The consensus of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the World Health Organization, and other major health agencies is that the research to date does not show radiofrequency energy emitted from mobile phones has harmful health effects, but there is not yet enough information to conclude that they pose no risk. Although most of the epidemiological and laboratory studies done on this issue have found no adverse health effects, the findings of some studies have raised questions about cancer and other health problems that require further study. The Cellular Telecommunication & Internet Association (CTIA) and FDA will jointly conduct research on mobile phone health affects. Although the initiative is funded solely by CTIA, FDA's active role in setting the research agenda and providing scientific oversight should help alleviate concerns about the objectivity of the report. The media has widely reported on the debate over whether mobile phones can cause health problems. Thus, the federal government's role in providing the public with clear information on this issue is particularly important. FDA has a consumer information update on mobile phone health issues but has not revised that data since October 1999. Consequently FDA does not discuss the significance of major, recently published research studies that have been reported in the press. FDA said that it has not revised the update because the scientific picture has not changed significantly.
Recommendations for Executive Action
|Federal Communications Commission||1. The Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission should direct the Office of Engineering and Technology to issue revised guidance on Specific Absorption Rate (SAR) testing procedures to reduce variations in test results caused by a lack of standardized procedures. This guidance should be kept current as industry standards evolve.|
|Federal Communications Commission||2. The Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission should direct the Office of Engineering and Technology to consult with FDA on the advisability of adopting FDA's method of incorporating measurement uncertainty in determining compliance with radiofrequency safety limits, and make the results of this communication publicly available.|
|Federal Communications Commission||3. The Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission should direct the Consumer Information Bureau and the Office of Engineering and Technology to work together to develop clear, consistent, and easily accessible consumer materials on mobile phone radiofrequency exposure issues. In particular, these offices should modify the product authorization database Web site so that it links consumers to clear, concise information on radiofrequency exposure issues and the meaning of SAR data.|
|Federal Communications Commission||4. The Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission take the following actions: Direct the Office of Managing Director, as part of human capital planning, to develop a strategy for meeting the need for additional expertise in radiofrequency exposure and testing issues.|
|Food and Drug Administration||5. The Administrator of the Food and Drug Administration should direct the Center for Devices and Radiological Health to publicly report on the extent to which CTIA is following FDA's recommendations in choosing and funding the specific research proposals conducted under the cooperative research and development agreement between FDA and CTIA.|
|Food and Drug Administration||6. The Administrator of the Food and Drug Administration should direct the Center for Devices and Radiological Health to develop a new consumer update document that provides a current overview of the status of health issues and research related to mobile phones. Because the industry trade association requires manufacturers to include the text of this document in the packaging of mobile phones that it certifies, the document should be written with a broad consumer audience in mind. Given the fast pace of developments on these issues, FDA should revise this document as significant research and policy events occur.|