The Washington Post

Lawmakers urge federal review of cell pho

Democratic lawmakers on Wednesday asked the Government Accountability Office to review federal research and regulations on cell phone safety after a panel of international scientists warned that wireless devices may be carcinogenic.

Reps. Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) and Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.) said that nearly a decade as passed since the federal government’s last comprehensive report on cell phone safety. That report was used for device radiation standards at the Federal Communications Commission and for studies at the National Institutes of Health and the Food and Drug Administration.

On Tuesday, the World Health Organization concluded that radio frequencies from cell phones could be carcinogenic, like talcum powder, based on findings of higher rates of glioma, a malignant brain tumor, among heavy users.

“The announcement ... makes clear that additional research is needed to fully understand the long-term impact of mobile phone use on the human body, particularly in children, whose brains and nervous systems are still developing,” Markey said.

Specifically, the lawmakers asked GAO to review the status of research on health risks related to long-term cellphone use.

They also want a review of the FCC’s guidelines on cell phone safety and the basis for recommendations in user manuals for the iPhone and other major devices that instruct users to hold their phones away from their bodies when making calls.

The Nokia 1100, for instance, warns that the phone meets radio-frequency guidelines only when it is held at least 1.5 centimeters from the body. Motorola recommends keeping the antenna of a device at least 2.5 centimeters (1 inch) from the body. BlackBerry warns that one of its devices "SHOULD NOT be worn or carried on the body" without a BlackBerry-approved belt clip.

Related stories:

Cell phones possibly carcinogenic, World Health Organization says

Cell phone study shows one hour of cell phone use increases brain activity

Cell phone companies attack San Francisco ordinance on cell phone safety labels

Cecilia Kang is a senior technology correspondent for The Washington Post.



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