A Report on Non-Ionizing Radiation

cell phones: Microwave News Article Archive (2004 - )

February 16, 2010

The Washington Post's health section offers its take on the cell phone–tumor story today. In "Not Exactly a Ringing Endorsement," reporter John Donnelly presents a variety of opinions from DC area residents: "Everything is a risk. I'm a bodyguard. That's risky. You got to have a life. Cell phones don't scare me," said one. "It makes me nervous," said a pregnant 26-year-old, "I use the speakerphone as much as I can. I keep it away from my body. I try to use it very little."

December 18, 2009

Pity those who are trying to follow the cell phone–brain tumor story. Their sense of the cancer risk is most likely a reflection of the last thing they read or saw on TV —It all depends on whose sound bite they happen to catch.

Take, for example, a paper published earlier this month in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute (JNCI) by a team of Scandinavian epidemiologists, under a rather bland title — "Time Trends in Brain Tumor Incidence Rates in Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden, 1974–2003." But its message is anything but: Because there has been no increase in brain tumors between 1998 and 2003, a period when the use of cell phones "increased sharply," cell phones are cancer safe.

November 23, 2009

A decade after some of the world's leading epidemiologists agreed that exposure to power line EMFs could lead to childhood leukemia, the denial continues. Some people still believe that the studies that link EMFs to cancer are nothing more than junk science. Even those who should know better refuse to acknowledge the risks. The World Health Organization (WHO) says the association is so weak that it can be pretty much ignored, and the leading radiation protection group, ICNIRP, has refused to endorse precaution. Here in the U.S., the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) scarcely acknowledges that EMFs are even a health issue.

November 6, 2009

De-Kun Li's new epidemiological study showing that extended exposure to weak magnetic fields as low as 1.6 mG (0.16 µT) can have negative effects on sperm quality was published today by Reproductive Toxicology.

"This is the first demonstration of a link between EMF exposure and the decline of semen quality," Li told Microwave News. The study, which was carried out in Shanghai, has important implications for overall fertility because approximately 40% of the Shanghai population is exposed to more than 1.6 mG for 2.4 hours on a daily basis.

October 28, 2009

Saturday's lead story in the Telegraph made believe that the U.K. daily had gotten hold of the much-delayed and much sought-after final results of the Interphone study — and that they showed that using a cell phone does indeed increase the risk of developing a brain tumor. Under the headline "Mobiles: New Cancer Alert," the newspaper proclaimed that, "Long-term use of mobile phones may be linked to some cancers, a landmark international study will conclude later this year." In its inside pages were a number of related stories, notably "People Must Be Told About Mobile Phone Dangers, Say Experts" and a sidebar about Larry Mills who had developed a tumor "exactly where he held the phone." The story was pitched as an "EXCLUSIVE" and was soon picked up by many other newspapers and Web sites.

August 18, 2009

Senator Arlen Specter (D-PA) will hold a hearing on cell phones and health on September 14. So says Devra Davis, an activist scientist at the University of Pittsburgh. If Specter follows through, it would be the centerpiece of a conference she is organizing that week in Washington, as well as a triumph for Davis herself. She is on a mission to make cell phones a more visible public health issue in the U.S. and to secure funding for a major research program. It would be the first time in more than 30 years that the U.S. Senate has addressed RF/microwave health risks.

April 10, 2009

Shows on cell phone radiation are all over the TV news —at least in Australia and Europe, if not the U.S.

One theme that runs through many of these programs is impatience over the delays in the publication of the Interphone results. In a Swiss documentary, aired on March 31, Christopher Wild, the new head of IARC, expresses his concern over the reputation of IARC and says that he looks forward to its completion "in the coming months." Elisabeth Cardis, the head of Interphone, concedes to that same Swiss TV reporter that Interphone is indeed taking a long time to finish (see "Interphone Project: The Cracks Begin To Show"). A few days earlier in an unrelated e-mail, Cardis stated that the results would be submitted for publication "in the coming weeks."

February 9, 2009

Call it the end of an era. Motorola, which has by any measure been the dominant force in the RF health arena for more than 15 years, is stepping back from the fray. The field will never be quite the same again.

On Friday, February 13, Motorola will close down its RF research lab in Plantation, FL. C.K. Chou, Mark Douglas, Joe Elder, Joe Morrissey and their support staff have all lost their jobs. A few days later, Ken Joyner, another key player on RF regulatory affairs based in Australia, will leave Motorola after 12 years with the company.

January 23, 2009

The new year brought two fresh initiatives to protect children from cell phone radiation. On January 7, the Finnish Radiation and Nuclear Safety Authority (STUK) recommended that parents limit their children's use of mobile phones and, on the same day, the French government announced a series of environmental health proposals which includes a ban on cell phones designed specifically for children younger than six and of advertising that promotes the use of cell phones among those under 12.

September 28, 2008

Are you confused about cell-phone tumor risks? Need a roadmap to the epidemiological studies? Want a handle on their strengths and weaknesses? Then read Michael Kundi's new review, "The Controversy About a Possible Relationship Between Mobile Phone Use and Cancer," in Environmental Health Perspectives. (EHP is an open access journal and all its papers are available for free.)

Kundi, an epidemiologist and the head of the Institute of Environmental Health at the University Medical of Vienna, is not totally convinced that there is such a link, but he is persuaded that it's looking that way. So far, Kundi finds, the epidemiological evidence points to an association of "moderate strength," similar to the one for passive smoking and lung cancer, and that there are as yet "no valid counterarguments and no strong evidence" to shake his confidence in a causal relationship.

November 20, 2006

According to today's London Times, Sir William Stewart believes that the evidence that microwave radiation can have potentially harmful effects has become more persuasive over the past five years. Stewart, who was the the chief science advisor to the U.K government from 1990 to 1995, is the head of the U.K.'s Health Protection Agency —which absorbed the NRPB last year. He chaired the panel which wrote the influential report Mobile Phones and Health in 2000.

August 5, 2005

A literature review on the topic by Luc Martens of Belgium’s Ghent University was posted on the Bioelectromagnetics Web site a few days ago. Anyone who doubts how little we know about all this should check it out.

Not counting the abstract, references and acknowledgments, the review runs just three pages —that’s it. There’s not much to say because we don’t know much.

Even the relatively long-running controversy over whether children absorb more radiation than adults due to their thinner skulls and whether the radiation penetrates deeper into their heads —sometimes referred to as Salt Lake City vs. Zurich or Gandhi vs. Kuster— remains unresolved (see MWN, N/D01, p.8). Or as Martens puts it, “There is still an inconsistency in the literature.”

March 10, 2004

Prof. Kwan-Hoong Ng of the University of Malay in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, attempts to debunk the idea that there are any health risks associated with mobile phones in a new 30-page pamphlet. Radiation, Mobile Phones, Base Stations and Your Health reassures that there are no established nonthermal effects resulting from exposure to RF radiation and warns that science can never “prove that something is absolutely safe and harmless.”

February 23, 2004

On February 23, the National Toxicology Program released its request for proposals (No. NIH-ES-04-06) for large-scale animal studies to evaluate the possible toxic and carcinogenic effects of cell phone radiation. The FDA originally asked for these studies more than five years ago (see MWN, N/D99, p.5; J/A00, p.5; M/J01, p.1; and M/J03, p.17). The total cost of the project will be on the order of $10 million. Proposals are due by April 8.

January 26, 2004

Danish researchers have found no support for Lennart Hardell and Kjell Hansson Mild’s contention that mobile phones increase the risk of acoustic neuromas. A team led by Christoffer Johansen of the Danish Cancer Society in Copenhagen compared the histories of 106 cases of acoustic neuromas, benign tumors of the cranial nerve, with those of 212 controls. There was no elevated rate of cancer, even among those who had used a cell phone for ten years or more.

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