Environmental Health Trust's FOIA Request to FCC Goes Unfulfilled

Request for Correspondence About Abrupt Change on FCC Website Regarding Cell Phone Safety Is Met With Late, Non-Responsive Reply

Environmental Health Trust (EHT), a nonprofit organization dedicated to identifying and controlling environmental health hazards, reports that a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request filed with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has been met with a one-month-late, non-responsive reply.

In September 2009, the FCC abruptly removed advice on its website regarding the purchase of lower SAR (specific absorption rate) cell phones. The website changes mirror statements used by the Cellular Telecommunication Industry Association (CTIA) in a lawsuit, filed on July 23, 2010 against San Francisco's Right To Know ordinance. Although the FCC site continued to list steps that individuals can take to reduce their exposure to cell phone radiation, these tips were prefaced by the following disclaimer: "The FCC does not endorse the need for these practices..." Another phrase was also deleted from the site: "If possible, keep wireless devices away from your body when they are on, mainly by not attaching them to belts or carrying them in pockets."

Concerned about what led to this sudden change in FCC advice, EHT filed a formal request for copies of all correspondence leading to this modification of its website. However, the FCC did not supply the requested information.

"The FCC's refusal to share with us the specific considerations that lay behind its decision to alter its consumer safety information is very disturbing," said EHT founder Devra Lee Davis, PhD, MPH. "On what grounds did someone at the FCC authorize these changes? Americans want to know why their government does not encourage safer cell phone use, like those of Israel, France and Finland. We waited a month longer than need be, to give the FCC time to respond. What we got was basically bureaucratic claptrap. We do not know who ordered this change or why it was made. Why is the US moving in the opposite direction of the rest of the world?"

Dr. Davis continued: "The FCC's own radiation-testing guidelines require that manufacturers must inform consumers to never hold or carry a wireless device against the body, as in the case of making a call with the phone attached to a belt or carried in a pocket. Deletion of this information from the consumer website appears to appease the industry's reluctance to disclose this crucial consumer safety warning."

Lloyd Morgan, Senior Research Fellow to EHT, said: "So now the FCC 'does not endorse the need' for practices that would lower our exposure to cell phone radiation? Why does it not endorse them, but then go ahead and list them anyway on its website? A series of research studies, including a recent, widely disseminated article in The Journal of the American Medical Association, have made it increasingly clear that cell phone use produces physical changes in the brain. Given this reality, all citizens have a right to know what led to the FCC site's new wording, which implies that there are no safety issues involved. Just as they rely on mileage estimates in buying cars, or energy use in buying clothes driers, people ought to have information on the relative radiation that is released by cell phones when deciding which phones to buy."

For more details about the events leading up to EHT's FOIA request, please visit: www.prweb.com/releases/2011/1/prweb8074843.htm

About Environmental Health Trust

Environmental Health Trust (EHT) educates individuals, health professionals and communities about controllable environmental health risks and policy changes needed to reduce those risks. Current multi-media projects include: local and national campaigns to ban smoking and asbestos; working with international physician and worker safety groups to warn about the risks of inappropriate use of diagnostic radiation and cell phones, exploring what factors lie behind puzzlingly high rates of fibroid tumors, breast cancer and endometriosis in young African American women, and building environmental wellness programs in Wyoming and Pennsylvania to address the environmental impacts of energy development, the built environment and radon. EHT was created with the goal of promoting health and preventing disease one person, one community and one nation at a time. Capitalizing on growing public interest in Dr. Devra Lee Davis's popular books, When Smoke Ran Like Water, a National Book Award Finalist, and The Secret History of the War on Cancer, and recent documentary films, the foundation's website will become the go to place for clear, science-based information to prevent environmentally based disease and promote health, and will have portals for the general public, children, and health professionals. For more information about getting involved in the numerous special projects spearheaded by the EHT, please log on to www.ehtrust.org.