Monday, March 24, 2014

Cell Tower Radiation Affects Wildlife: Dept. of Interior Attacks FCC

The Department of Interior charges that the FCC standards for cell phone radiation  are outmoded and no longer applicable as they do not adequately protect wildlife.

The Director of the Office of Environmental Policy and Compliance of the United States Department of the Interior sent a letter to the National Telecommunications and Information Administration in the Department of Commerce which addresses the Interior Department's concern that cell tower radiation has had negative impacts on the health of migratory birds and other wildlife. 

The Interior Department accused the Federal government of employing outdated radiation standards set by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), a federal agency with no expertise in health.  The standards are no longer applicable because they control only for overheating and do not protect organisms from the adverse effects of exposure to the low-intensity radiation produced by cell phones and cell towers:
"the electromagnetic radiation standards used by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) continue to be based on thermal heating, a criterion now nearly 30 years out of date and inapplicable today." 
The Department  criticized the Federal government's proposed procedures for placement and operation of communication towers, and called for "independent, third-party peer-reviewed studies" in the U.S. to examine the effects of cell tower radiation on "migratory birds and other trust species." 

Following are excerpts from the letter, dated  Feb 7, 2014:
"The Department believes that some of the proposed procedures are not consistent with Executive Order 13186 Responsibilities of Federal Agencies to Protect Migratory Birds, which specifically requires federal agencies to develop and use principles, standards, and practices that will lessen the amount of unintentional take reasonably attributed to agency actions. The Department, through the Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), finds that the proposals lack provisions necessary to conserve migratory bird resources, including eagles. The proposals also do not reflect current information regarding the effects of communication towers to birds. Our comments are intended to further clarify specific issues and address provisions in the proposals.
The Department recommends revisions to the proposed procedures to better reflect the impacts to resources under our jurisdiction from communication towers. The placement and operation of communication towers, including un-guyed, unlit, monopole or lattice-designed structures, impact protected migratory birds in two significant ways. The first is by injury, crippling loss, and death from collisions with towers and their supporting guy-wire infrastructure, where present. The second significant issue associated with communication towers involves impacts from non-ionizing electromagnetic radiation emitted by them (See Attachment)."
Enclosure A
"The second significant issue associated with communication towers involves impacts from nonionizing electromagnetic radiation emitted by these structures. Radiation studies at cellular communication towers were begun circa 2000 in Europe and continue today on wild nesting birds. Study results have documented nest and site abandonment, plumage deterioration, locomotion problems, reduced survivorship, and death (e.g., Balmori 2005, Balmori and Hallberg 2007, and Everaert and Bauwens 2007). Nesting migratory birds and their offspring have apparently been affected by the radiation from cellular phone towers in the 900 and 1800 MHz frequency ranges- 915 MHz is the standard cellular phone frequency used in the United States. However, the electromagnetic radiation standards used by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) continue to be based on thermal heating, a criterion now nearly 30 years out of date and inapplicable today. This is primarily due to the lower levels of radiation output from microwave-powered communication devices such as cellular telephones and other sources of point-to-point communications; levels typically lower than from microwave ovens. The problem, however, appears to focus on very low levels of non-ionizing electromagnetic radiation. For example, in laboratory studies, T. Litovitz (personal communication) and DiCarlo et al. (2002) raised concerns about impacts of low-level, non-thermal electromagnetic radiation from the standard 915 MHz cell phone frequency on domestic chicken embryos- with some lethal results (Manville 2009, 2013a). Radiation at extremely low levels (0.0001 the level emitted by the average digital cellular telephone) caused heart attacks and the deaths of some chicken embryos subjected to hypoxic conditions in the laboratory while controls subjected to hypoxia were unaffected (DiCarlo et al. 2002). To date, no independent, third-party field studies have been conducted in North America on impacts of tower electromagnetic radiation on migratory birds. With the European field and U.S. laboratory evidence already available, independent, third-party peer-reviewed studies need to be conducted in the U.S. to begin examining the effects from radiation on migratory birds and other trust species."
Radiation Impacts and Categorical Exclusions
"There is a growing level of anecdotal evidence linking effects of non-thermal, non-ionizing electromagnetic radiation from communication towers on nesting and roosting wild birds and other wildlife in the U.S. Independent, third-party studies have yet to be conducted in the U.S. or Canada, although a peer-reviewed research protocol developed for the U.S. Forest Service by the Service's Division of Migratory Bird Management is available to study both collision and radiation impacts (Manville 2002). As previously mentioned, Balmori (2005) found strong negative correlations between levels of tower-emitted microwave radiation and bird breeding, nesting, and roosting in the vicinity of electromagnetic fields in Spain. He documented nest and site abandonment, plumage deterioration, locomotion problems, reduced survivorship, and death in House Sparrows, White Storks, Rock Doves, Magpies, Collared Doves, and other species. Though these species had historically been documented to roost and nest in these areas, Balmori (2005) did not observe these symptoms prior to construction and operation of the cellular phone towers. Balmori and Hallberg (2007) and Everaert and Bauwens (2007) found similar strong negative correlations among male House Sparrows. Under laboratory 'conditions, DiCarlo et al. (2002) raised troubling concerns about impacts of low-level, non-thermal electromagnetic radiation from the standard 915 MHz cell phone frequency on domestic chicken embryos- with some lethal results (Manville 2009). Given the findings of the studies mentioned above, field studies should be conducted in North America to validate potential impacts of communication tower radiation both direct and indirect - to migratory birds and other trust wildlife species."
The full text of the letter, the addendum and citations are available at:  http://1.usa.gov/1jn3CZg

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Cell Phone Radiation Label Bill Passes Maine Legislature Before Dying

The Maine House and Senate passed "The Wireless Information Act," a cell phone radiation label requirement, and then killed it prior to enactment due to cellular industry lobbyists.

On March 11, 2014, the Maine House House of Representatives passed an amended version of "The Wireless Information Act" on a vote of 83 to 56.  The bill, LD 1013, requires that any manufacturer's information relating to radio-frequency exposure must be plainly visible on the outside of the cell phone's product packaging or the packaging must contain a label with the following warning for all cell phones sold in the state that have manufacturer's safety warnings:


"RF EXPOSURE: To find information relating to radio-frequency exposure, refer to information supplied by the manufacturer" and language directing consumers to the page or pages of the owner's manual or other insert or location where the radio-frequency exposure guidelines or instructions or general information may be found."

The amended bill specifies that it applies only to cell phones sold at retail in the state, and that the law would take effect only after four other states, in addition to Maine, have adopted legislation requiring labeling of cell phones or cell phone packaging relating to radio-frequency exposure.

Rep. Andrea Boland sponsored the bill.

Prior to the vote, Harvard Law Professor Lawrence Lessig publicly announced at a lecture at the University of Southern Maine that he would help defend the law if the industry sued and the State of Maine did not want to defend it.

On March 18, the Maine Senate passed the amended bill on a 21-14 vote.  


Before a bill goes to the Governor for approval in Maine, it is returned to the originating body for enactment, usually a routine matter.  However, on March 20, the bill died in the Maine House of Representatives as the House failed to enact it on a 77-60 vote.  Cell phone industry lobbyists killed the bill by co-opting the Democratic House leadership to switch their votes from approval to disapproval.

Several other states, including California, Hawaii, Oregon, and Pennsylvania, have tried to adopt cell phone warning label laws but have been blocked by intense lobbying by the cell phone industry. The industry does not want consumers to read the microwave radiation safety warnings that cell phone manufacturers bury in cell phone user manuals, nor does it want cell phone users to take simple precautions to reduce their risk of harm.  The industry has argued before the federal Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals that consumers will panic if they are informed about the risks from exposure to cell phone radiation that have been reported in the scientific literature.

Why does the cellular industry continue to hide from the public the RF safety information contained in the cell phone user manuals?  Isn't this short-sighted from the perspective of product liability? Why isn't this industry concerned about public safety?

The wording of the bill and the amendment appear below.


LD 1013 (HP 711)
‘An Act To Create the Wireless Information Act’
Sec. 1.  22 MRSA c. 261-B  is enacted to read:
CHAPTER 261-B
THE WIRELESS INFORMATION ACT
§ 1537Short title
This chapter may be known and cited as "the Wireless Information Act."
§ 1538Labels for cellular telephones

1 Definitions.     As used in this section, unless the context otherwise indicates, the following terms have the following meanings.

A.  "Cellular telephone" means a device used to access a wireless telephone service.

2 Prominence of instructions.     If a cellular telephone manufacturer includes guidelines or instructions or general information relating to radio-frequency exposure in any literature distributed or made available to consumers in connection with its products, the cellular telephone manufacturer shall ensure that:

A.  The full language of the radio-frequency exposure guidelines or instructions or general information is plainly visible on the outside of the product packaging; or

B.  A label is plainly visible on the outside of the product packaging alerting consumers to the radio-frequency exposure guidelines or instructions or general information. The body of the notice must be in letters not less than 1/16 inch in height. The initial words "RF EXPOSURE" must appear in capital letters and in bold type at least 1/8 inch in height, followed by: "To find information relating to radio-frequency exposure, refer to information supplied by the manufacturer" and language directing consumers to the page or pages of the owner's manual or other insert or location where the radio-frequency exposure guidelines or instructions or general information may be found.

3 Violation.    A violation of this chapter is a violation of the Maine Unfair Trade Practices Act.

SUMMARY

This amendment replaces the bill. It requires that any notification related to radio-frequency exposure supplied by a cellular telephone manufacturer must have the language of the notification plainly visible on the outside of the product packaging or a label, plainly visible on the outside of the product packaging, directing the consumer where to find the information. A violation of this provision is a violation of the Maine Unfair Trade Practices Act. 


AMENDMENT
Amend the amendment in section 1 in §1538 by inserting after subsection 2 the following:

3 Application.    This section applies only to cellular telephones sold at retail in this State.
Amend the amendment in section 1 in §1538 by renumbering the subsections to read consecutively.
Amend the amendment by inserting after section 1 the following:
Sec. 2. Contingent effective date; repeal.
1. Effective date. The chair of the Public Utilities Commission shall monitor legislative activities in other states and certify to the Secretary of State and the Revisor of Statutes when 4 states, in addition to Maine, have adopted legislation requiring labeling of cellular telephones or cellular telephone packaging relating to radio-frequency exposure. The chair shall notify the joint standing committee of the Legislature having jurisdiction over utilities matters when certification is made. That section of this Act that enacts the Maine Revised Statutes, Title 22, chapter 261-B takes effect 30 days after the date of the chair's certification.
2. Repeal. If no certification has been made by the chair of the Public Utilities Commission under subsection 1 before January 1, 2024, the Maine Revised Statutes, Title 22, chapter 261-B is repealed on that date.’
 SUMMARY
This amendment provides that the requirements governing the labeling of cellular telephones or cellular telephone packaging relating to radio-frequency exposure applies only to cellular telephones sold at retail in Maine. This amendment also requires that before this legislation takes effect, 4 other states must adopt legislation requiring labeling of cellular telephones or cellular telephone packaging relating to radio-frequency exposure.