In October 2006, the Food and Drug Administration contracted with the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) to conduct a symposium and issue a report on what additional research is needed to address the possible health effects of wireless communication. NAS organized an open workshop of national and international experts to discuss the research conducted to date, knowledge gaps, and additional research needed to fill those gaps in the summer of 2007. Based on the presentations and discussions made at the workshop, NAS has published a report titled “Identification of Research Needs Relating to Potential Biological or Adverse Health Effects of Wireless Communication Devices”. An electronic copy of this report can be obtained from the National Academy of Sciences at http://www.nap.edu/catalog.php?record_id=12036 .
Funding for this project came from a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA) between the Food and Drug Administration's Center for Devices and Radiological Health and the Cellular Telecommunications and Internet Association (CTIA).
Wireless telephones are hand-held phones with built-in antennas,
often called cell, mobile, or PCS phones. These phones are popular
with callers because they can be carried easily from place to place.
Wireless telephones are two-way radios. When you talk into a wireless
telephone, it picks up your voice and converts the sound to radiofrequency
energy (or radio waves). The radio waves travel through the air
until they reach a receiver at a nearby base station. The base station
then sends your call through the telephone network until it reaches
the person you are calling.
When you receive a call on your wireless telephone, the message
travels through the telephone network until it reaches a base station
close to your wireless phone. Then the base station sends out radio
waves that are detected by a receiver in your telephone, where the
signals are changed back into the sound of a voice.
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and the Food and Drug
Administration (FDA) each regulate wireless telephones. FCC ensures
that all wireless phones sold in the United States follow safety
guidelines that limit radiofrequency (RF) energy. FDA monitors the
health effects of wireless telephones. Each agency has the authority
to take action if a wireless phone produces hazardous levels of
FDA derives its authority to regulate wireless telephones from
the Radiation Control provisions of the Federal Food, Drug, and
Cosmetic Act (originally enacted as the Radiation Control for Health
and Safety Act of 1968). [http://www.fda.gov/cdrh/comp/eprc.html].
FCC derives its authority to regulate wireless telephones from
the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA) and the Telecommunications
Act of 1996 [http://www.fcc.gov/telecom.html].
Updated June 2, 2008