in sensitive tissue. The possibility of such interactions is being pursued by US researchers.” (page 195). Read the Transcript Part 1, Part 2, Part 3. 1979 FCC Notice of Inquiry on the “responsibility of the FCC to consider biological effects of radiofrequency radiation when authorizing the use of radiofrequency devices”. This report details “the considerable differences of opinion about the biological effects of low level and long-term radiation”. “A balance must be achieved between serving the public interest by fulfilling it’s needs for communications services and adequately protecting the populace against potentially adverse biological effects that may be attributable to excessive RF radiation.” The FCC calls for information and data on several matters related to this issue including: “Does a health risk no matter how small, outweigh economic loss or service cutbacks, no matter how large? By how much? Quantify your contention. Does a health risk to animals have to be considered? What if the species being threatened is on the endangered species list?” 1979 FCC Notice of Inquiry 1978: The Report on Radiation Health & Safety of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation Published on December 1978 ad prepared at the request of Howard W. Cannon, chairman, Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation. This report made the following recommendations: The National Bureau of Standards (NBS) should intensify its efforts to provide the physical measurement standards, calibration services, and standardized measurement techniques necessary for research and regulatory activities relating to non-ionizing radiation. Full Text of Report 1978 U.S. General Accounting Office Report “Efforts by the Environmental Protection Agency To Protect the Public from Environmental Nonionizing Radiation Exposures.”
- This report includes a letter from Henry Eschwege, Director of U.S. General Accounting Office, to Representative Elizabeth Holtzman in which he states, “Nonionizing radiation has become a subject of national concern because of the rapid increases in its uie and its potential harm to public health. The population is receiving measurable exposures to nonionizing radiation. The sources are increasing, and the health effects of such exposures at low levels are controversial.”
- The appendixes following Director Eschwege’s letter summarize the current EPA protection activities and existing exposure standards for non-ionizing radiation sources.
- The report concludes, “The population is receiving measurable exposures to nonionizing radiation. The sources are increasing while the health effects of such exposures at low levels is a controversial subject. Other countries have developed and issued both occupational and environmental standards for nonionizing radiation. Research programs, including EPA efforts to detect and evaluate biological effects of nonionizing radiation, have not yet been able to generate a sufficient data base on which quantitative and scientifically sound radiation protection standards for microwave and other nonionizing frequencies can be established. The current OSHA nonionizing radiation standard has been challenged for its enforceability and its protection adequacy.”