A Report on Non-Ionizing Radiation

Who’s for Precaution, Who’s Not

July 23, 2008

One of the hallmarks of the cell phone health controversy has been the silence of the U.S. public health communities. No medical, consumer, environmental or labor group has called for precaution, or even for more research.

The American Cancer Society, for instance, has adopted a what-me-worry approach. Indeed, CTIA, the industry lobby group, routinely refers press inquiries about possible health impacts to the ACS. As for the Consumers Union, it has decided not to get involved, preferring instead to advise its members on how to pick the best phones and find the best service contracts.

Ronald Herberman, the director of the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute, has taken a new course. In a memo to the institute's faculty and staff released today —and featured on the front page of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette— Herberman offers "practical advice" to limit exposures from cell phone radiation (see also the accompanying "The Case for Precaution in the Use of Cell Phones"). These recommendations include: "Do not allow children to use a cell phone, except for emergencies." The Pitsburgh initiative follows from the Appeal for Caution launched in France last month by David Servan-Schreiber (see our June 19 post). Among the Americans who have signed the appeal are David Carpenter, Devra Davis and Dan Wartenberg.