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Sci Tech    H4'ed 9/25/15

Rules & Regulations About Electricity, Electronics, Wireless Devices, Electric & Telecom Infrastructure: A Study Guide

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Does any agency protect workers exposed to EMR?

A.M. Best Co. estimates that 250,000 workers come into close contact with cellular antennas every year. It warns other insurers that at close range, cellular antennas act (essentially as open microwave ovens;" and that exposed workers' health effects "can include eye damage, sterility and cognitive impairments."

In September, 2015, Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn) and Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.) wrote FCC Chair Tom Wheeler "even though the FCC recommends that wireless carriers control exposure to harmful RF radiation using safety protocols such as signs, barricades and training...these recommendations have not consistently been implemented to protect workers." The senators added that because cellular antennas are now found atop apartments, schools, hospitals, churches and fire stations, "RF technicians but also roofers, water proofers, electricians, carpenters, building maintenance personnel, HVAC technicians, painters, firefighters" and others are at risk of EMR exposure. While the FCC has made deploying wireless broadband a priority, including easing tower citing, these legislators don't want that to come at the expense of safety.

This is wonderful news when legislators step up to protect workers' rights and press the FCC to obey their own standards.

For more info, see John Eggerton's piece with MultiChannel News, Sept. 17, 2015; click here; click here

Other key rules and regulations

No federal law clearly states that FCC standards do not preempt the ability of injured citizens to go to court and recover damages caused by the trespass of electromagnetic radiation into their bodies (

Underwriters, including A.M. Best and Lloyds of London, advise insurance companies not to ensure against damages to health caused by wireless devices, including cellular antennas. Swiss RE rates man-made electromagnetic fields higher than any other emerging risk. click here

In 1964, Congress passed the Civil Rights Act. Section?? granted corporations "personhood" rights--the same as it granted to black people. This means that if your town wants cell phone manufacturers to label their phones' specific absorption rates (SARs) of radiation, the corporation can refuse, because such labeling would interfere with their right to free speech--a right of "personhood."

In 2015, Berkeley required SAR labeling on cell phones sold within its jurisdiction. Telecom corporations sued the city. Harvard's Lawrence Lessig defended Berkeley--and won. The telecoms have appealed this ruling.

Do any federal agencies protect the environment re EMR exposure?

In 1969, inspired by Rachel Carson's Silent Spring, which illuminated the hazards of pesticides like DDT, Congress established the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Quickly, EPA formed a division that studied the effects of EMR exposure on health and wildlife. By the late '80s, this division employed 36 full-time people. The EPA is still authorized to study EMR exposure's effects on health and the environment. However, since 1995, Congress has allotted this division a budget of zero to study the effects of EMR exposure.

The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) requires an environmental assessment before deploying new technology near schools or sensitive habitats ( The Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA) requires Environmental Assessment before deploying new technology near sensitive habitats (usfws.ogv). These Acts need to be enforced.

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Katie Singer works on public policy with the Electromagnetic Radiation Policy Institute. A medical journalist, her books include The Garden of Fertility; Honoring Our Cycles, and An Electronic Silent Spring: Facing the Dangers and Creating Safe Limits. 

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