U.S. Regulators to Investigate Mobile Phone Health Issues

Federal regulators today began an inquiry into whether U.S. standards need to be updated to protect people from mobile-phone radiation.

The Federal Communications Commission announced the proceeding in an e-mail. The agency last reviewed standards in 1996, when fewer mobile phones were in use.

The FCC last June said it intended to begin the inquiry announced today, and called the pending action a routine review. Its guidelines set maximum radiation exposure levels based on the amount of heat emitted by mobile phones.

There have been concerns that energy from phones held close to the head may affect the brain and other tissues, according to the National Cancer Institute, part of the U.S. government’s National Institutes of Health. The cancer institute said on its website that studies of cells, animals and humans haven’t produced evidence that radio energy can cause cancer.

The number of mobile phone calls per day, the length of each call and the amount of time people use the phones have increased, and phone technology has also undergone substantial changes, the cancer institute said.

About 44 million people in the U.S. had mobile phones in 1996, according to FCC figures. There were 332 million wireless subscriber connections in 2011, according to CTIA-The Wireless Association, a Washington-based trade group.