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A Report on Non-Ionizing Radiation


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News Center: Main Articles Archive


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October 1, 2010

We just learned that David Eisen, the former Director of Research and Information at the Newspaper Guild, died on September 16 at the age of 85. (A notice appeared in today's New York Times.) We got to know Dave Eisen back in the early 1980s when we were reporting on the possible health risks associated with video display terminals (VDTs), cathode ray tube (CRT) displays for computers. (From 1984 to 1995, Microwave News also published VDT News.) We'll let the obituary that ran in Maine's Kennebec Journal recount his life story, but we wish to salute him here.

September 28, 2010

Who offers better scientific advice: Lady Gaga or Scientific American ? Okay, it's a trick question. Sometimes Lady Gaga does make more sense.

Two items crossed our desk this morning. A dispatch from Next-Up, the European EM activist group, under the title "Lady Gaga Says No to Radiation from Mobile Phones." That in turn was based on an August 31 story in the U.K. Sun newspaper —admittedly not one of the most reliable sources of news, but then again this is not a complicated story. "Mobiles Send You Gaga," warned the headline (don't miss the Sun's accompanying photo of Lady G. in her retro phone hat). Citing a "source close to the star," the Sun reported: "Even though there's no firm evidence, it's really freaked her out. One of her team has to hold the phone so it isn't too close to her head. She then listens on the phone loudspeaker." That's one way to practice precaution, at least for those lucky enough to have an assistant always at the ready.

June 30, 2010

Users of cell phones have another reason to be cautious. An Austrian team has found that the risk of developing tinnitus, a ringing in the ears, doubled after four years. This is one of the first epidemiological studies to investigate the long-term effects of mobile phones on hearing.

Hans-Peter Hutter of the Institute of Environmental Health at the Medical University of Vienna, and coworkers report that the observed association is "unlikely" to be spurious and could have important implications for public health. Their new epidemiological study, based on 100 cases and 100 controls, will appear in an upcoming issue of Occupational and Environmental Medicine.

June 9, 2010

The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) has recruited Joachim Schüz to lead its Section on Environment. Among his duties in Lyon, Schüz will supervise the still-unfinished work of theInterphone project. He will also play an advisory role in next year's IARC review of the possible cancer risks associated with RF radiation. Schüz, who begins at the agency on August 2, will report to Christopher Wild, the director of IARC.

May 17, 2010

An essential part of the Interphone story is Appendix 2. Although not included in the paper, it offers a way to look at the risks free of some of the bias that so muddled the published results. It also provides a window on the controversy that deadlocked the Interphone group for four years.

There is a general consensus that the large number of abnormally low risks observed in Interphone is a sign of a systematic problem —selection bias— in the way that the study was carried out. As the Interphone group acknowledges, it is "unlikely" that cell phones could immediately provide protection against brain tumors (see main Interphone Story).

May 17, 2010

There's an old saying that a camel is a horse designed by a committee. Welcome to Interphone.

The good news is that the Interphone paper has finally been made public after a four-year stalemate within the 13-country research team. But it comes at a price. A series of compromises over how to interpret the results of the largest and most expensive study of cell phones and brain tumors ever attempted has left the paper with no clear conclusions other than more research is needed.

May 17, 2010

The Paper — E. Cardis et al. (The Interphone Study Group), "Brain Tumour Risk in Relation to Mobile Telephone Use: Results of the Interphone International Case-Control Study," International Journal of Epidemiology, 2010 (open access)
Supplementary DataAppendix 1 and Appendix 2 (open access)
Commentary— R. Sarraci & J. Samet, "Call Me on My Mobile Phone … Or Better Not? — A Look at the Interphone Study Results," International Journal of Epidemiology, 2010 (open access)
Press Releases:
International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) — "Interphone Study Reports on Mobile Phone Use and Brain Cancer Risk"  May 17
International Union Against Cancer (UICC) — "Interphone Study Reports on Mobile Phone Use and Brain Cancer Risk" undated
Audio of Press Conference, held at WHO Headquarters, Geneva,  May 17

May 7, 2010

The first results of the Interphone project will be released on May 18, Microwave News has learned. The paper will be published in the International Journal of Epidemiology. "It is scheduled to be in the June issue," said an assistant in the journal's editorial office in Bristol, England. An electronic copy of the paper will be posted on the "advance access" page of the journal's Web site on the 18th.

May 6, 2010

Today, the President's Cancer Panel issued its report, Reducing Environmental Cancer Risk. The #1 recommendation is to adopt a precautionary outlook: "A precautionary, prevention-oriented approach should replace current reactionary approaches to environmental contaminants in which human harm must be proven before action is taken to reduce or eliminate exposure" (p.103). The panel also states that, "It is vitally important to recognize that children are far more susceptible to damage from environmental carcinogens" (p.111).

May 3, 2010
Last updated July 10, 2015

Fifteen years ago Om Gandhi pointed out that children are exposed to higher levels of radiation from cell phones than adults. He was right then and he is right today. Yet, no one could blame you for thinking otherwise.

In an article published in the May issue of Harper's, Nathaniel Rich uses this putative controversy, among a number of other examples, to make the case that confusion reigns in all aspects of cell-phone research. "The brain of a child absorbs a much greater amount of radiation from a cell phone than does the brain of an adult," he writes, adding immediately after, "No, it does not."


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