TR Daily News: FCC Ignored Health Impacts of Inadequate RF Limits,(Jul. 30, 2020)

Reprinted with permission from TR Daily. Do NOT reprint without permission from TR Daily

In adopting an item last year maintaining its existing radio frequency (RF) exposure limits, the FCC ignored a huge amount of evidence that the standards are not adequately protecting the public from negative health impact of RF emissions, according to a brief filed late last night in the U.S. Courts of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit by a number of parties challenging the Commission’s decision.

“The FCC received an enormous number of peer-reviewed scientific and medical studies, analyses, and reports demonstrating a consensus of the scientific community that radiofrequency radiation is harmful and sometimes lethal to individuals and the environment. The record also contains numerous statements from many individuals who must live day-by-day suffering these harms,” said the brief, which was filed in “Environmental Health Trust et al. v. FCC” (consolidated cases beginning at 20-1025). “The factual record in this case is strong. Yet the Order gives no consideration to most of the evidence presented to it. By perpetuating a situation that is proven to constitute a threat to public health and safety, the FCC has failed to meet its statutory obligation under the Communications Act to protect public health and safety.”

In the item released last December, the FCC resolved a notice of inquiry adopted in 2013 and also adopted a second report and order, notice of proposed rulemaking, and memorandum opinion and order in ET dockets 03-137, 13-84, and 19-226 (TR Daily, Dec. 4, 2019). The proceeding marked the first review of the agency’s RF standards since they were adopted in 1996.

In resolving the NOI, the FCC said, “After reviewing the extensive record submitted in response to that inquiry, we find no appropriate basis for and thus decline to propose amendments to our existing limits at this time. We take to heart the findings of the Food & Drug Administration (FDA), an expert agency regarding the health impacts of consumer products, that ‘[t]he weight of scientific evidence has not linked cell phones with any health problems.’ Despite requests from some to increase and others to decrease the existing limits, we believe they reflect the best available information concerning safe levels of RF exposure for workers and members of the general public, including inputs from our sister federal agencies charged with regulating safety and health and from well-established international standards.”

But the brief filed yesterday said the FCC’s RF limits are woefully inadequate. The document was filed by parties that submitted petitions for review earlier this year.

One petition for review was filed in the D.C. Circuit by the EHT; Consumers for Safe Cell Phones; and two individuals who say that RF emissions have harmed them (TR Daily, Feb. 5). The other petition for review was filed in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit (San Francisco) by Children’s Health Defense, physicians, and parents who say their children were harmed by wireless emissions (TR Daily, Feb. 4). The cases were consolidated in the D.C. Circuit.

The brief filed yesterday said the Commission has “failed to [engage] in reasoned decision-making and to base its decision on substantial evidence and has acted in an arbitrary and capricious manner in violation the Administrative Procedure Act. An agency cannot lawfully ignore material evidence simply because the evidence presents a position with which the agency may disagree.

“The decision to terminate the Inquiry is a major federal action that could significantly affect the human environment and, therefore, the decision was subject to the procedural requirements of NEPA [National Environmental Policy Act]. Yet the FCC did not take the hard look at the range of possible adverse environmental effects of its decision required by NEPA. Nor did it consider the relevant evidence in the record of likely environmental harm. As a consequence, the agency violated NEPA,” according to the petitioners.

“The FCC also erred because it did not consider the evidence in the record of many individuals suffering the effects of unavoidable exposure to radiofrequency radiation. The agency simply ignored the ills and challenges faced by individuals who are especially susceptible to Radiation Sickness,” the brief alleged. “In so doing, the FCC begged the question of whether the agency has a responsibility under the ADA [Americans with Disabilities Act], the FHA [Federal Housing Act], and the United States Constitution to develop a remedy that would address the ills being visited upon these people.”

The brief said the 14 petitioners have standing to challenge the FCC’s item because it “caused each of them particularized and concrete injury-in-fact that would likely be redressed by a favorable decision.”

During a call with reporters this afternoon, EHT representatives highlighted aspects of the brief, including to criticism that the FDA has not cited any scientific evidence in its conclusion on the safety of cellphones. They also complained that the FCC has failed to consider evidence that RF emissions can have a more severe impact on children.

“The U.S. government today is relying on outdated science,” said EHT President Devra Davis. “The American public is not being adequately protected.” —Paul Kirby,  

TelecomRegulation: FCC FederalNews

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