The three most common brain tumor types — and the ones most cellphone and human health studies focused on — are gliomas (malignant tumors of the brain and spinal cord), meningiomas (mostly noncancerous tumors of the membranes surrounding the brain and spinal cord, though a small percentage are cancerous), and acoustic neuromas (noncancerous tumors on the main nerve that leads from the inner ear to the brain). Note that of these, gliomas are the main concern — they generally have more severe outcomes than meningiomas and acoustic neuromas.
Peer review is a vital part of any scientific study; it brings several more lifetimes of expertise into the room to rigorously check a study for any weak points. Melnick calls the peer reviewers’ choice to change some conclusions an unusual move; “It’s quite uncommon that the peer review panel changes the final determination,” he says, noting if anything, he’s seen peer reviewers downgrade findings, not upgrade them. “Typically when NTP presents their findings, the peer review almost in all cases goes along with that.” In this case, the peer reviewers felt the data—when combined with their knowledge of the cancers and with the study design itself—was significant enough to upgrade several of the findings.
When you make a phone call, just flip the shielded front cover down when you put the phone against your head. It’s that simple. By keeping the shielded front cover closed while against any part of your body, a barrier is created to protect from a broad spectrum of potentially harmful cell phone radiation emissions, yet won’t affect signal quality. You can use your cell phone with a higher sense of safety by simply keeping the shielded flip cover between your body and radiation-emitting source.
The tricky part about measuring the radiation from a cell phone is that the emission strength varies widely over time. There will be strong bursts of varying intensity, followed by quiet periods. This makes it hard to compare "apples to apples". Also, because you are measuring up close to the source, you must use a near field meter AND you must maintain the position of the meter very precisely.
For example, cellphone manufacturers currently test these devices for compliance with FCC standards by placing them against the head, and near the torso with some separation. Just check out Apple’s iPhone manual: The company tests the specific absorption rate at a 5mm separation from the body. But if you wear your device in your pocket, you’re probably not going to have that 5mm separation, meaning you may be exposed to more radiation — perhaps enough to exceed current standards.
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%.
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Some products (http://www.safecell.net/reports01.html for example) are tested using a piece of shielding material in a laboratory test jig. These tests legitimately show the amount of radiation which penetrates the shield, but results will be very different when compared to putting a small amount of the same shield on a large transmitter like a cellphone. Remember, the entire phone radiates. Placing a small amount of shielding, even if it is an effective shielding material, only shields that small area at best. Think about this analogy: no light will penetrate a penny as it is a very effective light shield, but it is silly to think that holding a penny up to the sun will put you in darkness.
"On the same [IARC] scale that said phone use was possibly carcinogenic, smoking is at the highest level. They are class 1 carcinogens; that's beyond doubt, they definitely do cause cancer ... There's an absolute difference between substances, where the evidence says that there is no doubt about the fact that they cause cancer, compared to mobile phones, where they say it is still possible because the data over ten years use still isn't in."
Some studies have found a possible link. For example, several studies published by the same research group in Sweden have reported an increased risk of tumors on the side of the head where the cell phone was held, particularly with 10 or more years of use. It is hard to know what to make of these findings because most studies by other researchers have not had the same results, and there is no overall increase in brain tumors in Sweden during the years that correspond to these reports.
One of the studies reports that male rats exposed to very high levels of radiofrequency radiation grew tumors around their hearts. Female rats exposed to the radiation didn’t, and neither male nor female mice showed obvious health problems in a second study. Neither study turned up clear evidence that radiofrequency radiation causes brain tumors, although the researchers are continuing to investigate. The studies are drafts that haven’t yet been reviewed by outside scientists.
Just why Schwann and glial cells appear to be targets of cell phone radiation is not clear. David Carpenter, a physician who directs the Institute for Health and the Environment at the University at Albany, S.U.N.Y., explained the purpose of these cells is to insulate nerve fibers throughout the body. These are electrical systems, so that may be some sort of factor, he wrote in an e-mail. “But this is only speculation.”
That’s because cell phones emit electromagnetic fields (EMFs) or electromagnetic radiation, which has the potential to damage the cells in the body. In fact, the International Agency for Research on Cancer classifies EMFs from cell phones as possible carcinogens. EMFs can interfere with the body’s natural electrical system and disrupt sleep, immune system function, hormone production, and the healing process. Kevin Byrne, president of EMF Solutions, also points out the simultaneous increase in conditions such as chronic pain, depression, anxiety, chronic fatigue syndrome, and Alzheimer’s disease and the significant rise in EMF exposure.
Searching PubMed for studies published in the past 10 years, we found 102 studies that ultimately resulted in 12 relevant systematic reviews. To limit bias in our assessment of the literature, we used a validated critical appraisal tool called AMSTAR to determine the quality of each review. Eight of the reviews were critically low quality, two were low quality, and two were moderate quality.
But the pair of studies by the US National Toxicology Program found “clear evidence” that exposure to radiation caused heart tumors in male rats, and found “some evidence” that it caused tumors in the brains of male rats. (Both are positive results; the NTP uses the labels “clear evidence,” “some evidence,” “equivocal evidence” and “no evidence” when making conclusions.)
The FCC has yet to implement GAO’s recommendations to more closely reflect real-life use. For a narrow subset of smartphones – those sold with lanyards or straps – the FCC advises manufacturers to test phones at a distance of no more than 5 mm from the body (FCC 2014). Yet the FCC has done nothing to ensure more realistic testing of most other smartphones or to account for the widespread use of accessories such as cases, which many different manufacturers produce with both metallic and non-metallic components.
Experts consulted by France considered it was mandatory that the main antenna axis should not to be directly in front of a living place at a distance shorter than 100 metres. This recommendation was modified in 2003 to say that antennas located within a 100-metre radius of primary schools or childcare facilities should be better integrated into the cityscape and was not included in a 2005 expert report. The Agence française de sécurité sanitaire environnementale (fr) as of 2009, says that there is no demonstrated short-term effect of electromagnetic fields on health, but that there are open questions for long-term effects, and that it is easy to reduce exposure via technological improvements.
* This specification establishes the requirements for heat-sealable, electrostatic protective, flexible barrier materials used for the military packaging of microcircuits, sensitive semiconductor devices, sensitive resistors, and associated higher assemblies. In addition, the type I materials provide for water vapor-proof protection and attenuation of electromagnetic radiation.
The frequency of radiofrequency electromagnetic radiation ranges from 30 kilohertz (30 kHz, or 30,000 Hz) to 300 gigahertz (300 GHz, or 300 billion Hz). Electromagnetic fields in the radiofrequency range are used for telecommunications applications, including cell phones, televisions, and radio transmissions. The human body absorbs energy from devices that emit radiofrequency electromagnetic radiation. The dose of the absorbed energy is estimated using a measure called the specific absorption rate (SAR), which is expressed in watts per kilogram of body weight.