Excerpted from CASE STUDY: VERIZON TOWER IN PITTSFIELD
How the FCC shields cellphone companies from safety concerns
- By Peter Elkind, ProPublica Nov 16, 2022
The Berkshire Eagle newspaper
More than 20 foreign governments have adopted protective measures or recommended precautions.
- Italy, India, Israel, Chile, Croatia, Ukraine, Kuwait, Greece, China, Russia, Canada, Switzerland, Brussels Belgium, Bosnia Herzegovina, Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, Greece, Belarus, Georgia, Serbia, Slovenia, Montenegro, Croatia, Bulgaria, Turkey India, Liechtenstein, Tajikistan, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Kuwait, Republic of Moldova, Iraq
France requires new phones to be sold with headsets and written guidance on limiting radiation exposures; it also bans phones marketed to small children and ads aimed at anyone younger than 14. Greece and Switzerland routinely monitor radio-frequency radiation levels throughout the country. Britain, Canada, Finland, Germany, Italy, India and South Korea urge citizens to limit both their own exposure and cellphone use by children. The European Environment Agency does too, noting: “There is sufficient evidence of risk to advise people, especially children, not to place the handset against their heads.”
Why isn’t the USA recommending precautions?
Thread of roadblocks below:
Henry Lai, an emeritus professor of bioengineering at the University of Washington, has compiled a database of 1,123 peer-reviewed studies published since 1990 investigating biological effects from wireless-radiation exposure. Some 77% have found “significant” effects, according to Lai. By contrast, an earlier review by Lai found that 72% of industry-sponsored studies reported no biological effects.
As the FCC moved toward adopting wireless-radiation limits in 1996, EPA officials, whose experts had conducted the most extensive government research on wireless-radiation risk, affirmed their concern about possible biological harm in a presentation to the FCC. They urged the FCC to follow a two-stage strategy: to meet a looming congressional deadline by first setting interim limits covering known thermal effects; then to commission a group of experts to study biological risks and develop permanent exposure guidelines. But the FCC never pursued “Phase 2.” Instead, just months later, Congress completed a multiyear defunding of the EPA’s wireless-radiation group, sidelining the agency from researching the issue.
in 1999, the FDA asked the NTP (National Toxicology Program) to “assess the risk to human health.” The results were dramatic. The study found “clear evidence” of rare cancerous heart tumors, called schwannomas, in male rats; “some evidence” of tumors in their brains and adrenal glands; and signs of DNA damage. The percentage that developed tumors was small, but, as the study’s authors noted earlier, “Given the extremely large number of people who use wireless communication devices, even a very small increase in the incidence of disease resulting from exposure” could have “broad implications for public health.”
The FCC in 2013 had been prodded by a Government Accountability Office report to review its radio-frequency exposure limit, unchanged since 1996. “We recognize that a great deal of scientific research has been completed in recent years and new research is currently underway, warranting a comprehensive examination,” the FCC wrote, in opening its inquiry. An Interior Department letter voiced concern about the impact of radiation from towers on migrating birds, noting that the FCC’s limits “continue to be based on thermal heating, a criterion now nearly 30 years out of date and inapplicable today.” “The inquiry was just on a back burner, and the back burner was turned off.”
In 2014, the CDC added this modest language to its website: “Along with many organizations worldwide, we recommend caution in cellphone use.” They were coerced to revising it and changing there “we” to “some organizations.”
In 2017, as the FCC’s review of its wireless standards entered its fourth year, Mantiply, a soft-spoken physical scientist said, he and three colleagues proposed hiring an outside consulting firm to conduct an environmental assessment, a detailed formal examination, of the submissions on the radiation safety limits. But their boss, Julius Knapp, the head of the FCC’s Office of Engineering and Technology, summarily rejected the proposal. Mantiply’s proposal came at a time when the Trump White House and FCC commissioners were aggressively promoting 5G.
In 2018, a massive, nearly-two-decade study by the National Toxicology Program, part of the National Institutes of Health, found “clear evidence” that cellphone radiation caused cancer in lab animals. “We’re really in the middle of a paradigm shift,” said Linda Birnbaum, who was director of the NTP (National Toxicology Program) until 2019. It’s no longer right to assume cellphones are safe, she said. “Protective policy is needed today. We really don’t need more science to know that we should be reducing exposures.” The FCC rejected the need for any such action when it reviewed its standards on cellphone radiation in 2019. The agency decided it would continue to rely on exposure limits it established in 1996, when Motorola’s StarTAC flip phone was considered cutting edge.
To find out more about this potential hazard: www.safehelpsyou.org