It is a momentous win for Environmental Health Trust (EHT) and other health advocates pushing for amendments to the decades-old safety guidelines on wireless radiation of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).
Just this August, the D.C. Court of Appeals ruled in favor of the health groups on the matter of the FCC closing forthwith in 2019 the Notice of Inquiry (NOI) it issued in 2013 (Environmental Health Trust, et al. v. FCC). According to the petitioners, the FCC contorted its authority by dismissing the arguments to the decades-old limits for human exposure to the wireless radiation. Petitioners believe that this was done without sufficiently addressing the thousands of comments filed by different individuals and health advocates.
Facts of the Case
Back in March 2013, the FCC issued the NOI and solicited comments on the following:
- Aptness of the modifications on the exposure limits to radiofrequency (RF) radiation, especially on children
- Ways to improve how consumers are educated on RF exposure;
- If there is a need to promote new measures other than the RF limits; and
- Amendments on how the FCC assesses the compliance of devices and facilities to the RF limits
Thousands of comments were filed and reported to the FCC in response to the NOI. However, the FCC decided to shut it down in 2019 without implementing any changes to its RF safety regulations. As a result, petitions for review were filed.
The D.C. Circuit held that the FCC failed to provide feedback to present pieces of evidence that RF exposure below the 1996 limits may result in non-cancer health effects, or to the reports and scientific papers correlating RF exposure to cancer. In addition, the court said that the respondent fell short in addressing the repercussions of long-term RF exposure to children, growth and development, the wildlife and environment, and the attestations from people who were harmed by RF. Moreover, the court is directing the FCC to substantiate its decision to maintain the 1996 ruling on safety limits to RF radiation; address the effects of RF on children and the environment; and provide data on technological advancements that have risen over the past two decades.
What are the Health Experts and Advocates Saying
According to Theodora Scarato MSW, the verdict should be a wake-up call to everyone. Federal agencies have been diminishing the health implications of long-term exposure to RF radiation for years. “We need an investigation of how our country ended up in this situation and a federal action plan to ensure it never happens again. It is imperative that our federal agencies immediately act to protect human health and the environment,” she added. “The FCC must now admit that its 25-year-old exposure guidelines are bogus,” said Cindy Franklin of Consumers for Safe Cell Phones. Instead of doing what they were mandated to do, federal regulatory agencies have failed to safeguard consumers to the harmful effects of R radiation.
Devra Davis PhD, MPH, President Environmental Health Trust, conveyed that while the ruling is triumphant, a Congressional hearing must ensue to guarantee that it will never happen again.
“The U.S. needs a federal action plan on the issue of wireless radiation that should be informed by the latest science showing that current levels of radiation can damage human health and the environment.”