FCC to consider changing cellphone radiation standards

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is considering whether to change its cellphone radiation standards.

Chairman Julius Genachowski circulated an order on Friday that would launch a formal inquiry into the levels of radiation that the commission allows devices to emit.

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Recent studies have indicated that radiation from cellphones could increase the risk of cancer, lower bone density or alter brain activity. But numerous other studies have found no harm.

An FCC official said the commission's decision to explore the issue was not triggered by any particular event or study. He noted that after the commission's probe, it could choose to maintain its current standards, make them more lax or make them more stringent.

The official said the inquiry is a routine procedure to review the commission's standards. The FCC last updated its radiation guidelines in 1996.

If the five-member commission votes to move forward with the inquiry, it will begin accepting comments from the cellphone industry, consumer groups and the public.

The wireless industry has long argued that regular levels of cellphone radiation pose no danger to consumers.

John Walls, vice president of public affairs for wireless trade group CTIA, said he welcomes the commission's continued oversight of the issue.

"We fully expect that the FCC’s review will confirm, as it has in the past, that the scientific evidence establishes no reason for concern about the safety of cellphones," he said in a statement.

He noted that an advisory group to the United Kingdom's Health Protection Agency recently found that cellphones are safe.

"Expert agencies and scientific advisory groups around the world have concluded that cellphones operating within government standards pose no known health effects and are safe for normal use,” he said.

CTIA sued San Francisco last year when the city tried to require warnings on cellphones about the risks of radiation. A federal court sided with CTIA, and blocked the warnings.