That mystery probably stokes fears about cellphone radiation instead of soothing them, though — in part because of how we in the media cover the rare and frightening. We’ve seen the same thing with fear over nuclear power plants, according to a paper published in Science in the 1980s by psychologist Paul Slovic. “Because nuclear risks are perceived as unknown and potentially catastrophic, even small accidents will be highly publicized and may produce large ripple effects,” Slovic wrote.
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.
Instead of more animal and even epidemiological studies, he thinks researchers should focus on finding the mechanisms by which cellphone radiation may affect human health. Since we’ll never have an RCT on cellphones and cancer, he added, studies should measure actual cellphone use and exposure to radio-frequency radiation, instead of estimations of how much people are exposed (which most studies currently do).
There was also “equivocal” evidence that it raised the risk of heart conditions, and led to evidence of DNA damage. Baby rats born to mothers during the trial had lower birth weights. The scientists also found a statistically significant increase in lymphoma (cancer of the lymph nodes) among female mice and heightened rates of liver cancer in the male mice. All those findings were labeled “equivocal.”
In December, 2006, an epidemiological study on cell phone dangers published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute sent the media into a frenzy.10 Newspaper headlines blared: “Danish Study Shows Cell Phone Use is Safe,” while TV newscasters proclaimed, “Go ahead and talk all you want—it’s safe!” The news seemed to be a holiday gift for cell phone users. But unfortunately, it’s a flawed study, funded by the cell phone industry and designed to bring a positive result. The industry’s public relations machine is working in overdrive to assure that the study get top-billing in the media worldwide.
Since speaking with Samet, further details came out from a large study that beamed high levels of phone radiation at rats and mice. While there remain quirks in the findings, the latest evidence still doesn’t find a link between phone radiation and cancer. In response, the FDA said, “Taken together, all of this research ... [has] given us the confidence that the current safety limits for cell phone radiation remain acceptable for protecting the public health.”
The amount of RF energy absorbed from the phone into the user’s body is known as the specific absorption rate (SAR). Different cell phones have different SAR levels. Cell phone makers are required to report the maximum SAR level of their product to the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC). This information can often be found on the manufacturer’s website or in the user manual for the phone. The upper limit of SAR allowed in the United States is 1.6 watts per kilogram (W/kg) of body weight.
The effect of mobile phone radiation on human health is a subject of interest and study worldwide, as a result of the enormous increase in mobile phone usage throughout the world. As of 2015, there were 7.4 billion subscriptions worldwide, though the actual number of users is lower as many users own more than one mobile phone. Mobile phones use electromagnetic radiation in the microwave range (450–3800 MHz and 24-80GHz in 5G mobile). Other digital wireless systems, such as data communication networks, produce similar radiation.
Among the hundreds of smartphone cases available for iPhone and a bevy of popular Android phones, there are some that claim to reduce the amount of radiation your body absorbs when you have the handset close to your body. Pong Research is a US brand that offers a range of products fitting this description, as is Cellsafe, a company based in Victoria, Australia.
It’s easy to call any case a product designed to block smartphone radiation. What you need to look for is credible, quantifiable claims that highlight a case’s ability to reduce your exposure to the harmful radiation. Look for relevant certifications from credible organizations (such as FCC accredited laboratories) that will vouch for product claims, and read product reviews online.
Our tests wre conducted with three RF meters, set at fixed position next to the iPhone. Our primary meter was the Gigahertz Solutions HFE 59B, a professional RF instrument. We also used a TES 593 (Mid-Range Consumer Grade Instrument) and the Acousticom 2 (Low-Range Consumer Grade Instrument) to compare/confirm the increases and decreases in RF and for visual reference.
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.)
These experimental findings raise new questions as to the potential for radiofrequency radiation to result in cellular changes and offer potential avenues for further laboratory studies. Cancers in the heart are extremely rare in humans, where the primary outcomes of potential concern with respect to radiofrequency radiation exposure from cell phones are tumors in the brain and central nervous system. Schwann cells of the heart in rodents are similar to the kind of cells in humans that give rise to acoustic neuromas (also known as vestibular schwannomas), which some studies have suggested are increased in people who reported the heaviest use of cell phones. The NTP has stated that they will continue to study this exposure in animal models to further advance our understanding of the biological underpinnings of the effects reported above.
The CERENAT study, another case–control study conducted in multiple areas in France from 2004 to 2006 using data collected in face-to-face interviews using standardized questionnaires (18). This study found no association for either gliomas or meningiomas when comparing regular cell phone users with non-users. However, the heaviest users had significantly increased risks of both gliomas and meningiomas.