Paul Ben Ishai
Paul Ben Ishai
Just muddling through.......

The day Don Quixote found his mark

Don Quixote Tilting at a Windmill by William Stewart Watson - Art UK, Public Domain
Don Quixote Tilting at a Windmill by William Stewart Watson - Art UK, Public Domain

Challenging powerful regulatory agencies is often like Don Quixote tilting at windmills.  A futile attack on an immovable monolith. But sometimes, not often I’ll grant you, the lance finds its mark and the monolith teeters a little.  Something like this happened recently in Washington D.C. and it is likely to have ramifications around the world.

On the 25th of January, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) stood up (figuratively) in the D.C. Circuit of Appeals and blithely claimed that the safety standards governing the exposure of the public to electromagnetic radiation originating from cellphones and wireless were good.  The court did not buy it.

The petition, lead by the Environmental Health Trust, an NGO devoted to the collation and dissemination of scientific evidence on our impact on the environment and health with a particular emphasis on Electromagnetic radiation, challenged the right of the FCC to set into regulation the current radiation exposure limits for frequencies of 5G and above.  The petition also demanded that the current limits also be reassessed.

The current very generous limits were first set in 1996 (In another post I will lay out the surprising history of exposure standards) and have been constantly challenged in the scientific literature.  They now apply to devices that did not even exist back then.  Worse still, there is now a solid bank of scientific evidence that cellphone radiation at the levels allowed, does indeed have a negative impact on our health.  However, rather than challenge the industry and make them work at biologically acceptable levels, the FCC dismisses the evidence and coddles up to the industry.  And they have now been called out on that.

I must be honest here and state that I am on the scientific advisory board of the Environmental Health Trust, a position I take most seriously.

Although the court has not handed down its decision yet, it is clear where the wind is blowing.  An excellent Co-ed piece by Dr. Devra Davis in the Washington Post sums it up perfectly :

“In reviewing our case, Environmental Health Trust et al v. FCC, the court asked the agency to show what expert advice it had relied on to dismiss the NTP study and thousands of pages of peer-reviewed science. The FCC had invoked the Interagency Radiofrequency Radiation Work Group, but could provide no evidence that this loosely affiliated, unfunded informal federal Work Group has either met or offered the FCC any advice in the past two years.”

The study she is referring to is by the National Toxicology Program (NTP), an independent body of the American National Institute of Health, charged specifically with the identification and investigation of toxigenic materials and elements. It is probably the most eminent authority in the world for this kind of research. Succinctly put, the FCC  commissioned the FDA who commissioned the NTP.  The study was extensive and expensive.  They took two populations of rats and mice, isolated them from all radio signals and let them live their lives, eat, breed and sleep.  One of the populations was exposed for 10 minutes a day to cell phone transmissions like GSM and LTE at levels similar to those allowed by those same FCC rules.  Now the unpleasant bit.  At the end of 2 years, the populations were culled.  In the animals exposed to the radiation, they found clear evidence of DNA damage and cancer. Anything that causes cancer in rats and mice causes cancer in us.  That’s why we use them in animal studies.  Now I have read those reports with the eye of a scientist and they convinced me.  The experiments were excellent and professionally done. So much so that 2 sets of reviews by independent experts could find no faults.  Yet the FCC and the FDA rejected them out of hand.

It goes on:

“The court then asked specifically whether the FDA had sought advice from its own Technical Electronic Product Radiation Safety Standards Committee, The FCC was forced to concede that that technical advisory committee has not met since 2016, is next scheduled to meet in fiscal 2021, and has never considered cellphone safety. In fact, that committee chiefly focuses on ensuring that electronic products do not interfere with each other. So you can be pretty sure that your phone will not block your tablet from working, but you have no idea whether either of them might interfere with your heart or cause damage to your DNA.”

In other words, not only did the FCC ignore the scientific evidence to the contrary, including its own, but failed totally to use any advice at all.  Yet that didn’t stop it from making a regulation that is so important.  It is important.  Because without the regulation by the FCC to maintain current dangerous exposure standards for high frequencies, the 5G rollout in the States is virtually illegal.  Big money involved here, in the range of trillions of dollars and that is now in danger if the court follows its earlier direction and punishes the FCC for its failure.  As the court then pointedly noted,

“The judge noted that agencies get a lot of discretion: “You get a long leash. But, at some point that leash goes too far and becomes unreasonable without a little bit of followup by the FCC — to make… to verify… just to pin down that the information is responsive.”

It doesn’t look good for the FCC.

You can read the full transcript here .

What happens in the States has a direct impact on what happens in Europe and here.  Already there are a number of European states who have effectively stopped the rollout of 5G pending a comprehensive health assessment.  For instance, in Switzerland. The special advisory expert group BERENIS to the Swiss Environmental agency has just issued a report that states that Electromagnetic radiation from cellphones leads to reactive oxidation species in the blood leading to oxidative stress.  And this has been linked to illness and to cancers.  The ruling of this court case will only accelerate this.

And, who knows?  Maybe the monolith will fall and Don Quixote will be triumphant……

About the Author
Originally from the UK, I made Aliyah 36 years ago. I am an Academic Staff member of the Physics Department of Ariel University, married with 3 children. I have authored of 80 publications in various fields of Physics and Chemistry. One of the subjects I specialize in is the interaction of Human skin and high frequency radio waves. I am also a scientific advisor for the Environmental Health Trust (
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