STATEMENT TO THE WIRELESS SAFETY SUMMIT
(Extensions of Remarks - October 13, 2011)

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[Extensions of Remarks]
[Pages E1855-E1856]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]




                STATEMENT TO THE WIRELESS SAFETY SUMMIT

                                 ______
                                 

                        HON. DENNIS J. KUCINICH

                                of ohio

                    in the house of representatives

                       Thursday, October 13, 2011

  Mr. KUCINICH. Mr. Speaker, I submit the following.

       Good morning and thank you for the opportunity to talk with 
     you about wireless technology. It is an honor to be in a room 
     with people who are so ahead of their time when it comes to 
     thinking about the effects of widespread wireless technology. 
     This is an issue of great interest to me. Many of you know I 
     held a hearing on the topic--the first in at least a decade 
     if not the first ever--on the effects of cell phones on human 
     health. My hearing was followed by a hearing in the Senate 
     which also generated some interest.
       I walked away from that hearing thinking the evidence that 
     cell phones could cause brain cancer was fairly compelling. 
     It was far from being authoritative but it was compelling. At 
     a minimum, the current lack of research in the US is not at 
     all justified, especially since some estimates are that half 
     of the world population uses a cell phone. One of the most 
     important areas we discussed at my hearing was the mechanism.
       The wireless industry likes to claim that the only way a 
     cell phone could cause harm to a human being is by heating 
     tissue directly--the so called thermal mechanism. This is the 
     way a microwave oven works. But we heard some evidence that a 
     non-thermal mechanism is at work. It is certainly feasible 
     since there are many existing therapies using electromagnetic 
     radiation to induce some effect in the body using non-thermal 
     mechanisms.
       It is an important conversation to have because this 
     belief--that there is no non-thermal mechanism--is preventing 
     some influential agencies from being open to the possibility 
     that cell phones and other wireless technologies are a real 
     public health problem. I'm talking about the National Cancer 
     Institute mainly, who is in turn influencing the Federal 
     Communications Commission and the Food and Drug 
     Administration.
       These agencies are using this conversation about thermal 
     and non-thermal mechanisms as a red herring, effectively 
     claiming that we can't move forward with any kind of 
     precautionary action until we know the mechanism. Let me 
     explain.
       When trying to link any given environmental exposure to a 
     health problem, scientists like to know exactly how it is 
     happening at the 10,000 foot level and at the micrometer 
     level. In other words, they like to be able to look over vast 
     numbers of people and compare who was exposed and who was not 
     exposed and show that there is a link there. But before they 
     conclude the link is rock solid, they also like to know what, 
     exactly, is happening at the cellular level--how are the 
     molecules changing in cells to make this happen? That is 
     called the mechanism. Scientists are hesitant to say with 
     certainty there is a link until that mechanism is nailed 
     down. And the mechanism is usually the last thing to be 
     discovered--usually years if not decades after epidemiology 
     first uncovers the problem.
       That's fine for scientists. But The NCI, the FCC, the FDA, 
     and Members of Congress are not scientists. We are policy 
     makers. And we have to look at things the scientists don't. 
     For example, we have to consider that we knew tobacco was 
     killing people in the 30s. The Surgeon General didn't even 
     weigh in until the 60s. And there was no substantive action 
     on cigarette bans until the mid 90s. In fact there are many 
     places in the US where you can still smoke in public places 
     even though it is well established that people die from 
     exposure to it. It is not an accident that almost 70 years 
     have passed and we're still fighting to protect public health 
     from tobacco. That was the result of a sophisticated campaign 
     to manufacture doubt in the mind of the public about the link 
     between cigarettes and health. What we have to consider as 
     policy makers, not scientists is this: How many people died 
     between the time we knew tobacco caused cancer and dozens of 
     other major lethal health problems and the time policy makers 
     took real action to protect the public and educate them?
       According to the Centers for Disease Control and 
     Prevention, ``Each year, an estimated 443,000 people die 
     prematurely from smoking or exposure to secondhand smoke, and 
     another 8.6 million live with a serious illness caused by 
     smoking.''
       So, yes, let's talk about what the non-thermal mechanisms 
     are. But let's not let that discussion get in the way when 
     millions of lives are at stake. If we see a danger or even a 
     potential danger to human health, we must act to protect 
     health before acting to protect profits.
       I announced that I would be introducing a bill that would 
     do three things. It would reestablish a research program in 
     the US to look at the health effects of cell phones. Almost 
     all meaningful research in the field is now done overseas, 
     save for a few selected pockets at places like the University 
     of Washington and Cleveland Clinic.
       Second, the bill would call for a real measure of exposure 
     to replace the inaccurate, misleading, and downright false 
     numbers used now to depict exposure levels. You know this 
     measurement as the Specific Absorption Rate, or SAR, and it 
     is mostly only accessible in places that are invisible to the 
     consumer as they shop for phones. The SAR has multiple 
     problems; among them is that they are designed for adults, 
     not children; they ignore the fields created by phones that 
     use increasing amounts of power, which smart phones do; and 
     the science has developed significantly since the standards 
     were set, mostly by engineers, not by people with medical 
     training.
       The third thing the bill would do is call for a label on 
     cell phones, using the new measure of exposure that is 
     created under this bill. Until we can say with greater 
     certainty whether this is a link between electromagnetic 
     radiation and various health problems, the consumer should be 
     able to decide what they want. But markets are not truly free 
     when the consumer has inadequate information. As it stands, 
     the consumer cannot practically know what a particular phone 
     or smart meter would expose them to. First the SAR is 
     obsolete, as I mentioned. Second, even if it were useful, the 
     SAR can't be readily accessed when buying a phone. We need 
     labels.
       The bill has already accumulated cosponsors and I am 
     awaiting the right moment to introduce it. It will not be 
     easy to make legislative progress because of the enormous 
     financial resources the industry has at its disposal. They 
     have already tried a few tricks to get us to pony up 
     information about the bill's contents, timing and strategy. 
     But I am convinced we can make legislative progress anyway. 
     We just have to be very strategic about it.
       I am also keeping a close eye on the other uses for 
     wireless technology. Certainly there are a lot of questions 
     about the dangers posed by towers. Increasingly, we're seeing 
     popular resistance to smart meters as well because of the 
     additional exposure they cause. And the wireless spectrum is 
     being sold off to make room for more wireless gadgets like 
     keyboards.
       The use of the radiofrequency spectrum is one of three 
     emerging technologies that are proof for the maxim that we 
     are developing technology faster than our ability to manage 
     it. Another textbook case is nanotechnology, which is 
     proliferating by leaps and bounds while research on the 
     effects on the environment and health is slowly lumbering 
     along. What little research we have seen to date is deeply 
     concerning. The third case, of course, is genetically 
     engineered food; another topic which I have held hearings on.
       In each of these cases, any progress that has been made has 
     only come as a result of the efforts of a thoughtful, 
     dedicated few who have raised the hard questions for industry 
     and for policy makers. It is a privilege to join you in your 
     efforts to put public health over private profit. Thank you 
     again for the invitation to be with you today.

[[Page E1856]]



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