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United States – Policy Recommendations On Cell Phones, Wireless Radiation & Health

May 17, 2017

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“I believe the American people deserve to know what the health effects are…We are flying blind here on health and safety”.

– Senator Richard Blumenthal on 5G

In a Senate Commerce hearing, Senator Blumenthal asked what research had been done on the safety of 5G technology. The answer was none.

The FCC states hundreds of thousands of “small” cells are needed for 5G, yet no health or environmental review was ever done by the FCC nor any US health and safety agency.

Policymakers are taking the time to learn more about 5G and cell phone radiation. EHT  has compiled some of the latest state and local policies on 5G as well as the rich history of policy on cell phone radiation in this country.

US States Launch Commissions To Investigate the Safety of 5G 

New Hampshire passed a bill that established a commission to study the environmental and health effects of 5G technology.  

Oregon has passed SB 283  requiring the Oregon Health Authority to review peer-reviewed, independently funded scientific studies of the health effects of exposure to microwave radiation, particularly exposure that results from the use of wireless network technologies in schools. 

Louisiana  Bill HR 145 requests the Department of Environmental Quality and Department of Health study the effects of evolving 5G technology.  

READ MORE ABOUT US POLICY ON 5G

Legal Action Against the FCC

Hundreds of US cities have filed legal action against the FCC for stripping their authority to regulate  “small” cells. Montgomery County MD is suing because the FCC is pushing 5G but no research review was completed.

USA Right To Know Legislation 

Berkeley California Cell Phone Right to Know 

May 12, 2015

Berkeley Adopted the Cell Phone “Right to Know” Ordinance on a unanimous vote. Berkeley is the first city in the nation to require cell phone retailers to provide those who purchase a new phone an informational fact sheet which states:

“The City of Berkeley requires that you be provided the following notice: To assure safety, the Federal Government requires that cell phones meet radio frequency (RF) exposure guidelines. If you carry or use your phone in pants or shirt pocket or tucked into a bra when the phone is ON and connected to a wireless network, you may exceed the federal guidelines for exposure to RF radiation. Refer to the instructions in your phone or user manual for information about how to use your phone safely.”

The Wireless industry sued and the ordinance so far has withstood legal challenges up to the US Supreme Court.  Read more about Berkeley’s Right To Know Ordinance 

US Congress

2008 & 2009 Congressional  Hearings on Cell Phone Radiation 

Federal Cell Phone Right To Know Act H.R. 6358

Proposed but not passed

H.R. 6358 received strong support from the American Academy of Pediatrics. It is a model piece of legislation for the USA. It called for labeling phones at the point of sale, a national research program directed by NIEHS and the EPA, and the development of proper safety limits. Read MORE. 

 

San Francisco California Cell Phone Right To Know Ordinance 

2010/2011: A Passed Ordinance by the City of San Francisco required cell phone retailers to distribute educational factsheets created by the San Francisco Department of Environment that explains radiofrequency emissions from cell phones and details how consumers can minimize their exposure. San Francisco developed the following public health information resources:

However, implementation was blocked after a three-year court battle. The CTIA wireless industry sued the city and settled with the City to block implementation of the Ordinance in exchange for a waiver of attorney’s’ fees. Although implementation was halted, the City website recommends reducing exposure.  

 

2014 Greenbelt, Maryland City Council 

The Greenbelt Council voted to distribute information on cell phone radiation, write the FCC and oppose cell towers on school grounds.  

2014 Suffolk New York

Wireless Router Labeling in all Suffolk, NY Public buildings

Legislation requires all county buildings to post notices that wireless routers are in use such as, “Notice: Wireless technology in use.” The resolution, sponsored by Legis. William Spencer (a physician), warns that every wireless device emits radio frequency radiation or microwave radiation. It notes that studies “that have looked at the effects of low-level RFR radiation on human cells and DNA have been inconclusive.”

Cell Phone Radiation Proclamations 

Pembroke Pines, Florida Resolution on Wireless Radiation 2012

The resolution expresses the City’s “Urgent Concerns” about Wireless Radiation, encourages citizens to read their manuals, and presents information on how to reduce exposure by using a headset or speakerphone. Jimmy Gonzalez, an attorney who had developed brain cancer after heavy cell use, petitioned the Commission to pass this resolution. READ MORE

 

Jackson Hole, Wyoming A Proclamation of Cell Phone Awareness 2012/2010  

The proclamation declared October “Cell Phone Radiation Awareness Month” and cites concern over long term health effects as well as the increased risk that the radiation poses to children. 2012 and 2010 Signed Proclamation READ MORE 

 

Governor of Colorado Proclamation on Electrical Hypersensitivity (2009)

  • “Electromagnetic Sensitivity is a painful chronic illness of hypersensitive reactions to electromagnetic radiations….WHEREAS, Electromagnetic Sensitivity is recognized by the Americans with Disabilities Act, the US Access Board, and numerous commissions;” Original Proclamation

Governor of Connecticut issued a Proclamation on Electrical Hypersensitivity. (2009)

  • “WHEREAS, the health of the general population is at risk from electromagnetic exposures that can lead to illness indicted by electromagnetic radiations;” Original Proclamation

Broward County, Florida; The Mayor issued a Proclamation on Electrical Hypersensitivity (2009)

  • “WHEREAS, as a result of global electromagnetic pollution, people of all ages in Broward County and throughout the world have developed an illness known as Electromagnetic Sensitivity…” Original Proclamation 

California: Burlingame California City Council (2010) included cell phone safety guidelines in their Healthy Living in Burlingame initiative which gives recommendations on how to reduce exposure and to read the fine print. Read the Original Burlingame City Guidelines 

Maine, Portland Mayor Mavodenes, Jr. declared October  “Cell Phone Awareness Month” 2011  Original Proclamation 

 

2010 Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

On December 2, 2010, the Philadelphia City Council passed a resolution (PDF) that authorized the Committee on Public Health and Human Services “to hold hearings on the potential health risks from cell phone radiation and the actions the city of Philadelphia can take to better educate all cell phone users, particularly children and teens, on ways to reduce radiation exposure by using headsets, speakerphones, and texting.”

 

Laws to Restrict Electromagnetic Radiation Exposure 

 

California Regulations to Limit ELF-EMF Near Schools 

The California Department of Education enacted regulations in the California Code of Regulations, Title 5, Section 14010 that require minimum distances between a new school and the edge of a transmission line “right-of-way.” The setback distances are 100 feet for 50-133 kV lines, 150 feet for 220-230 kV lines, and 350 feet for 500-550 kV lines. 

United States Limits on ELF-EMF

Although the US has no federal limit on ELF, 6 states have ELF exposure limits for various situations  – Florida, Minnesota, Montana, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, and several states have a prudent avoidance policy. 

Prudent Avoidance 

  • California: requirement to include EMF reduction measures in new power-line projects up to 5% of project cost, plus specific provisions for schools
  • Colorado, Maryland: prudent avoidance decided through a specific siting case which set precedent and was subsequently applied to all new siting applications
  • New Jersey: more of a practice than a policy
  • Connecticut, Hawaii: formal policy
  • Ohio: requires utilities to “prudently address” EMF issues
  • Pennsylvania: staff handling siting applications expect evidence of prudent avoidance but has never been set down as formal policy

Note: Information on ELF in the US was sourced from emfs.info which is a website of the power companies that tracks policy. 

 

An Important History: Proposed State Laws 

2014 – The Maine LD 1013 “The Wireless Information Act”

 

Oregon 2015 Oregon HB 3350 

Massachusetts 2017 Bills

2017: Three Massachusetts Senators and one Representative introduced bills to examine wireless radiation and protect the public. Click here for details.

  • S.1268 Resolve creating a special commission to examine the health impacts of electromagnetic fields (Senator Karen E. Spilka).
  • S.1864 An Act relative to utilities, smart meters, and ratepayers’ rights (gives people the no-fee choice of keeping their non-radiation-emitting water, gas and electrical meters instead of “smart” utility meters; Senator Michael O. Moore).
  • S.107 An Act relative to disclosure of radiofrequency notifications (requires warning labels on radiation-emitting products; Senator Julian Cyr).
  • S.108 An Act relative to the safe use of hand-held devices by children (requires specific language on packaging as modeled by an ordinance unanimously passed in Berkeley, California; Senator Julian Cyr).
  • H.2030 An Act relative to best management practices for wireless in schools and public institutions of higher education (asks the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education to set wi-fi standards for all schools; Representative Carolyn Dykema).
  • 2016 1222 An Act creating a special commission to study the health impacts of electromagnetic fields
  • 2015 Bill H2007: An Act relative to a special commission to study electric and magnetic fields. Bills Still in Process as of August 2015. Watch statehouse briefing 

2014 – Hawaii  Senate Bill SB 2571: Senate bill was introduced calling for a warning labels. 

2011 – California proposed legislation SB 932: would have required retailers to include notices on product packaging that cell phones emit radio frequency (RF) energy. A second notice would be posted at the point of sale when purchasing online or in a physical store.

2011 – New Mexico Proposed Law HM 32 requests the Department of Health and the Department of Environment to study and review all available literature and reports on the effects of cell phone radiation on human health.

2011 – Pennsylvania Proposed Law HB 1408 would require warning labels on cell phones “to inform all citizens about possible health dangers that have been linked to microwave radiation that is emitted by cellular telephones and the steps that can be taken to mitigate those dangers, especially as they relate to children and pregnant women.”

2011- Oregon Proposed Law SB 679  would require warning labels for all new cell phones and cell phone packaging. News video

EPA Reports

EPA Defunded in 1995 from setting safety limits.

1995 US Senate Defunds EPA

 “The Senate Committee on Appropriations has cut $350,000 from the Environmental Protection Agency’s EMF budget, because “The committee believes EPA should not engage in EMF activities.” In a report (September 13, No. 104-140), the committee stated: “Section 2118 of the Energy Policy Act of 1992 established a federal program to investigate and report on human health effects from [EMFs]. Congress mandated that this program of research and public communication be managed jointly by the Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Energy. No programmatic role was assigned to EPA, yet EPA has pursued a number of unintegrated activities on EMFs that are of questionable value.” BEMS

 

 

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