Every electric utility company and every state regulatory agency turns to the FCC’s regulatory limit as “proof” that wireless radiation from smart meters is not harmful to human health. Does the FCC limit really prove that, or is this just a case of whitewashing to deny the existence of harm in the face of abundant, high quality peer reviewed scientific evidence? (which is covered on other pages of this site)?
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is the only U.S. government agency that has created any sort of regulatory limit for exposure to wireless radiation that is even allegedly intended to protect the health and safety of consumers. In 1996 FCC set a “maximum exposure limit” (see note #1 below), based on industry data from 1986, and which was intended to apply to cell phones. Obviously cell phones have changed greatly over the years. Smart electric meters did not even exist at the time. Maybe they were a twinkle in somebody’s eye way back then but that is it. Nobody had produced an electronic tool that would be installed on the walls of people’s homes where people eat, sleep, play and live, that would transmit microwave and radio frequency (RF) data 24/7, often 13,000 times per day on average and up to 240,000 times per day, and which the consumer could not turn off or down or otherwise adjust. Therefore the FCC made a major mistake in applying this limit to smart meters.
FCC is co-opted and working for industry and against consumers
FCC is a completely co-opted regulatory agency, taken over long ago by the industries it is supposed to regulate and controlled by them to this day. FCC’s page on Tom Wheeler, its Chairman, says, “From 1992 to 2004, Chairman Wheeler served as President and CEO of the Cellular Telecommunications & Internet Association (CTIA).” That is all one needs to know in order to know that FCC is totally co-opted, corrupt, and working for the profits of industry, even (or especially?) when industry’s profit motive conflicts with the health and safety of consumers.
There is much more proof. In 2015 the Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics, Harvard University, published a report titled, “Captured Agency: How the Federal Communications Commission Is Dominated by the Industries It Presumably Regulates”, by Norm Alster
One can download this report at
Norm Alster’s report gives in depth analysis and proof of how and why the FCC is really doing the bidding of the industries it is supposed to regulate.
About the FCC’s “maximum exposure limit” that it set in 1996. That limit only seeks to prevent so called “thermal effect” (heating) and directly related health effects. It makes no effort to prevent “non thermal biological effects”.
In 1999 FCC wrote that more research was needed on “non thermal effects”:
“In general, while the possibility of ‘non-thermal’ biological effects may exist, whether or not such effects might indicate a human health hazard is not presently known. Further research is needed to determine the generality of such effects and their possible relevance, if any, to human health.”
(Federal Communications Commission, Office of Engineering & Technology, “Questions and Answers about Biological Effects and Potential Hazards of Radiofrequency Electromagnetic Fields”, OET BULLETIN 56, Fourth Edition, August 1999, page 8)
and more specifically here:
You can also download the document from this site:
FCC wrote that statement in August, 1999. Assuming the statement was true at the time, does that give any assurance that wireless radiation does NOT cause harm in the form of “non-thermal” biological effects as of the year 2015? Or any time since the early 2000s when some of those hundreds of scientific studies were published? Of course not.
There have been literally hundreds of peer reviewed scientific studies on the non-thermal biological effects of wireless radiation since 1999. For some of this evidence please see our pages on scientific studies and health effects.
Therefore by the admission of FCC, their standard is insufficient and inappropriate as an evaluation of wireless radiation today.
Knowing this may cause the reader to view the FCC maximum exposure limit as less than the blank check, get out of jail free card that the utilities all claim it is.
FCC reassessment of its RF exposure standards
The U.S. GAO (Government Accountability Office) investigated and reported on this issue in July 2012 at the request of three Members of the House of Representatives. GAO’s report recommended that FCC reevaluate its maximum exposure limits.
GAO issued a report titled: “Telecommunications: Exposure and Testing Requirements for Mobile Phones Should Be Reassessed”
GAO-12-771: Published: Jul 24, 2012. Publicly Released: Aug 7, 2012.
“FCC should formally reassess and, if appropriate, change its current RF energy exposure limit and mobile phone testing requirements related to likely usage configurations, particularly when phones are held against the body. FCC noted that a draft document currently under consideration by FCC has the potential to address GAO’s recommendations.”
In response FCC began this process in March, 2013. However nearly three years later it is hard to tell what progress FCC has made on the issue. It appears that FCC is stonewalling, has put the entire reassessment on the back shelf so as to protect the profits of industry and defer the long overdue and much needed biologically based reassessment that would lead to a tightening of the maximum exposure limit, and possibly other regulatory measures, to really protect public health. What has FCC accomplished on this reassessment? Not much. Nothing definitive or conclusive.
FCC also stated its intention to rely primarily, but not exclusively, on input that it might receive from other regulatory agencies. It said it will rely much less on the input from independent scientists. This is exactly backwards, since other regulatory agencies have not weighed in on the subject and are often co-opted and working for the profits of the regulated industries just as FCC is. FCC knows this. This is their way of protecting the profits of the utilities and the smart meter industries.
“Some critics of our exposure limits have contrasting opinions, and we are aware of the general concerns raised some members of the public. The purpose of this Inquiry is to open a science-based examination of the efficacy, currency, and adequacy of the Commission’s exposure limits for RF electromagnetic fields. We underscore that in conducting this review we will work closely with and rely heavily – but not exclusively – on the guidance of other federal agencies with expertise in the health field. This approach will ensure that we will have fully discharged our regulatory responsibility and also will be appropriately responsive to the public’s interest in knowing that our RF exposure guidelines are based on the most current information, analysis, and expertise available.”
(FCC reassessment at 74)
Notice that FCC did NOT say that this approach will ensure that it takes into consideration the peer reviewed scientific studies from independent scientists. FCC is primarily concerned with appearances; the appearance that they have done it right. In other words they are more concerned about public relations than real science or protecting consumer health and safety.
The FCC (Federal Communications Commission) began its reassessment and proposed changes on March 29, 2013.
You can also download it from this site:
The title of this document is “In the Matter of Reassessment of Federal Communications Commission Radiofrequency Exposure Limits and
Policies, ET Docket No. 13-84, and Proposed Changes in the Commission’s Rules Regarding Human Exposure to Radiofrequency
Electromagnetic Fields, ET Docket No. 03-137, FIRST REPORT AND ORDER, FURTHER NOTICE OF PROPOSED RULE MAKING AND NOTICE OF INQUIRY”, Adopted: March 27, 2013 Released: March 29, 2013
This document is really a masterpiece of bureaucratic obfuscation and protection and covering up of industry profits. It is loaded with footnotes but there are no footnotes for the following statement:
“Since the Commission is not a health and safety agency itself, adoption of these exposure criteria for human exposure to RF electromagnetic fields followed recommendations received from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and other federal health and safety agencies.”
At that point in the document there have already been 371 (three hundred seventy one) footnotes in only 74 1/2 pages. This is a very significant statement and it leads the reader to believe that the USEPA and USFDA “and other federal health and safety agencies” have made recommendations regarding exposure to RF electromagnetic fields. In that case why are there no footnotes?! There have been five footnotes per page, on average, in the first 74 pages of this document and yet this very significant and suggestive statement is not footnoted at all. Could it be that the reason is that NO federal agency other than the FCC has made any such recommendations?! As far as the author of this site knows, that is the case. And that is the reason for the FCC’s conspicuous lack of footnotes on that statement.
Readers should also read Ronald M. Powell’s article “FCC Maximum Permissible Exposure Limits for Electromagnetic Radiation, as Applicable to Smart Meters”, published on November 20, 2014.
Ron Powell is a genius, plain and simple. He has written several articles about the health effects of smart meter radiation. One can find them at:
Here is how FCC explains it regulatory limits on RF radiation:
212. The Commission’s rules include two types of guidelines limiting exposure to RF energy: specific absorption rate (SAR) and maximum permissible exposure (MPE).372 For portable transmitting devices held close to the body such as cell phones, we enforce a limit on the localized SAR, which is a measure of the RF power absorbed inside a small part of the body. For transmitters and antennas located relatively far from the body, such as broadcast stations, cellular base stations, and two-way mobile vehicular radios, the MPE limits apply to the environmental level of RF field strength (energy) or power density (illumination) without the body present. At frequencies up to 6 GHz the MPE values are derived from the whole-body average SAR limits. As discussed in the Order herein,373 SAR is the primary metric for compliance with regard to exposure to RF energy, applicable to all transmitters operating from 100 kHz to 6 GHz. The MPE limit on power density is the primary metric from 6 to 100 GHz.374
(FCC reassessment at 75)
My masterpiece is complete for now.