A Report on Non-Ionizing Radiation

FDA: Microwave News Article Archive (2004 - )

August 16, 2014

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention —CDC— is the first U.S. health agency to call for precaution in the use of cell phones.

But not for long. As soon as word of the CDC’s new outlook spread, the precautionary advice was withdrawn. Our original story is below, followed by an August 20 addendum.

“Along with many organizations worldwide, we recommend caution in cell phone use,” the CDC stated on its Web site’s FAQ About Cell Phones and Your Health and followed up with a call for more research to answer the unresolved cancer question.

June 22, 2012

The ranks of long-time EMF/RF researchers are thinning out too quickly and much too soon. Last week, Doreen Hill of OSHA and Larry Cress of the FDA died at ages 60 and 61, respectively. Hill joined the EPA back in 1973 and the agency's Office of Radiation Programs a decade later. More recently, she worked at OSHA. Hill, a brain...

September 21, 2011

The FDA will hold a workshop on MRI safety in Silver Spring, MD, October 25-26. One of the main topics to be addressed is the potential problem posed by metal implants. In its announcement, issued today, the FDA makes no mention of exposures to RF radiation as a safety concern. A...

April 18, 2011

A system to treat brain cancer with 100-200 kHz electric fields has been approved by the FDA. The device is made by Novocure. Here is the company's press release announcing the news. And here is a link to a story about the the device, we ran in Microwave News close to four years ago.

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.

July 7, 2009

Last month, Margaret Hamburg, the new commissioner of the FDA, and Joshua Sharfstein, her principal deputy commissioner, published a commentary in the New England Journal of Medicine under the title, "The FDA as a Public Health Agency." Here is a short excerpt:

"[O]ne of the greatest challenges facing any public health agency is that of risk communication. … The FDA's job is to minimize risks through education, regulation, and enforcement. To be credible in all these tasks, the agency must communicate frequently and clearly about risks and benefits —and about what organizations and individuals can do to minimize risk. When, like the FDA, Americans must make choices about medication, devices, foods, or nutrition in the absence of perfect information, the FDA cannot delay in providing reasonable guidance —guidance that informs rather than causes unnecessary anxiety. For these communications to have credibility, the public must trust the agency to base its decisions on science."

The full article is open access —that is, it's available at no charge.

January 15, 2008

On Thursday, January 17, the U.S. National Academy of Sciences-National Research Council (NAS-NRC) will release its report on what types of research, if any, are needed to address potential health effects of radiation used for wireless communications.

The report, which was requested by the FDA's Center for Devices and Radiological Health (CDRH), marks the closing chapter of the cooperative research agreement (or CRADA) between the CTIA, the trade association of the cell phone and wireless industries, and the CDRH.

May 7, 2007

The National Academy of Sciences (NAS) has tentatively scheduled its RF workshop for August 7-9 in Washington. Its objective is to review the status of health research associated with exposure to RF radiation from wireless devices. See the NAS announcement for further information. The FDA requested the NAS review last March (see our March 30 post).

March 30, 2007

After sidestepping the cell phone health controversy for many years, the FDA announced yesterday that it had asked the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) to hold a symposium and to advise what additional research needs to be done. It's déjà vu all over again. This is the same do-nothing strategy that George Carlo so successfully pursued for the CTIA, the wireless trade association, in the 1990s to make sure that very little health research got done. Over a six-year period, Carlo held meetings and wrote literature reviews. In the end, he spent $25 million of CTIA's money and had practically nothing to show for it. Neither Carlo nor the CTIA has ever accounted for where all that money went. Now, the CTIA and the FDA are planning to replay the same charade, albeit on a much smaller scale.

January 26, 2007

The latest Interphone findings pointing to a link between brain tumors and long-term use of a mobile phone (see January 22) should not be dismissed, according to members of the European research team that published the new results. "This is something you have to take seriously," Maria Feychting of the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm told the Expressen, a Swedish national tabloid. Feychting advises those who are concerned to use a hands-free set to reduce radiation exposures.

June 11, 2006

The U.S. FDA has long sidestepped the cell phone-health controversy even though Congress gave the agency that responsibility.

This week's issue of BusinessWeek, asks whether Disney is making a smart move targeting young kids for its new Disney Mobile service. In its defense, the company says that it's "relying on the FDA" and that the FDA has repeatedly stated that there is no danger.

January 11, 2005

In its report, released today, the board of the NRPB reaffirmed its call for a “precautionary approach” to the use of mobile phones. One of the key recommendations is that “particular attention be given to how best to minimize exposure of potentially vulnerable subgroups such as children.” In the NRPB press release, Sir William Stewart, the chair of the board, states that, “The fact is that the widespread use of mobile phones is a relatively recent phenomenon and it is possible that adverse health effects could emerge after years of prolonged use.”

June 10, 2004

The U.S. National Toxicology Program (NTP) was ready to spend some $10 million on RF research, but no one wanted it. In February, the NTP issued a request for proposals to carry out a number of animal studies on the possible cancer risks associated with wireless communications. Not a single lab responded by the April 8 deadline. 

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.

July 1, 1995

The irony is astonishing. On the very day that a committee of the National Council on Radiation Protection and Measurements (NCRP) completed its 800-page draft report asking regulatory agencies to pay “serious attention” to EMFs, public television station WGBH aired a one-hour show across the country comparing EMFs to cold fusion. While the NCRP committee called for “a national commitment to further research,” the June 13 Frontline, “Currents of Fear,” asked whether it was time to close down the research effort.

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