A Report on Non-Ionizing Radiation

Siddhartha Mukherjee: Microwave News Article Archive (2004 - )

April 23, 2014

In 2011, Health Canada found itself in a tough spot. The public was becoming more and more uneasy over exposure to RF radiation from the proliferating number of cell phones, cell towers and Wi-Fi routers. After holding hearings in the spring and fall of 2010, Parliament asked the health agency to investigate whether its exposure limits —the Canadian national RF standard known as Safety Code 6 (SC6)— were too lenient and needed strengthening. Soon afterwards, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) added urgency to the assignment by classifying RF radiation as a possible human cancer agent, or, in the vernacular, a 2B carcinogen.

Health Canada’s dilemma was that it had no interest in tightening SC6. Yet IARC’s 2B designation could not be easily ignored, especially after France and Belgium, among other European countries, had responded by adopting precautionary policies. Last year, for instance, Belgium banned the sale of cell phones to children. How would Health Canada find a way to stick with the status quo?

The answer was to commission a review of SC6 by the Royal Society of Canada (RSC)

July 17, 2011

More mixed messages this weekend. In an interview headlined "Cell Phones and Cancer: Is There a Connection?," Nora Volkow, while acknowledging the uncertainties in Interphone and other epidemiological studies, continues to argue that precaution is the most sensible course of action. "I would feel...

April 15, 2011

Siddhartha Mukherjee was a guest on this morning's Today show. He reiterated his view that "as of now the evidence that moderate cell phone use has any link to cancer is very weak" (see next item). The other guest, NBC's Nancy Snyderman, the network's chief medical editor, was even more insistent. "We have, at least for now until...

April 14, 2011

Next Sunday, the New York Times Magazine will feature a long piece titled "Do Cell Phones Cause Brain Cancer?" by Siddhartha Mukherjee (it's already on the Times' Web site). It's a well-written article, as might be expected by his well-received book, Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer. Yet an important part of the story is missing: the politics of cell...

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