A Report on Non-Ionizing Radiation

Australia's Armstrong: "I Would Not Want To Be a Heavy User of a Mobile Phone"

April 28, 2008

Another Interphone researcher is expressing concern over the tumor risks associated with the long-term use of mobile phones. "I think the evidence that is accumulating is pointing towards an effect of mobile phones on tumors," Professor Bruce Armstrong of the University of Sydney School of Public Health told "TodayTonight," an Australian current affairs show on Channel 7, a national network.

"I would not want to be a heavy user of a mobile phone," Armstrong said. "People might be shocked to hear that the evidence does seem to be coming more strongly in support of harmful effects."

The ten-year Interphone data has clearly changed Armstrong's outlook. A few years ago, he told the Sydney Morning Herald that "there is no consistent evidence that there is an increased risk of cancer," but even then he allowed that "it could be 15 years before we see an effect."

Armstrong, who is leading the Australian component of the Interphone project, is the second principal investigator of the 13 country teams to urge precaution. Last December, Siegal Sadetzki of the Chaim Sheba Medical Center in Israel told Haaretz, a national newspaper, that, "The time is past when it could be said that this technology does not cause damage; apparently it damages health."

Neither the Australian nor the Israeli results on brain tumor or acoustic neuroma risks have yet been made public. Sadetzki has reported a significant increase of parotid gland tumors after ten years of cell phone use. Her paper appeared in the February 15th issue of the American Journal of Epidemiology.

Meanwhile, the final Interphone paper is still not finished. Just a few days ago, Elisabeth Cardis, who leads the overall Interphone study, told Microwave News that she hopes that the combined results from all 13 countries will be submitted for publication "in the not too distant future." Cardis recently left IARC to join the Center for Research in Environmental Epidemiology (CREAL) in Barcelona.

The nine-minute piece also features an interview with Chris Zombolas, the technical director of EMC Technologies. In measurements commissioned by the TV show, Zombolas found that a number of cell phones do not meet the 2 W/Kg SAR standard when placed in a pocket and used with a hands-free set or a BlueTooth transmitter. The worst of the four phones tested was a Nokia E65. Zombolas measured an SAR of 3.35 W/Kg at 1800 MHz and an SAR of 5.84 W/Kg at 2100 MHz. The Australian SAR standard is 2 W/Kg.

[As of May 4, the TodayTonight segment, "Health Fears over Mobile Phones," can no longer be viewed on the program's Web page, only a brief synopsis is now available. Next-Up, the European activist group, has posted the complete video on its Web site.]