There’s a broad range of radiation types, and lots of harmless things emit radiation — like bananas, Brazil nuts, and granite countertops, according to Cincinnati Children’s Hospital. The type of radiation that comes out of our cellphones isn’t the same radiation that’s released by nuclear fallout or X-rays. Cellphone radiation, also known as radiofrequency radiation, is much weaker — so it can’t cause the same kind of cell damage that can lead to cancer.
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.
The cellular phone industry was born in the early 1980s, when communications technology that had been developed for the Department of Defense was put into commerce by companies focusing on profits. This group, with big ideas but limited resources, pressured government regulatory agencies—particularly the Food and Drug Administration (FDA)—to allow cell phones to be sold without pre-market testing. The rationale, known as the “low power exclusion,” distinguished cell phones from dangerous microwave ovens based on the amount of power used to push the microwaves. At that time, the only health effect seen from microwaves involved high power strong enough to heat human tissue. The pressure worked, and cell phones were exempted from any type of regulatory oversight, an exemption that continues today. An eager public grabbed up the cell phones, but according to Dr. George Carlo, “Those phones were slowly prompting a host of health problems.”
In addition, cellphones potentially harm our health in ways that have nothing to do with cancer. The effect on sperm is concerning to Moskowitz, the director of the Center for Family and Community Health at the Berkeley School of Public Health, and he noted that our current cellphone regulations also don’t account for these potential effects. Plus, we still don’t know what steady exposure to this kind of radiation from devices means for kids.
“One thing all these conditions have in common is a disruption, to varying degrees, of intercellular communication. When we were growing up, TV antennas were on top of our houses and such waves were up in the sky. Cell phones and Wi-Fi have brought those things down to the street, integrated them into the environment, and that’s absolutely new. The recognition mechanism, where protein vibration sensors on the cell membrane pick up a signal and interpret it as an invader, only works because the body recognizes something it’s never seen before.”
“The exposures used in the studies cannot be compared directly to the exposure that humans experience when using a cell phone,” John Bucher, a senior scientist at the NTP, a government program within the department of Health and Human Services, says in a press release. “In our studies, rats and mice received radio frequency radiation across their whole bodies. By contrast, people are mostly exposed in specific local tissues close to where they hold the phone. In addition, the exposure levels and durations in our studies were greater than what people experience.”
Changing technology and methods of use. Older studies evaluated radiofrequency radiation exposure from analog cell phones. Today, cell phones use digital technology, which operates at a different frequency and a lower power level than analog phones. Digital cell phones have been in use for more than two decades in the United States, and cellular technology continues to change (3). Texting and other applications, for example, are common uses of cell phones that do not require bringing the phone close to the head. Furthermore, the use of hands-free technology, such as wired and wireless headsets, is increasing and may reduce exposure by distancing the phone from the body (36, 37).
But he cautioned that the exposure levels and durations were far greater than what people typically encounter, and thus cannot “be compared directly to the exposure that humans experience.” Moreover, the rat study examined the effects of a radio frequency associated with an early generation of cellphone technology, one that fell out of routine use years ago. Any concerns arising from the study thus would seem to apply mainly to early adopters who used those bygone devices, not to users of current models.
Well, Loyd really does seems like a guy with great intentions! However, he has put too much faith in Pong’s SAR testing, and SAR guidelines in general — to the point he no-longer believes his own eye’s when nothing is observed on his trusty RF meter. Which proves (Using an RF Meter) there is absolutely no real reduction in actual radiation coming from the front of the phone when a pong cell phone case is used.
The phone is placed in various positions on the head and body, including held to both ears, and all measurements are taken and reported to the FCC when the manufacturer is seeking approval. However, it should be noted that only the very highest SAR values for each type of radiation are included in final consideration for compliance with the FCC’s guidelines.
Until the FCC establishes testing procedures that fully correspond to real-world cell phone use and reviews its radiation standards to ensure that they are fully protective for all users, including young children, EWG advises phone users to adopt these simple measures to minimize radiation exposure: Use a headset, keep the phone away from the body and text rather than talk.
Mobile phone use and the development of tumors in the exposure area. Accordingly, Dr. Elisabeth Cardis from the International Agency for Research on Cancer - IARC, started organizing a study (the INTERPHONE) with the participation of 16 sites worldwide, in the purpose of assessing whether use of mobile phones is connected with an increased risk for developing brain tumors (benign and malignant), auditory nerve tumor and salivary gland tumors. The purpose of the cooperation was to reach a satisfactory sample size that could answer the question from the statistical aspect and also to establish a situation where the study represents enough subjects who have used the mobile phone over a relatively long period (at least 10 years). In Israel, the study was conducted by Dr. Siegal Sadetzki, Director of the Cancer Epidemiology and Radiation Unit at the Gertner Institute, Sheba Hospital.
There is a degree of controversy surrounding the implications of cell phone radiation, and what it means to our health. Some research has suggested that the type of radio frequencies used by cell phones can speed up the progression of cancer in laboratory test animals, but it has proven difficult to replicate these results. It is known that radiation from cell phones can affect pacemakers, but the main concern is related to the fact that most cell phone users hold the phone against their ear. If significant levels of radiation enter the tissues of the head in this way over time, some worry that this can increase the likelihood of brain tumors and related conditions.
"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."
Epidemiology studies investigating cell phone use patterns with human cancer risk have produced inconsistent results. Some studies enrolled people who already had tumors with suspected links to RF radiation, such as gliomas, acoustic neuromas and salivary gland tumors. Researchers compared the self-reported cell phone use habits of the cancer patients with those of other people who did not have the same diseases. Other studies enrolled people while they were still healthy, and then followed them over time to see if new cancer diagnoses tracked with how they used cell phones. All the epidemiology studies, however, have troubling limitations, including that enrolled subjects often do not report their cell phone use habits accurately on questionnaires.
As a result, stories about a single nuclear meltdown or possible link between cellphone radiation and cancer will be amplified much more than news about the nine people who probably died today in the US from distracted driving. “This possible health effect from radiation is pretty esoteric at this point. If there is anything there, it seems to me like it’s going to be very, very small,” says Kenneth R. Foster, a bioengineering professor at the University of Pennsylvania who has been investigating whether there are biological effects from radio waves since the 1970s. “Driving and texting, people get killed doing that — but it’s not a very exciting risk to worry about.”
With the background levels of information-carrying radio waves dramatically increasing because of the widespread use of cell phones,Wi-Fi, and other wireless communication, the effects from the near and far-fields are very similar. Overall, says Dr. Carlo, almost all of the acute and chronic symptoms seen in electrosensitive patients can be explained in some part by disrupted intercellular communication. These symptoms of electrosensitivity include inability to sleep, general malaise, and headaches. Could this explain the increase in recent years of conditions such as attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), autism, and anxiety disorder?
The device comes in a variety of forms ranging from the $39 Aries Shield ("a silicon based micro processor that ... decomposes oscillations of electromagnetic fields") to the $249 Aires Defender Utility (which "has two next generation 9 core silicon based micro processor (sic) that provide universal protection from electromagnetic smog of the broadband frequencies").
But there is also some ambiguity about cellphone radiation’s health effects. As Dr. John Bucher, a senior scientist at the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences and a co-author of the NIH studies, told me, “[Our results] go against the notion that non-ionizing radiation is completely harmless.” In other words, he’s found that the type of radiation cellphones give off could cause biological changes, like promoting tumors, at least in animals.
In fact, nobody can really explain how exactly cellphone radiation could cause cancer, says Christopher Labos, a cardiologist and biostatistician at McGill University. “You don’t necessarily have to understand how something works to prove that it’s dangerous, but it would certainly make the case more compelling,” says Labos, who wrote a detailed analysis for Science-Based Medicine about the recent government cellphone radiation study.
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.
A few epidemiology studies have reported higher rates of tumors inside the skull among people who use cell phones heavily for 10 years or more. Of particular concern are benign Schwann cell tumors called acoustic neuromas, which affect nerve cells connecting the inner ear with structures inside the brain. These growths can in some instances progress to malignant cancer with time. But other studies have found no evidence of acoustic neuromas or brain tumors in heavy cell phone users.
There are theoretical considerations as to why the possible risk should be investigated separately in children. Their nervous systems are still developing and, therefore, more vulnerable to factors that may cause cancer. Their heads are smaller than those of adults and consequently have a greater proportional exposure to the field of radiofrequency radiation that is emitted by cell phones. And, children have the potential of accumulating more years of cell phone exposure than adults do.
In conclusion: It is still unclear whether use of cellular technology is associated with an increased risk to develop malignant and benign tumors, but taking into account the results of recent studies, the Ministry of Health adopts the precautionary principle and follows the recommendations listed in the “Ministry of Health Recommendations” (below).
The cell phone industry is fully aware of the dangers. In fact, enough scientific evidence exists that some companies’ service contracts prohibit suing the cell phone manufacturer or service provider, or joining a class action lawsuit. Still, the public is largely ignorant of the dangers, while the media regularly trumpets new studies showing cell phones are completely safe to use. Yet, Dr. Carlo points out, “None of those studies can prove safety, no matter how well they’re conducted or who’s conducting them.” What’s going on here? While the answer in itself is simplistic, how we got to this point is complex.
The 13-country INTERPHONE study, the largest case-control study done to date, looked at cell phone use among more than 5,000 people who developed brain tumors (gliomas or meningiomas) and a similar group of people without tumors. Overall, the study found no link between brain tumor risk and the frequency of calls, longer call time, or cell phone use for 10 or more years. There was a suggestion of a possible increased risk of glioma, and a smaller suggestion of an increased risk of meningioma, in the 10% of people who used their cell phones the most. But this finding was hard to interpret because some people in the study reported implausibly high cell phone use, as well as other issues. The researchers noted that the shortcomings of the study prevented them from drawing any firm conclusions, and that more research was needed.