Parents and consumer advocacy groups occasionally capture attention for voicing concerns about cellphones and other types of non-ionizing radio-frequency radiation exposure, such as the energy emitted from wifi routers in schools. In some cases, they have exaggerated what we know about the risks to kids, and rarely note that cellphones are also just one of many radiation sources we all live with. (Even the Earth itself, the air we breathe, and the sun and stars in our galaxy constantly give off radiation.)
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.”
Dr Devra Davis is an internationally recognised expert on electromagnetic radiation from mobile phones and other wireless transmitting devices. She is currently the Visiting Professor of Medicine at the Hebrew University Hadassah Medical School, and Visiting Professor of Medicine at Ondokuz Mayis University, Turkey. Dr Davis was Founding Director of the Center for Environmental Oncology at The University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute — the first institute of its kind in the world, to examine the environmental factors that contribute to the majority of cases of cancer.
When turned on, cell phones and other wireless devices emit RF radiation continually, even if they are not being actively used, because they are always communicating with cell towers. The dose intensity tails off with increasing distance from the body, and reaches a maximum when the devices are used next to the head during phone calls or in front of the body during texting or tweeting.
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.”
The dangers of driving and texting are old news; if someone were to be harmed by their cellphone’s radiation, though, that would make headlines because novelty grabs people’s attention. In psychological experiments where people have to choose images, they gravitate towards ones they haven’t seen before — a phenomenon known as the novelty bonus. So if I wanted to grab a reader’s attention, I’d bet on a hypothetical headline that said “For the first time, cellphone radiation causes brain cancer in humans” over “Another person has died today from driving and texting.”
A study by the Corporate EME Research Laboratory and Motorola Florida Research Laboratories tested 9 different cell phone radiation shields, 5 of which claimed to block 99% of cell phone radiation. The other 4 shields tested claimed to emit a reverse radiation that would cancel out the harmful radiation from cell phones. The study found that all of the radiation shields had no effect on the amount of radiofrequency radiation a cell phone user is exposed to from their phone.
to find the minimum distance the federal government recommends that your cell phone must be away from your body. Keeping it closer than the designated distance can result in a violation of the FCC Exposure Limit. Exceeding FCC levels is proven to result in burns, sterility and brain damage. Learn more about fine print instructions and see all the FCC warnings here.
As in the NTP study, Ramazzini investigators detected statistically elevated rates of heart schwannomas in male rats at the highest dose. They also had weaker findings linking RF exposure to cancer of glial cells in the brain, which were limited to females. Ronald Melnick, a retired NTP toxicologist who designed the NTP study, says a measure of consistency between the two studies is important, because “reproducibility in science increases our confidence in the observed results.”
* 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.
These cases work by redirecting the electromagnetic radiation (EMR) that is produced by phones, away from the user. All phones produce EMR when connected to the mobile network, and the effect of this energy is measured as a Specific Absorption Rate, or SAR: a measurement describing the radiation absorbed by kilogram of tissue. Government regulations in Australia dictate that all phones in Australia must emit a SAR less than 2 W/kg under the worst case scenario, and while all phones comply, most modern phones emit, at most, only half of this safe level, or approximately 1 W/kg.
From the FCC website: "The FCC ID number is usually shown somewhere on the case of the phone or device. In many cases, you will have to remove the battery pack to find the number. Once you have the number proceed as follows. Go to the following Web address: www.fcc.gov/oet/ea/fccid. Once you are there... Enter the FCC ID number (in two parts as indicated: 'Grantee Code' is comprised of the first three characters, the 'Equipment Product Code' is the remainder of the FCC ID). Then click on 'Start Search.' The grant of equipment authorization for this particular ID number should appear. The highest SAR values reported in the equipment certification test data are usually included in the comments section of the grant of equipment certification."
Unfortunately, however, we’ll probably never have an RCT on cellphones and cancer in humans. It’d be too difficult and too expensive to randomly assign particular levels of cellphone use to thousands of people and have them stick with those plans for enough time (we’re talking at least five years) to figure out whether certain types of phones or phone use patterns cause cancer to develop. That’s not to mention the fact it’d be nearly impossible to find a group of people willing to not use cellphones and then make sure they actually stick to their promise.
Pong’s research indicates that badly designed cell phone cases can partially block a phone’s antenna, making the device work harder to transmit signals. Due to gaps in the FCC’s cell phone regulations, a phone worn right next to the body and enclosed by a case that obstructs the antenna could expose the user to more radiation than the FCC’s legal limit.