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United States Environmental Protection Agency
Washington, D.C. 20460 April 30, 1999
 

Mr. Dale Hatfield
Chief, Office of Engineering and Technology
Federal Communications Commission
445 12th Street, SW
Washington, DC 20554


Dear Mr. Hatfield:

We have recently been contracted by persons involved in the controversy over the digital broadcast tower proposed to be erected on Lookout Mountain in Golden, Colorado. Some of these persons are concerned that your Commission's radio frequency (RF) exposure guidelines have been misinterpreted, and have asked us to clarify the underlying science upon which the guidelines have been based.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) have worked cooperatively on radio frequency issues for several years. Nowhere is this more apparent in the case of the final RF exposure guidelines issued by the FCC in 1996. In response to comments submitted by EPA, and other federal health agencies, FCC promulgated more stringent guidelines than originally proposed. Our support for these final guidelines was contained in a letter of July 25, 1996, from the Administrator of EPA to the Chairman of the FCC.

The FCC guidelines expressly take into account thermal effects of RF energy, but do not directly address postulated non-thermal effects, such as those due to chronic exposure. That is the case largely because of the paucity of scientific research on chronic, non-thermal health effects. The information base on non-thermal effects has not changed significantly since the EPA's original comments in 1993 and 1996. A few studies report that at non-thermal levels, long term exposure to RF energy may have biological consequences. The majority of currently available studies suggests, however, that there are no significant non-thermal human health hazards. It therefore continues to be EPA's view that the FCC exposure guidelines adequately protect the public from all scientifically established harms that may result from RF energy fields generated by FCC licensees.

I hope this letter has clarified EPA's position regarding the FCC's RF exposure guidelines. I look forward to further cooperation between our agencies.

Sincerely yours,



Robert Brenner
Acting Deputy Assistant Administrator
For Air and Radiation