The Dubious History of U.S. Wireless Radiation Safety Limits; No Update Since 1996 Despite Research and Lawsuits

By B.N. Frank

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is supposed to protect Americans from the telecom and cable industries.  Instead, the regulatory agency has catered to these industries for decades (see 1, 2).  Lawsuits have been filed against it for NOT protecting the public from unsafe levels of cell phone and WiFi radiation, 5G on Earth (see 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6), in space (see 1, 2) and also for allowing telecom and cable companies to overcharge Americans for decades.

Last month, a federal court ruled in favor of organizations and petitioners that claim the agency is not adequately protecting the public from harmful wireless radiation exposure.

Thanks to Environmental Health Trust for creating and posting this tell-all timeline:


Timeline of Development of Safety Limits for Wireless Radiation in US

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After WWII: US begins robust interagency research: 1957 Conference Report1967 Air Force Report, 1971 Naval Report, 1978 Report Office of Science & Technology, 1978 Conference, 1979 Dept of Commerce Report1980 Dept of Energy Report1994 Air Force Report.

1979: United States Congressional Hearing (Transcript 1, 2, 3)

1980s to 1996: EPA measured levels in US and was tasked to develop wireless radiation safety limits. 1984 EPA Report on Biological Effects, 1986 Report on Environmental Exposure Levels

1995: EPA meets with FCC & presents EPA’s plan to develop RF safety limits . Video explainer. 

1996: EPA defunded from researching EMFs. EPA closed project measuring EMF levels in US Cities.

1996: FCC adopts RF wireless radiation rules and safety limits from industry connected groups (ANSI/IEEE C95.1-1992 and NCRP’s 1986 Report). EHT’s Analysis of the creation of US limits. 

1999: FDA requests the National Toxicology Program to study cell phone radiation because of the lack of safety data on health effects from long term chronic exposure.

2008: National Research Council Report “The Identification of Research Needs Relating to Potential Biological or Adverse Health Effects of Wireless Communications Devices”

2008: Congressional Hearing: Health Effects of Cell Phone Use

2009: US Senate Hearings on Health Effects of Cell Phone Wireless Radiation

2012: Government Accountability Office Report recommends cell phone test procedures be reassessed to ensure they reflect real world use and are based on latest science.

2013: FCC opens official inquiry 13-84 asking if RF limits should be updated

2013 to 2019: Thousands of pages of scientific evidence submitted to FCC in Docket 13-84.

2018: National Toxicology Program releases Final Reports on large scale animal studies of chronic exposure to cell phone radiation and concludes “clear evidence” of cancer. FDA rejects the findings.  EHT and expert scientists write FDA with science based letters calling on the FDA to retract their biased review.

2019: FCC decision 19-126  not to update 1996 RF limits

2020: EHT filed case against the FCC arguing the 2019 decision was not based on adequate review of the FCC 13-84 record. 

2021: The U.S Court of Appeals for DC Circuit rules on EHT et al., v. FCC in our favor.

Notable US Agency letters

1996: EPA Letter that US Limits are only protective for thermal impacts



1999: Scientists from US federal agencies of the radiofrequency interagency workgroup (RFIWG) write IEEE  Work Group Chair on critical issues about RF exposure limits

2002: EPA Letter stating FCC’s 1996 RF limits do not protect against all effects

2003: Scientists from US federal agencies (RFIAWG) again write IEEE on additional issues about IEEE’s RF exposure limits. Both 1999 and 2003 letters remain unanswered.

2014: U.S. Department of the Interior Letter to the National Telecommunications and Information Administration stating FCC Guidelines are outdated. 


Activist Post reports regularly about the FCC and unsafe technology.  For more information, visit our archives and the following websites:

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