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U.S. regulators warned a technical panel Friday to promptly develop tests for determining safe levels of wireless phone emissions or face standards imposed by the Federal Communications Commission.
Manufacturers such as Motorola Inc. and Nokia Oyj use different methods for testing microwave radiation from cellular phones. The lack of standards can skew the test results.
"We renew our call for the standard-setting committees to develop specific uniform procedures and methodologies for testing cell phone radio frequency emissions," the FCC said. "This will help reduce any uncertainty over appropriate techniques for evaluating cell phones for compliance with safety limits."
The ABC News 20/20 broadcast this week said preliminary studies showed possible increased risk of cancers and genetic damage from frequent use of cellular phones. The cellular phone industry defends the safety of the phones.
The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, an expert panel of industry and government leaders, is working to establish a recommended practice for testing and plans to complete its work early next year, an FCC official said.
The group is studying the factors used to test the phones, including the position in which the phone is held and the form of the human head.
If the committee doesn't produce a plan as scheduled, then the FCC "will mandate action on its own."
Even with new guidelines, the FCC still does not plan to test the phones, relying instead on industry analysis, the official said.
The agency will evaluate the industry test results and will query the company if it decides more information is needed.
Further, the commission plans to buy its own testing equipment within a month and will then have the capacity to test phones when it feels a situation warrants it, the FCC said.