A US court has ordered the FCC to reconsider its limits on non-ionising radio frequency radiation from mobile phone equipment. The US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia found the regulator violated the Administrative Procedure Act and failed to respond to comments on potential environmental harm in its decision in 2019 to uphold the previous limits. The case was brought by the non-profit group Environmental Health Trust, which has called for stricter limits in order to protect human health and the environment.
The court found the FCC decision to retain its 1996 safety limits for human exposure to wireless radiation was “arbitrary and capricious”, and said the regulator needed to provide a more reasoned explanation based on evidence. According to the EHT, the court held that the FCC failed to respond to “evidence that exposure to RF radiation at levels below the Commission’s current limits may cause negative health effects unrelated to cancer”, and the agency demonstrated “a complete failure to respond to comments concerning environmental harm caused by RF radiation”.
In particular, the court found the opinion submitted by the Food and Drug Administration to the FCC in its analysis was not sufficient to meet the requirements of the Administrative Procedure Act.
The court ordered to FCC to provide a reasoned explanation for its decision to retain its testing procedures for determining whether cell phones and other portable electronic devices comply with its guidelines. It must also address the impacts of RF radiation on children, the health implications of long-term exposure to radio frequency radiation, the ubiquity of wireless devices, and other technological developments that have occurred since the Commission last updated its guidelines, and address the impact of RF radiation on the environment.