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'Remains to be Seen'

RF Safety Advocates Urge FCC to Hire New Experts, Build Revised Record

The Environmental Health Trust (EHT) and allies plan a push at the FCC in coming months to get the agency to take a deeper look at the health risks of RF, in the aftermath of Friday’s U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit remand of 2019 RF safety rules to the FCC for further work (see 2108130073). The group, during a call with reporters Monday, urged the FCC to accept new evidence as it addresses the remand.

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Neither the FCC nor the Food and Drug Administration has on staff the experts needed on RF safety, said Devra Davis, EHT president, urging regulators to bring in “independent experts … without corporate ties” and “consult more broadly.” The FCC “can’t get away with just more words on this,” she said: “They actually have to establish a reasoned record of rational decision-making.” The group said the government should emphasize wireline over wireless deployments if the government funds infrastructure.

It is absolutely false to say that 5G is going to bridge the digital divide,” Davis said: “5G is a marketing plan to make people buy 5G phones, 5G routers, 5G devices.” EHT hopes the Biden FCC will “take a look at all the information that the old captured FCC ignored,” she said. The agency didn’t comment.

What approach the FCC will take “remains to be seen,” but it has to “provide a reasonable explanation for whatever decisions it makes,” said Edward Myers, lawyer for EHT. “It may establish a brand new docket. It may reopen the old docket,” he said. The agency is likely to release a public notice inviting evidence, he said. “Given the time that has passed since the record was compiled, beginning in 2013” and the new administration, “it would not surprise me if the FCC reopens the record,” he said.

We need an environmental review for the massive 5G deployment and … small-cell proliferation,” said Theodora Scarato, EHT executive director. “The wireless industry has made Big Tobacco look like a mom-and-pop shop with the tactics that have been engaged in to downplay the science,” Scarato said.

Similar to the pharmaceutical and other industries, the companies that benefit from bringing a product to market should have to prove they’re safe, said Frank Clegg, former president of Microsoft Canada, now an RF safety advocate. The telecom industry’s “free ride must end where all they have to do is say that they meet federal guidelines,” he said: “Our current … use of wireless devices is not safe.” The rest of the world will be watching what the FCC does next on RF safety, Clegg said.

EHT officials said they plan to send Biden an updated version of an April letter seeking an administration focus on RF safety. That letter said health effects include “increased brain, breast and thyroid cancer risk, cellular stress, genetic damage, harm to the reproductive system, learning and memory deficits, behavioral problems, neurological effects, damage to brain development, headaches, and various impacts to wellbeing.”