A third requirement was for the FDA to create a formal interagency working group to oversee the work and provide input. The purpose of this was to alleviate any perception that the industry was paying for a result, not for the research itself. But the fourth and last requirement was considered by Dr. Carlo to be highly critical: “Everything needed to be done in sunlight. The media had to have access to everything we did.”
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Dr. Carlo, however, refused to be an easy target. He quickly recruited a group of prominent scientists to work with him, bulletproof experts owning long lists of credentials and reputations that would negate any perception that the research was predestined to be a sham. He also created a Peer Review Board chaired by Harvard University School of Public Health’s Dr. John Graham, something that made FDA officials more comfortable since, at the time, the agency was making negative headlines due to the breast implant controversy. In total, more than 200 doctors and scientists were involved in the project.
The Specific Absorption Rate test uses sophisticated instruments to measure the amount of radiation absorbed into the body, usually the head. At present, the generally recognized limit for absorbed electromagnetic energy is 1.6 watts per kilogram. All cell phones sold must be tested and have their compliance with this standard certified by their manufacturer. The electromagnetic fields from a cell phone depend upon the design of the cell phone and its antenna,how it operates, as well as how it is held and used. Tests conducted by the ABC show 20/20 has found that some of the country’s most popular cell phones can – depending on how they’re held – exceed the radiation limit. A cell phone’s antenna radiates in all directions. The health concern is about the radiation actually absorbed into the head, which is where cell phones are usually held. SAR tests conducted on the SAR Shield show that the product reduces SAR radiation by as much as 89%.
Several studies have investigated the other health effects (other than cancer) of mobile phone usage on human health. Hypotheses connecting mobile phone use to effects such as headaches, fatigue, sleep disorders, memory, vision or hearing impairment, have not been proven in established studies. A connection with reduced fertility has also not been scientifically proven.
While talking on your cell phone, prefer to position the cell phone away from your body as far as possible. Whenever possible, use the speakerphone mode or an airtube wired headset (not a wireless headset, not a wireless earpiece). The electromagnetic field (radiation) is one-fourth the strength at a distance of two inches and fifty times lower at three feet.
Manufacturers conduct government-required certification tests using a bare phone, set to transmit at maximum power, with no accessories. The recorded maximum SAR is reported to the FCC and listed in the phone’s manual. A phone tested with accessories under the same conditions can produce a higher SAR because the materials surrounding the antenna can affect the amount of radiation that reaches and is absorbed by the user’s body. A case can influence both the overall amount of emitted radiation and how it is directed.
In a February 2 statement, Jeffrey Shuren, director of the FDA’s Center for Devices and Radiological Health, wrote that despite the NTP study’s results, the combined evidence on RF exposure and human cancer—which by now amounts to hundreds of studies—has “given us confidence that the current safety limits for cell phone radiation remain acceptable for protecting the public health.” Chonock says that for him, evidence from the Ramazzini study does not alter that conclusion. “We continue to agree with the FDA statement,” he says.
Asked about his own cellphone use, Dr. Bucher said he had never been a heavy user but, in light of the study, was now “a little more aware” of his usage. On long calls, he said, he tried to use earbuds or find other ways “of increasing the distance” between the cellphone and his body, in keeping with advice issued to consumers about how to lower their exposure.
When called to help with the cell phone issue, Dr. Carlo was working with the FDA on silicone breast implant research. The choice of Dr. Carlo to head WTR seemed unusual to industry observers. An epidemiologist whose expertise was in public health and how epidemic diseases affect the population, he appeared to lack any experience in researching the effects of EMR on human biology. Based on this, a premature conclusion was drawn by many: Dr. Carlo was an “expert” handpicked by the cell phone industry, and therefore his conclusions would only back up the industry’s claim that cell phones are safe.
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In subsequent analyses of Interphone data, investigators addressed issues of risk according to specific location of the tumor and estimated exposures. One analysis of data from seven of the countries in the Interphone study found no relationship between brain tumor location and regions of the brain that were exposed to the highest level of radiofrequency radiation from cell phones (9). However, another study, using data from five of the countries, reported suggestions of an increased risk of glioma and, to a lesser extent, of meningioma developing in areas of the brain experiencing the highest exposure (10).