A p p e n d i c e s
that have responsibility for different aspects of RF safety to ensure coordinated efforts at the federal level. The following agencies belong to this working group: National
Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Environmental Protection Agency Federal Communications Commission Occupational Safety and Health Administration
National Telecommunications and Information Administration The National Institutes of Health participates in some interagency working group activities, as well. FDA
shares regulatory responsibilities for wireless phones with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). All phones that are sold in the United States must comply
with FCC safety guidelines that limit RF exposure. FCC relies on FDA and other health agencies for safety questions about wireless phones. FCC also regulates the base
stations that the wireless phone networks rely upon. While these base stations operate at higher power than do the wireless phones themselves, the RF exposures that
people get from these base stations are typically thousands of times lower than those they can get from wireless phones. Base stations are thus not the subject of the safety
questions discussed in this document.
What kinds of phones are the subject of this update? The term wireless phone refers here to hand held wireless phones with built in antennas, often called cell mobile or
PCS phones. These types of wireless phones can expose the user to measurable radiofrequency energy (RF) because of the short distance between the phone and the user's
head. These RF exposures are limited by Federal Communications Commission safety guidelines that were developed with the advice of FDA and other federal health
and safety agencies. When the phone is located at greater distances from the user, the exposure to RF is drastically lower because a person s RF exposure decreases rapidly
with increasing distance from the source. The so called cordless phones; which have a base unit connected to the telephone wiring in a house, typically operate at far lower
power levels, and thus produce RF exposures far below the FCC safety limits.
What are the results of the research done already? The research done thus far has produced conflicting results, and many studies have suffered from flaws in their research
methods. Animal experiments investigating the effects of radiofrequency energy (RF) exposures characteristic of wireless phones have yielded conflicting results that
often cannot be repeated in other laboratories. A few animal studies, however, have suggested that low levels of RF could accelerate the development of cancer in laboratory
animals. However, many of the studies that showed increased tumor development used animals that had been genetically engineered or treated with cancer causing
chemicals so as to be pre disposed to develop cancer in the absence of RF exposure. Other studies exposed the animals to RF for up to 22 hours per day. These conditions
are not similar to the conditions under which people use wireless phones, so we don't know with certainty what the results of such studies mean for human health. Three
large epidemiology studies have been published since December 2000. Between them, the studies investigated any possible association between the use of wireless phones
and primary brain cancer, glioma, meningioma, or acoustic neuroma, tumors of the brain or salivary gland, leukemia, or other cancers. None of the studies demonstrated
the existence of any harmful health effects from wireless phone RF exposures. However, none of the studies can answer questions about long term exposures, since the
average period of phone use in these studies was around three years.
What research is needed to decide whether RF exposure from wireless phones poses a health risk? A combination of laboratory studies and epidemiological studies of
people actually using wireless phones would provide some of the data that are needed. Lifetime animal exposure studies could be completed in a few years. However,
very large numbers of animals would be needed to provide reliable proof of a cancer promoting effect if one exists. Epidemiological studies can provide data that is directly
applicable to human populations, but 10 or more years follow up may be needed to provide answers about some health effects, such as cancer. This is because the interval
between the time of exposure to a cancer causing agent and the time tumors develop if they do may be many, many years. The interpretation of epidemiological studies
is hampered by difficulties in measuring actual RF exposure during day to day use of wireless phones. Many factors affect this measurement, such as the angle at which
the phone is held, or which model of phone is used.
What is FDA doing to find out more about the possible health effects of wireless phone RF? FDA is working with the U.S. National Toxicology Program and with groups
of investigators around the world to ensure that high priority animal studies are conducted to address important questions about the effects of exposure to radiofrequency
energy (RF). FDA has been a leading participant in the World Health Organization International Electromagnetic Fields (EMF) Project since its inception in 1996. An
influential result of this work has been the development of a detailed agenda of research needs that has driven the establishment of new research programs around the
world. The Project has also helped develop a series of public information documents on EMF issues. FDA and the Cellular Telecommunications & Internet Association
(CTIA) have a formal Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA) to do research on wireless phone safety. FDA provides the scientific oversight,
obtaining input from experts in government, industry, and academic organizations. CTIA funded research is conducted through contracts to independent investigators.
The initial research will include both laboratory studies and studies of wireless phone users. The CRADA will also include a broad assessment of additional research needs
in the context of the latest research developments around the world.
How can I find out how much radiofrequency energy exposure I can get by using my wireless phone? All phones sold in the United States must comply with Federal
Communications Commission (FCC) guidelines that limit radiofrequency energy (RF) exposures. FCC established these guidelines in consultation with FDA and the other
federal health and safety agencies. The FCC limit for RF exposure from wireless telephones is set at a Specific Absorption Rate (SAR) of 1.6 watts per kilogram (1.6 W/
kg). The FCC limit is consistent with the safety standards developed by the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineering (IEEE) and the National Council on Radiation
Protection and Measurement. The exposure limit takes into consideration the body's ability to remove heat from the tissues that absorb energy from the wireless phone
and is set well below levels known to have effects. Manufacturers of wireless phones must report the RF exposure level for each model of phone to the FCC. The FCC
website (http://www.fcc.gov/oet/rfsafety) gives directions for locating the FCC identification number on your phone so you can find your phone's RF exposure level in
the online listing.
What has FDA done to measure the radiofrequency energy coming from wireless phones? The Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE) is developing a
technical standard for measuring the radiofrequency energy (RF) exposure from wireless phones and other wireless handsets with the participation and leadership of FDA
scientists and engineers. The standard, Recommended Practice for Determining the Spatial Peak Specific Absorption Rate (SAR) in the Human Body Due to Wireless
Communications Devices: Experimental Techniques, sets forth the first consistent test methodology for measuring the rate at which RF is deposited in the heads of wireless
phone users. The test method uses a tissue simulating model of the human head. Standardized SAR test methodology is expected to greatly improve the consistency of
measurements made at different laboratories on the same phone. SAR is the measurement of the amount of energy absorbed in tissue, either by the whole body or a small
part of the body. It is measured in watts/kg (or milliwatts/g) of matter. This measurement is used to determine whether a wireless phone complies with safety guidelines.
What steps can I take to reduce my exposure to radiofrequency energy from my wireless phone? If there is a risk from these products and at this point we do not know
that there is it is probably very small. But if you are concerned about avoiding even potential risks, you can take a few simple steps to minimize your exposure to
radiofrequency energy (RF). Since time is a key factor in how much exposure a person receives, reducing the amount of time spent using a wireless phone will reduce RF
exposure. If you must conduct extended conversations by wireless phone every day, you could place more distance between your body and the source of the RF, since the
exposure level drops off dramatically with distance. For example, you could use a headset and carry the wireless phone away from your body or use a wireless phone
connected to a remote antenna. Again, the scientific data do not demonstrate that wireless phones are harmful. But if you are concerned about the RF exposure from these
products, you can use measures like those described above to reduce your RF exposure from wireless phone use.
What about children using wireless phones? The scientific evidence does not show a danger to users of wireless phones, including children and teenagers. If you want to
take steps to lower exposure to radiofrequency energy (RF), the measures described above would apply to children and teenagers using wireless phones. Reducing the
time of wireless phone use and increasing the distance between the user and the RF source will reduce RF exposure.Some groups sponsored by other national governments
have advised that children be discouraged from using wireless phones at all. For example, the government in the United Kingdom distributed leaflets containing such a
recommendation in December 2000. They noted that no evidence exists that using a wireless phone causes brain tumors or other ill effects. Their recommendation to limit
wireless phone use by children was strictly precautionary; it was not based on scientific evidence that any health hazard exists.
What about wireless phone interference with medical equipment? Radio frequency energy (RF) from wireless phones can interact with some electronic devices. For this
reason, FDA helped develop a detailed test method to measure electromagnetic interference (EMI) of implanted cardiac pacemakers and defibrillators from wireless
telephones. This test method is now part of a standard sponsored by the Association for the Advancement of Medical instrumentation (AAMI). The final draft, a joint
effort by FDA, medical device manufacturers, and many other groups, was completed in late 2000. This standard will allow manufacturers to ensure that cardiac pacemakers
and defibrillators are safe from wireless phone EMI. FDA has tested hearing aids for interference from handheld wireless phones and helped develop a voluntary standard
sponsored by the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE). This standard specifies test methods and performance requirements for hearing aids and wireless
phones so that no interference occurs when a person uses a compatible phone and a accompanied hearing aid at the same time. This standard was approved by the IEEE
in 2000. FDA continues to monitor the use of wireless phones for possible interactions with other medical devices. Should harmful interference be found to occur, FDA
will conduct testing to assess the interference and work to resolve the problem.
Where can I find additional information? For additional information, please refer to the following resources:
FDA web page on wireless phoneshttp://www.fda.gov/cdrh/phones/index.html http://www.fda.gov/cdrh/phones/index.html
Federal Communications Commission (FCC) RF Safety Program http://www.fda.gov/cdrh/phones/index.html
International Commission on Non Ionizing Radiation Protectionhttp://www.icnirp.del World Health Organization (WHO) International EMF Project http://www.who.int/
National Radiological Protection Board (UK) http://www.nrpb.org.uk/
2004 For updates:http://www.fda.gov/cdrh/phones
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