A Report on Non-Ionizing Radiation

INTEROCC: What About Cell Phones?

Maybe It Was Never RF, But ELF

June 30, 2014

The new INTEROCC paper raises an intriguing question: Might the ELF component of GSM phone radiation present a brain tumor risk?

To date, all the attention on the cancer risk from mobile phones has been on RF radiation. Now that INTEROCC points to a credible association between exposure to ELF EMFs and brain tumors (see main story), is it possible, we have been focusing on the wrong type of phone radiation all along?

GSM phones expose the user to ELF EMFs because the RF transmitter in the phone turns on-and-off 217 times a second.1 The radiation from old analog and the newer 3G or 4G phones have much less ELF, if any at all.

Since the INTEROCC data was collected in the INTERPHONE study (see “Freaky or What?”), phone use data would have been available. Yet, phones are not discussed in the INTEROCC paper. “At the very least, they should have mentioned the ELF from phones,” Alasdair Philips of Powerwatch told us from his home in Scotland. Philips points out that, at the time the INTERPHONE data was collected, most people were using GSM phones.

Joe Bowman of NIOSH told us that phone use was not included in the INTEROCC exposure assessment. We then turned to Elisabeth Cardis who was in charge of the project. Here’s what she said: “There appears to be little association between mobile phone use and occupation history in the study thus the potential for confounding is small.” She added that, “The study included patients from a substantially increased age range for whom the detailed phone indices have not been derived.”

1. See, for instance, Figure 4 in this 1997 Danish paper.