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MOBILE TELECOMMUNICATIONS HEALTH AND SAFETY NEWS

Harmonise mobile phone radiation safety standards, industry tells US review


FCC2Exposure limits for mobile phone and base station signals should be changed in the US to bring the country in line with the international safety standards adopted by most other countries - including Australia – the mobile phone industry has told the US communications regulator.

 
In a submissions to the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) Notice of Inquiry into national radiofrequency exposure limits, global industry bodies the GSMA and the MMF said the US should adopt the international safety standards recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO).
 
The major change would be to the way mobile phone radiofrequency exposure is measured in SAR tests from the FCC’s current 1.6 W/kg (watts per kilogram) measured over one gram of tissue to the WHO recommended 2.0 W/kg averaged over 10g.
 
The MMF and GSMA submissions were two of more than 400 received by the FCC in response to the regulators request for feedback on whether the country should change its safety standards for the first time since being established in 1996.
 
“With regards to the FCC’s exposure standards, the MMF submits that the scientific basis of these is now more than 20 years old and the rationale for continuing to maintain two separate standards in a world that has in the main adopted the guidelines set by the International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP) is increasingly difficult to justify,” the MMF said in their submission.
 
“On the contrary, there is very strong policy,  practical and scientific grounds to justify an alignment with these international guidelines.”
 
The MMF said both the ICNIRP and IEEE safety standards represented “a very conservative framework for the protection  of persons exposed to RF fields.”
 
“From the substantial safety margin inherent in the standards themselves, through to the specificity of SAR measurement protocols and how the devices are tested compared to how they typically operate, the result is a very conservative framework suitable for widespread adoption.”
 
GSMA Senior Director of Research and Sustainability Dr Jack Rowley said that while the current FCC limits were considered by health authorities to protect the public against all established health hazards from exposure to mobile signals, the ICNIRP/IEEE standards are based on more recent scientific evidence and represented an internationally harmonised approach.
 
“The GSMA agrees with the FCC that examination of any potential changes to the exposure limits must be ‘science-based’,” Dr Rowley said in the GSMA.
 
“As an international trade association the GSMA generally supports harmonisation of technical standards as providing significant consumer benefits. The GSMA recommends that the FCC consider the scientific rationale of the IEEE Committee in C95.1, 2005 and the ICNIRP and examine the present FCC partial body SAR limit to consider alignment with the internationally harmonised value of 2 W/kg measured in 10 g.”
 
Dr Rowley said that to his knowledge currently 115 countries use the ICNIRP limits as the basis of national exposure standards for mobile devices and 105 for mobile phone networks, while only nine countries follow the FCC limits for mobile networks and thirteen for mobile devices.
 
The submissions warned the FCC against the adoption of arbitrary exposure limits in an attempt to ease public concern about the safety of mobile phone networks.
 
“The WHO have said that science-based exposure limits should not be undermined by the adoption of arbitrary limits and research has shown that extra precautionary measures usually have the opposite effect on public perception,” Dr Rowley said.
 
“This has been the outcome in India where exposure limits were lowered to 10 times below the ICNIRP guidelines in 2012 but had failed to reassure concerned citizens, instead it has reinforced a perception that the science-based limits are not safe.”
 
Similar problems had resulted in Brussels, where arbitrary exposure limits on mobile networks had severely restricted the ability of mobile operators to provide adequate network coverage.
 
Published 6 November 2013

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