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FCC proposes first cellphone radiation investigation in 15 years

Chairman of the U.S. Federal Communications Commission Julius Genachowski released a proposal on Friday to formally investigate whether wireless radiation is carcinogenic and should thus be regulated more strictly.

If the proposal is approved by a majority of the FCC's four other commissioners, the inquiry will move forward with an investigation of existing cellular radiation regulations as well as whether wireless devices used by children should carry be subject to higher standards, reports The Wall Street Journal. It has been 15 years since the commission last examined the issue.

A number of independent studies have raised concern over wireless radiation emission and its possible role in causing brain tumors, though a lack of conclusive evidence has kept the debate from being resolved. The proposed inquiry is not meant to put these questions to bed and an FCC official said that the agency has no plans to create new rules based on any possible findings.

"The great weight of the most credible scientific evidence tells us there is no causal link between cellphone usage and brain tumors," said FCC commissioner Robert McDowell (R-Va.). "Nonetheless, it is prudent to reassess our methodology and procedures from time to time, provided we don't cause unwarranted concern among cellphone consumers along the way."

While wireless industry proponents have downplayed any perceived link between cancer and cellular radiation environmental and health groups have repeatedly called for a formal government investigation. Those requests have thus far fallen on deaf ears and the FCC has been criticized for not looking into the issue sooner. According to two FCC officials, the Government Accountability Office is investigating the commission's lack of action and will release a report soon.

FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski.

"We fully expect that the FCC's review will confirm, as it has in the past, that the scientific evidence establishes no reason for concern about the safety of cellphones," said CTIA Vice President of Public Affairs John Walls. The CTIA is an international nonprofit organization that represents the wireless communications industry.

The FCC's commissioners are expected to green light the inquiry, though it is unclear how it will conduct the investigation or what it will do with the subsequent results.