FCC Hangs Up On Vital Cell Phone Wisdom | Seventh Generation
Skip to Content
  • Pin It

FCC Hangs Up On Vital Cell Phone Wisdom

Author: the Inkslinger

I'm not usually dialed into the goings-on at the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), but a couple of weeks ago something disconcerting happened. Suddenly and without any warning or explanation, the agency changed the advice it offers consumers about cell phone safety and removed its previous recommendation that consumers worried about potential cell phone-related health issues purchase phones that emit lower amounts of radiation.

The crucial edit to the agency's consumer fact sheet comes as the cell phone safety controversy is heating up. This past June, for example, San Francisco put into effect a new ordinance requiring retailers to list the radiation emission levels of the mobile phones they sell, and the debate about a possible relationship between cell phone usage and things like brain and salivary gland tumors is growing in the medical community.

In light of the glaring lack of justification for the move, consumer advocates have accused the FCC of a lack of transparency, and reasoned opinion has to ask whose interests the FCC is more concerned about protecting: ours or cell phone makers? Because the jury is still very much out on the issue of whether or not cell phones cause cancer. The truth is we just don't know at this point. But there's enough evidence to suggest that they might. And if they do, it's going to be the radiation they emit that's the culprit, which would make choosing models that emit the lowest levels of radiation the best possible precautionary advice at this point. That the FCC no longer offers this suggestion is a serious public disservice. Since they won't advise consumers responsibly, we will with these tips:

  • First and foremost, choose a cell phone model with the lowest possible radiation emission levels! Consult this database for all the latest ratings.
  • Use a headset when you make cell calls and equip it with a small clip-on ferrite bead, which will block the radiation your headset would otherwise direct into your head.
  • Use the speakerphone function if a headset is not available. Holding your phone two inches away drops radiation exposure by a factor of four. Hold it out four inches, and radiation falls by a factor of 16.
  • Save the non-essential chit chat for a land line and keep your cell phone calls short and to the important point.
  • Don't keep your cell phone in a pocket or on a belt clip. Stash yours away from your body.
  • Don't make calls when signal strength is one bar or less -- phones emit more radiation to overcome poor signals.
  • Resist your kids' cries for cell phone ownership and limit their use of the technology to emergencies.

photo: mark sebastian


philipjfry picture
It seems like the FCC has done exactly what they should. In years past it was uncertain if there was a connection between cell phone signals and cancer due to the transmitters close proximity to the body. And, as such, the FCC kept the disclaimer due to the unknown link. However, over the years, more and more published studies have failed to find a connection between cell phones and cancer resulting in the removal of the FCC's warning. I think there's an oversight these days that people are living longer. This in itself is probably a more significant cause of cancer than cell phones. Wireless communications have been around for many decades now and yet the average lifespan of industrialized countries has been increasing. Come to think of it, average lifespans have increased along with wireless communication technology. Maybe we need wireless implants to live longer? Like something that could regulate a weak heart but still wirelessly communicate outside of the body? Anyways, I would trust the FCC more than any loose scattering of information I could find on the internet. Say what you will about the government, but I do generally believe that they try to do what is best for society. They certainly have gotten things wrong, but based on the evidence currently out there I have no reason to fear cell phones. A quick peruse through Google Scholar found that an overwhelming majority of the published papers found no effect on mammal brains after long term exposure to GSM (mobile phone) signals. In the worst case, some rats experienced symptoms similar to heat stroke. I did go through the paper referenced previously about the BBB (blood brain barrier) and oddly enough, according to that study, they found more significant BBB damage from lower levels of GSM radiation (lower SAR ratings). According to them, cell phones emitting lower levels of radiation did more damage. Now, I couldn't find this study in a published journal and I am not sure of the background as to who peer reviewed it (if it was at all). So do we need to give up FM radios, atomic clocks, cordless phones, anything wi-fi, cell phones, smart meters, microwaves, ham and cb radios, satellites, power induction and sunlight too? Why have cell phones become such a hot topic? Seventh Generation's last point on the list I will agree with. Kids have enough distractions with everyday life, they don't need a cell phone thrown in there too. Probably just end up giving your kids some repediative stress injury from all the texting.
hi picture
SAFETY standards in Canada are based on "standard Anthropomorphic Man" a 6 foot 2 200 pound man with a 11 pound head. Please use landline and answer machine where possible instead of mobile phone or wifi- and turn OFF your mobile/wifi/DECT phone (unplug the wifi/DECT) when not in use, it will emit RF constantly even when you are not talking. specifically http://www.magdahavas.com/2010/09/27/disconnect-the-corruption-of-science/
dcstalzer picture
Thank you for the points to observe when using cell phones. Another significant issue which is gaining attention and sparking action among those affected,is the proliferation of cell towers. The electromagnetic radiation (EMR) the towers emit reach us all pasively. That is to say, one needn't be using a cell phone or other wireless device to be hit by the towers' effects. The effects, while not recognized by the Federal Government nor it's agencies, cause debilitating health conditions for many. These effects have led to homelessness for those of us who have no resistance to the electromagnetic radiation emitted from the towers. It is difficult to find a safe haven from the towers' reach. Note that many of the existing towers will soon be modified from 3G to 4G, creating a huge increase in radiation emmissions. The modification is being made to accomodate the power draw required by iPhone and other like devices. Go to www.whyfry.org for more information on the EMR affect on DNA and the weaking of the human blood/brain barrier, one of the most important safe guards for the human body.
burgel picture
The FCC change is very reasonable -- and welcome. While there may be debate (and fear-mongering), the science is that there is no evidence that cell phones cause cancer. No credible study. The simple physics is that the frequencies used by cell phones are far below the threshold for causing damage to cell DNA. For example Ultraviolet radiation is at much much higher frequency, and X-rays much higher still. The issue has been adequately studied. Same goes for powerlines -- the electromagnetic radiation is at much too low of a frequency to cause genetic damage that leads to cancer. So, please do not worry too much about cell phones -- there are more important, and real, dangers out there.