For just about as long as mobile phones have been available, there has been talk potential long-term side effects that might come from holding a small radio-emitting piece of technology next to your brain. While most consumers don't give it a second thought these days, the FCC is reportedly planning to investigate whether its current standards properly protect people from mobile phone radiation. Chairman Julius Genachowski (pictured above) is planning to ask the FCC commissioners to approve a notice that would kick off a formal inquiry into the Commission's formal standards — though an FCC spokesperson was quick to note that "we are confident that, as set, the emissions guidelines for devices pose no risks to consumers."

Still, it sounds like a review at this point is reasonable — the last time the FCC updated its guidelines which set maximum radiation exposure levels was back in 1996, and mobile phone technology (as well as usage frequency) has changed dramatically since then, to say the least. The FCC's data notes that there were about 44 million US citizens with cell phones in 1996, compared to the current estimate 332 million wireless subscribers (from CTIA). While we're still a ways off from hearing new information from the FCC, it'll certainly be interesting to see if the high technology most of us now carry in our pockets has more severe effects than what people used some 16 years ago.