SACRAMENTO, Calif. — A new study argued the current federal limit for exposure to wireless radiation should be hundreds of times lower than it is, for children.
Researchers from the Environmental Working Group took methodology developed by the Environmental Protection Agency to assess human health risks from toxic chemicals, and applied it to radiofrequency (RF) radiation from wireless devices, including cellphones, tablets and 5G networks.
Dr. Olga Naidenko, vice president for science investigations for the Environmental Working Group and the study’s co-author, said standards should be updated, and in the meantime, she suggested parents take simple steps to reduce their kids’ RF exposure.
“Teaching children not to sleep with the phone under the pillow, that is probably a good first step,” Naidenko advised. “And for example, instead of clutching it to the chest, to put the tablet or the phone on the table.”
The wireless industry countered its products are safe and comply with Federal Communications Commission rules, and the FCC reviewed and upheld its original RF radiation standard in 2019. But Naidenko noted the studies underpinning those standards are 25 years old and apply only to adults.
A 2018 study from the National Toxicology Program linked wireless radiation to heart and brain tumors in rats.
Nonetheless, the California Legislature is considering two bills, Senate Bill 556 and Assembly Bill 537, which would make it harder for cities to place limits on where new 5G cell towers can be installed.
Dr. Jerome Paulson, professor emeritus of pediatrics and occupational and environmental Health at George Washington University, said until 5G is proven safe, he supports local ordinances like those in Los Altos and Petaluma that require a 500-foot setback from schools and homes.
“5G towers should be placed far away from human beings,” Paulson contended. “The distance provides the protection, because the farther away you get, the less energy gets to people.”
Paulson thinks the government should set separate wireless-radiation limits for children. The World Health Organization classified cellphone radiation as a possible carcinogen in 2011.