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CONGRESS OF THE UNITED STATES: Letter sent to Kevin Martin, Chairman of the FCC by the Congressional Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.

Sábado 21 de febrero de 2009 · 1304 lecturas

CONGRESS OF THE UNITED STATES

COMMITTEE ON OVERSIGHT AND GOVERNMENT REFORM

www.oversight.house.gov
November 3,2008

Mr. Kevin J. Martin,
Chairman Federal Communications Commission
445 l2th Street SW
Washington D.C. 20554

Re: “White Spaces" Unlicensed Operation in the TV Broadcast Bands
(ET Docket No. 04-186)

Dear Mr. Martin:

I write in reference to the Federal Communication Commission’s vote on
the authorization of new unlicensed "White Spaces" devices for
wireless communications in the TV Broadcast Bands, scheduled for its
November 4th meeting. FCC adoption of rules to authorize use of White
Spaces spectrum for wireless devices operating in the home will lead
to the repeated, chronic, long-term exposure of individuals, at all
age levels, and to more frequencies and quantities of radiofrequency
(RF) radiation at very close range than is currently the case. Whether
these exposures pose human health risks is under investigation by
members of the scientific and public health research communities. I am
writing to remind FCC to consider the potential for serious human
health effects that could result from the proliferation of these
devices in the home, before allowing the proliferation of such
devices.

By design, the White Spaces devices rule will increase the bandwidth
available for wireless devices operating at close range, for general
use in the home and elsewhere. As a result, it is expected that the
number of transmitters in the broadcast frequency range will increase
exponentially with the roll out of White Spaces devices and
infrastructure. The Commission has classified unlicensed broadband
White Spaces devices to be used in the TV bands into two general
functional categories. The first category consists of lower power
"personal/ portable" unlicensed devices, such as Wi-Fi cards in laptop
computers or wireless in-home local area networks (LANs). The second
category consists of higher power "fixed/access" unlicensed devices
that are generally operated from a fixed location and may be used to
provide a commercial service such as wireless broadband Internet
access. Whereas high-powered analogue broadcast transmitter sites have
traditionally been found at locations somewhat removed from business
centers and residential neighborhoods, the new White Spaces devices
that will also transmit in the digital broadcast frequencies are
designed to operate at close range to members of the public who choose
to use them as well as to their colleagues and neighbors who may
choose not to use them.

This proliferation of RF exposure follows the September 25,2008
hearing before the Domestic Policy Subcommittee of the Oversight and
Government Reform Committee on "Tumors and Cell Phone Use-What the
Science Says" at which witnesses raised serious concerns about the
potential public health implications of RF exposures through cell
phones. Some specific concerns were raised about FCC RF radiation
exposure limits. Namely, they may not be adequate to protect humans
from adverse biological effects; may not provide protection from
long-term exposure; are only based on tissue heating reactions on a
non-representative sample of the total population (a six-feet tall
male); do not address the current state of scientific research
establishing non-thermal biological effects; and do not err on the
side of precaution.

While RF exposures from cell phones are different than the RF
exposures that will be generated through the White Spaces auction,
there is much that is unknown about the health effects of these
exposures that corresponds with concerns raised in the hearing. In its
2005 Fact Sheet entitled, "Studies on Radiofrequency Radiation Emitted
by Cellular Phones," the National Toxicology Program (NTP) at the
National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences states:

Over 100 million Americans currently use wireless communication
devices with over 50 thousand new users daily. This translates into a
potentially significant public health problem should the use of these
devices even slightly increase the risk of adverse health effects.
Cellular phones and other wireless communication devices are required
to meet the radiofrequency radiation (RFR) exposure guidelines of the
Federal Communications Commission (FCC, August 1996). The existing
exposure guidelines are based on protection from acute injury from
thermal effects of RFR exposure. Current data are insufficient to draw
definitive conclusions concerning the adequacy of these guidelines to
be protective against any non-thermal effects of chronic exposures.

In January 2008 the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) issued a report
entitled: Identification of Research Needs Relating to Potential
Biological or Adverse Health Effects of Wireless Communication
Devices. The following excerpts from the NAS Report support the NTP’s
conclusion that the research record upon which FCC’s RF Safety
Guidelines are based does not adequately safeguard the public from
non-thermal chronic exposures:

Research Needs

l. There is a need to characterize exposure of juveniles, children,
pregnant women, and fetuses, both for personal wireless devices (e.g.,
cell phones, wireless personal computers, [PCs] and for RF fields from
base station antennas including gradients and variability of
exposures, the environment in which devices are used, and exposures
from other sources, multilateral exposures, and multiple frequencies.

2. Wireless networks are being built very rapidly, and many more base
station antennas are being installed. A crucial research need is to
characterize radiated electromagnetic fields for typical
multiple-element base station antennas and for the highest radiated
power conditions with measurements conducted during peak hours of the
day at locations close to the antennas as well as at ground level . .
.

3. The use of evolving types of antennas for hand-held cell phones and
text messaging devices need to be characterized for the Specific
Absorption Rates (SAR) that they deliver to different parts of the
body so that this data is available for use in future epidemiologic
studies.

4. RF exposure of the operational personnel close to multi-element
newer base station antennas is unknown and could be high, These
exposures need to be characterized. Also needed are dosimetric
absorbed power calculations using realistic anatomic models for both
men and women of different heights. (P. 5)

Most of the reported studies to date have involved one base station
antenna and have used mostly homogeneous models, often of simplified
circular or rectangular cross sections of the exposed human . . . In
other words, the studies to date do not pertain to the commonly used
multiple-element base station radiators. Also, unlike highly
localized cell phone RF energy deposition, the base station exposures
involve much, if not all, of the body and would have slightly
different radiator origins (for multiple-element base stations) and
may be multi-frequency as well, particularly if several
different-frequency base station antennas are co-located. Furthermore,
because of the whole-body resonance phenomenon, the SIR is likely to
be higher for shorter individuals due to the closeness of the
frequency/frequencies of exposure to the whole -body resonance
frequency. (P. 15)

FCC has committed detailed and thorough analysis of what this White
Spaces technology might do to cause interference with other commercial
uses. I call upon the Commission to match its concern for commercial
interests with concern for human health of the future consumers of
this technology. To that end, I hereby request that the Commission
stay its November 4, 2008 vote pertaining to "White Spaces" devices.
In the interim, I urge you to immediately take appropriate agency
action to consider what RF human exposure guidelines FCC should set to
protect the health and safety of the American public before
authorizing this technology to be licensed or deployed. I also request
that the Commission provide my Subcommittee with a detailed
description of the measures FCC has taken to date to ensure public
health will not be jeopardized by the auctioning of the White Spaces
spectrum, given the scientific concerns and unknowns about RF exposure
and the proliferation of new RF exposures that will result.

The Oversight and Government Reform Committee is the principal
oversight committee in the House of Representatives and has broad
oversight jurisdiction as set forth in House Rule X. An attachment to
this letter provides information on how to respond to the
Subcommittee’s request. We request that you provide these documents as
soon as possible, but in no case later than 5:00 p.m. on Monday,
November 17, 2008. If you have any questions regarding this request,
please contact Jaron Bourke, Staff Director, at (202) 225-6427.

Sincerely,
Dennis J. Kucinich
Chairman
Domestic Policy Subcommittee

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