US Government adopts safe 5G − Mobile phone limits in the USA and its Scientific Discourse

US Government adopts safe 5G − Mobile phone limits in the USA and its Scientific Discourse

New Safe 5G Act in the USA − On Monday, 23 March 2020, the President of the USA signed the “Secure 5G and Beyond Act of 2020”. Among other things, it requires the development of a strategy to ensure and maximize the security of the next-generation (5G) mobile telecommunications infrastructure and systems in the United States. What developments is the government’s legislative announcement based upon? To answer the question, we provide an overview below of previous regulations of radiation protection limits in the USA and the current discourse in science and research on this topic.

Mobile phone limits in the USA

Who regulates the guidelines?

There are binding regulations for high-frequency electromagnetic radiation worldwide. In the USA, the current applicable mobile phone limits set by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in 1996 are based upon the recommendations of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE). These are comparable with the 1998 ICNIRP guidelines that are valid in Germany. 

Federal Communications Commission (FCC)

The Federal Communications Commission regulates interstate and international communication via radio, TV and satellite in all 50 states of the USA. As an independent government agency overseen by Congress, the Commission is responsible for implementing U.S. American communications laws and regulations.

The FCC Regulation

On 4 December 2019, the Federal Communications Commission published a regulation on electromagnetic radiation. The following decisive specifications were introduced in it. The Federal Communications Commission:

  • acknowledges that mobile phones are capable of producing emissions that exceed the FCC exposure limits for physical contact, and may thus cause health risks;
  • rejects an update of its 1996 exposure limits for humans in the USA;
  • considers it “unnecessary” to update the assessment procedures for testing mobile phones for radiation emissions in the immediate vicinity of the body;
  • does not accept the results of the NTP Study which considers cancer and DNA damage to be the consequences of mobile phone radiation. The reason: the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a statement that was not consistent with the NTP conclusions;
  • refuses to update regulations to take into account the particular vulnerability of children to high-frequency radiation;
  • suggests that the current limits can be safely applied to 5G in the USA.

Scientific discourse on 5G in the USA

Environmental Health Trust (EHT) litigation

Environmental Health Trust, a group of scientists, charitable organizations in the field of consumer health, and citizens, filed a historic lawsuit against the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) on 31 January 2020. The reason was named FCC regulation in which the Commission refused to update its 24-year-old guidelines on mobile phones and wireless radio frequency radiation. The appeal was featured in detail in Law and Crime, a well-known U.S. American website reporting on high-profile court cases.

Grounds and support of the action

In the legal petition, the EHT stated that the FCC regulation is “arbitrary, capricious, an abuse of discretion […] and not in conformity with the law”. The reason: the FCC violates the Administrative Procedure Act and the National Environment Law by failing to adequately review hundreds of relevant scientific studies that identified harmful effects of wireless technologies. For instance, the FCC ignores government tests such as the NTP Study that shows that 3G and 4G cause cancer. Significant scientific research performed by other countries has also been ignored. This includes the French government’s measurements of mobile phone radiation near the body of hundreds of mobile phone models, published in 2016. In 2019, an analysis of French mobile phone tests published in the journal of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) found that some radio frequency measurements exceed the FCC limits by 11 times.

Criticism of the FCC limits

The independent scientists at EHT consider the FCC limits to be obsolete because they:

  • are based only on protection against the effects of warming, not on biological effects of non-heating;
  • are based on short-term exposure studies, not on long-term chronic exposure;
  • do not take into account the particular vulnerability of children;
  • do not consider any effects on flora and fauna.

Waveguard – your partner for all aspects of electromagnetic radiation

You can follow up on the latest developments on the subject of electromagnetic radiation in our Waveguard Blog and on our homepage. Here you can find background information on the new 5G technology, the radiation protection limits for mobile phones and co. which are classified as harmless by Germany, as well as the options of your personal radiation protection. Do you have any questions about radiation caused by communication technology or your individual protection against it? Please contact us!


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