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A Report on Non-Ionizing Radiation

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April 13, 2005

Could cell phone radiation actually protect against brain cancer? Could it provide “vitamins for the brain”, as one irreverent epidemiologist suggested recently? Such a possibility, however improbable, is not as far fetched as it may sound.

Radar Gun Parallels

April 8, 2005

Fire fighters want to know if placing cell phone towers on fire stations puts them at risk. Until a study can provide some reassurance that there is no radiation hazard, the International Association of Fire Fighters wants to ban antennas from fire stations.

March 29, 2005

Bill Guy says that he didn’t do it, that he didn’t call NIH, that he didn’t try to shut down Henry Lai’s work on microwave-induced DNA breaks. (See "Wake-Up Call.")

In a letter to Microwave News, Guy wrote: “I most vehemently and unequivocally deny that I, or anybody that I am aware of, made any calls to NIH...”

March 11, 2005

The March issue of the University of Washington alumni magazine, Columns, features a well-deserved tribute to Henry Lai and his colleague, N.P. Singh, who have demonstrated that low-level microwave radiation can lead to an increase in DNA breaks in the brain cells of rats (available online). The headline of the piece tells the story: “Wake-Up Call: Can Radiation from Cell Phones Damage DNA in Our Brains? When a UW Researcher Found Disturbing Data, Funding Became Tight and One Industry Leader Threatened Legal Action.”

March 10, 2005

The Karolinska group’s paper showing no increased risk of brain tumors among those who used a cell phone for ten or more years appears in the March 15 issue of the American Journal of Epidemiology. We first reported this result in December based on a brief announcement from Stockholm, but the published paper offers many more details.

One interesting item is the finding of a somewhat elevated risk of developing a glioma (a 60-80% increase) on the same side of the head as the phone was used. But, the Karolinska researchers also saw a lower than expected glioma risk on the opposite side of the head.

Site Data Should Be Kept Secret, Says Industry

February 16, 2005

It was embarrassing watching the cell phone industry shoot itself in the foot yesterday. The scene was a public hearing at the New York City Council in downtown Manhattan on a proposal to maintain and make available a list of all new cell phone antenna sites. Predictably, the mobile phone operators oppose the bill (Intro. No.149-A) and the citizen groups are backing it.

Jane Builder, a manager at T-Mobile, called the proposal “anti-business” and “anti-technology,” but there was another reason she did not even want to discuss in a public forum —the security issue. Though Builder kept mum, she had brought along Kathryn Condello who had no problem raising the specter of a terrorist attack on the city’s critical infrastructure. “Since September 11, 2001, we live in a different world,” said Condello. If the bill becomes law, she warned, it would provide “a blueprint for sabotage” with the potential of devastating the City of New York’s telecommunications. Condello was also issuing this overly dramatic —and spurious— warning on behalf of Cingular, Nextel and Sprint.

February 11, 2005

If you are a geek and want to be a cool geek, Griffin Technology and Apple Computer have the just thing for you. The new Griffin AirBase allows you to put Apple’s Airport Express right on top of your desk instead of hidden away in the wall power socket. Once in full view, it will be, according to Griffin, “an elegant artistic statement.” The Airport Express lets you set up a Wi-Fi hot spot so that you can move your laptop around your home (or wherever) and still be connected to the Internet and your printer. Griffin’s marketing plan isn’t based only on aesthetics: When the Airbase is up on your desk and away from a dusty corner, it will increase the effective range of the Airport Express.

February 10, 2005

Microwave News has long advocated more research on the potential health effects of power-frequency EMFs and RF radiation. It’s been an uphill battle.

EPRI and the CTIA, the two key industry players, are more interested in shutting down research labs than sponsoring those who might be able to make sense of the conflicting results that bedevil this whole business. With respect to mobile phones, Motorola and Nokia have been among the most outspoken in asserting that they have done enough RF studies.

Daily Telegraph vs. Financial Times

January 21, 2005

One of the lessons to be learned from the aftermath of the second Stewart report, released by the UK NRPB last week (see below), is that interpreting the mobile phone health data is much like reading Rorschach inkblots. What you see depends a lot on your mind-set.

Robert Matthews, the Daily Telegraph’s science correspondent, thinks that Sir William made “a bad call.” After noting that there were concerns at the NRPB press conference over last October’s Karolinska study, that showed a doubling of the risk of acoustic neuromas among those who had used a cell phone for more than ten years, Matthews went on to write: “What was not made clear, however, is that the tumor is benign, non-fatal and astonishingly rare: just one person is affected per 100,000 per year.”

1 g vs. 10 g Averaging Volume

January 14, 2005

As the aftershocks from the Stewart report continue to reverberate, the telecom industry is brazenly moving forward with its plan for a major relaxation of the US limit for radiation exposures from cell phones. Yesterday and today, some members of the IEEE International Committee on Electromagnetic Safety (ICES) are meeting to hammer out their revision of the IEEE RF safety standard (known as C95.1).

One of the major planned changes is to replace the current SAR limit of 1.6 W/Kg, averaged over 1g of tissue, with a standard of 2.0 W/Kg, averaged over 10g.

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