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'Inconclusive' Science

N.H. House Panel Nixes RF Safety Bill, Supports Public Safety Study

The New Hampshire House Science, Technology and Energy Committee unanimously rejected an RF safety bill, which would have required warnings on 5G towers. In addition, the lawmakers approved a measure 20-0 that addresses public safety agencies’ access to cell towers, dropping a requirement that would give agencies access to towers in favor of more study.

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The RF safety bill provides no new information and studies are “inconclusive as to cause and effect,” said Rep. Douglas Thomas (R), committee vice chair. HB-1487 is “all over the place” and “just not a workable bill,” he said. Thomas said some people may be suffering adverse health effects from RF emissions, but that hasn’t been proven. “While we’d like to do something,” it’s not clear what, he said.

The proposed legislation “strongly encourages” that N.H. move forward with fiber deployment and other wired and optical wireless connections “to serve all commercial and public properties statewide.” It urges healthcare facilities to “establish RF-radiation free zones where employees and visitors can seek refuge from the effects of wireless RF-radiation.” It proposes to mandate RF warning signs near 5G antennas and requires releasing a map of RF-radiation exposure levels across the state.

The bill raises issues “that we should take seriously,” said Rep. Chris Muns (D). A state 5G commission that studied RF safety (see 2011020046) did a lot of work and some of its recommendations should probably be implemented, he said. The bill as written “has a lot of issues and I have concerns,” particularly with language that would force school districts to move away from using wireless to access the internet, Muns said: “It’s way too premature to be doing that right now.”

The bill “wants to spend a fair amount of money but appropriates zero money … making it unworkable as it’s filed,” said committee Chair Michael Vose (R). “There is a lack of good science out there … and with the lack of good science mythology tends to come out,” said Lucius Parshall (D). Parshall said he supports the thrust of the bill.

Meanwhile, the committee endorsed, as amended, legislation addressing public safety agencies’ access to wireless facilities.

We have gaps in both radio and broadband communications coverage for police, fire and other responders, and we need a mechanism” to fix that, said Rep. J.D. Bernardy (R), a sponsor of the legislation. As amended, HB-1078 examines gaps in coverage and makes recommendations on strategies to address the problem, he said.

The amendment drops language in the original legislation that would have given first responders access to the uppermost 20 feet on any new antenna mounts or towers, Bernardy said. “That was deemed not an appropriate bill,” he added.

The original bill probably wasn’t the right approach and the amendment will require the state to “go take a real look at the problem and gather the information needed to craft an actual solution,” said Rep. Ned Raynolds (D).

Lawmakers “need to find out what’s going on out there in the commercial world -- how come we’re having issues occasionally with critical communications involving safety, first responders,” Thomas said. We need to investigate "and find out what can be done to make this better,” he said.

Given all of the wireless industry’s efforts in working with our public safety partners, there is concern that House Bill 1078 would move New Hampshire in the wrong direction, especially given that our industry is unaware of existing difficulties with public safety colocation on wireless infrastructure,” CTIA said in a Jan. 15 letter to leaders of the committee about the original version of the bill. CTIA didn’t comment Tuesday.