Radiation and Health

Mobile phone radiation and health

A man speaking on a mobile telephone

The effect of mobile phone radiation on human health is a subject of interest and study worldwide, as a result of the enormous increase in mobile phone usage throughout the world. As of 2015, there were 7.4 billion subscriptions worldwide, though the actual number of users is lower as many users own more than one mobile phone.[1] Mobile phones use electromagnetic radiation in the microwave range (450–2100 MHz). Other digital wireless systems, such as data communication networks, produce similar radiation.

Mobile phone use does not increase the risk of getting brain cancer or other head tumors.[2][3][4]

Effects studied[edit]

Blood–brain barrier[edit]

Evidence does not support the hypothesis that mobile phone radiation has an effect on the permeability of the blood-brain barrier.[5]

Cancer[edit]

Mobile phone use does not increase the risk of getting brain cancer or other head tumors. As the United States National Cancer Institute said, "Radiofrequency energy, unlike ionizing radiation, does not cause DNA damage that can lead to cancer. Its only consistently observed biological effect in humans is tissue heating. In animal studies, it has not been found to cause cancer or to enhance the cancer-causing effects of known chemical carcinogens."[2][3][4]

Electromagnetic hypersensitivity[edit]

Some users of mobile phones and similar devices have reported feeling various non-specific symptoms during and after use. Studies have failed to link any of these symptoms to electromagnetic exposure. In addition, EHS is not a recognised medical diagnosis.[6]

Depression[7][edit]

Base stations[edit]

A Greenfield-type tower used in base stations for mobile telephony

Experts consulted by France considered it was mandatory that the main antenna axis should not to be directly in front of a living place at a distance shorter than 100 metres.[8] This recommendation was modified in 2003[9] to say that antennas located within a 100-metre radius of primary schools or childcare facilities should be better integrated into the cityscape and was not included in a 2005 expert report.[10] The Agence française de sécurité sanitaire environnementale (fr) as of 2009, says that there is no demonstrated short-term effect of electromagnetic fields on health, but that there are open questions for long-term effects, and that it is easy to reduce exposure via technological improvements.[11]

Safety standards and licensing[edit]

In order to protect the population living around base stations and users of mobile handsets, governments and regulatory bodies adopt safety standards, which translate to limits on exposure levels below a certain value. There are many proposed national and international standards, but that of the International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP) is the most respected one, and has been adopted so far by more than 80 countries. For radio stations, ICNIRP proposes two safety levels: one for occupational exposure, another one for the general population. Currently there are efforts underway to harmonise the different standards in existence.[12]

Radio base licensing procedures have been established in the majority of urban spaces regulated either at municipal/county, provincial/state or national level. Mobile telephone service providers are, in many regions, required to obtain construction licenses, provide certification of antenna emission levels and assure compliance to ICNIRP standards and/or to other environmental legislation.

Many governmental bodies also require that competing telecommunication companies try to achieve sharing of towers so as to decrease environmental and cosmetic impact. This issue is an influential factor of rejection of installation of new antennas and towers in communities.

The safety standards in the US are set by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). The FCC has based its standards primarily on those standards established by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), specifically Subcommittee 4 of the "International Committee on Electromagnetic Safety".

Switzerland has set safety limits lower than the ICNIRP limits for certain "sensitive areas" (classrooms, for example).[13]

Lawsuits[edit]

In the US, a small number of personal injury lawsuits have been filed by individuals against cellphone manufacturers (including Motorola,[14] NEC, Siemens, and Nokia) on the basis of allegations of causation of brain cancer and death. In US federal courts, expert testimony relating to science must be first evaluated by a judge, in a Daubert hearing, to be relevant and valid before it is admissible as evidence. In a 2002 case against Motorola, the plaintiffs alleged that the use of wireless handheld telephones could cause brain cancer and that the use of Motorola phones caused one plaintiff's cancer. The judge ruled that no sufficiently reliable and relevant scientific evidence in support of either general or specific causation was proffered by the plaintiffs, accepted a motion to exclude the testimony of the plaintiffs' experts, and denied a motion to exclude the testimony of the defendants' experts.[15]

Two separate cases in Italy, in 2009[16][17] and 2017,[18][19] resulted in pensions being awarded to plaintiffs who had claimed their benign brain tumors were the result of prolongued mobile phone use in professional tasks, for 5-6 hours a day, which they ruled different from non-professional use. In both cases, the judges rejected several scientific studies because they had received financing from cellphone companies.[citation needed]

Precautions[edit]

Precautionary principle[edit]

In 2000, the World Health Organization (WHO) recommended that the precautionary principle could be voluntarily adopted in this case.[20] It follows the recommendations of the European Community for environmental risks.

According to the WHO, the "precautionary principle" is "a risk management policy applied in circumstances with a high degree of scientific uncertainty, reflecting the need to take action for a potentially serious risk without awaiting the results of scientific research." Other less stringent recommended approaches are prudent avoidance principle and as low as reasonably practicable. Although all of these are problematic in application, due to the widespread use and economic importance of wireless telecommunication systems in modern civilization, there is an increased popularity of such measures in the general public, though also evidence that such approaches may increase concern.[21] They involve recommendations such as the minimization of cellphone usage, the limitation of use by at-risk population (such as children), the adoption of cellphones and microcells with as low as reasonably practicable levels of radiation, the wider use of hands-free and earphone technologies such as Bluetooth headsets, the adoption of maximal standards of exposure, RF field intensity and distance of base stations antennas from human habitations, and so forth.[citation needed] Overall, public information remains a challenge as various health consequences are evoked in the literature and by the media, putting populations under chronic exposure to potentially worrying information.[22]

Precautionary measures and health advisories[edit]

In May 2011, the World Health Organisation's International Agency for Research on Cancer announced it was classifying electromagnetic fields from mobile phones and other sources as "possibly carcinogenic to humans" and advised the public to adopt safety measures to reduce exposure, like use of hands-free devices or texting.

Some national radiation advisory authorities, including those of Austria,[23] France,[24] Germany,[25] and Sweden,[26] have recommended measures to minimize exposure to their citizens. Examples of the recommendations are:

  • Use hands-free to decrease the radiation to the head.
  • Keep the mobile phone away from the body.
  • Do not use telephone in a car without an external antenna.

The use of "hands-free" was not recommended by the British Consumers' Association in a statement in November 2000, as they believed that exposure was increased.[27] However, measurements for the (then) UK Department of Trade and Industry[28] and others for the French l’Agence française de sécurité sanitaire environnementale (fr)[29] showed substantial reductions. In 2005, Professor Lawrie Challis and others said clipping a ferrite bead onto hands-free kits stops the radio waves travelling up the wire and into the head.[30]

Several nations have advised moderate use of mobile phones for children.[31] A journal by Gandhi et al. in 2006 states that children receive higher levels of Specific Absorption Rate (SAR). When 5- and 10-year olds are compared to adults, they receive about 153% higher SAR levels. Also, with the permittivity of the brain decreasing as one gets older and the higher relative volume of the exposed growing brain in children, radiation penetrates far beyond the mid-brain.[32]

Bogus products[edit]

Products have been advertised that claim to shield people from EM radiation from cell phones; in the US the Federal Trade Commission published a warning that "Scam artists follow the headlines to promote products that play off the news – and prey on concerned people.

According to the FTC, there is no scientific proof that so-called shields significantly reduce exposure from electromagnetic emissions. Products that block only the earpiece – or another small portion of the phone – are totally ineffective because the entire phone emits electromagnetic waves. Such shields "may interfere with the phone's signal, cause it to draw even more power to communicate with the base station, and possibly emit more radiation."[33] The FTC has enforced false advertising claims against companies that sell such products.[34]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ http://www.ericsson.com/res/docs/2015/mobility-report/ericsson-mobility-report-nov-2015.pdf
  2. ^ a b What has research shown about the possible cancer-causing effects of radiofrequency energy?, United States National Cancer Institute
  3. ^ a b Repacholi MH, Lerchl A, Röösli M, Sienkiewicz Z, Auvinen A, Breckenkamp J, d'Inzeo G, Elliott P, Frei P, Heinrich S, Lagroye I, Lahkola A, McCormick DL, Thomas S, Vecchia P (2012). "Systematic review of wireless phone use and brain cancer and other head tumors". Bioelectromagnetics (Systematic review). 33 (3): 187–206. PMID 22021071. doi:10.1002/bem.20716. 
  4. ^ a b "Electromagnetic fields and public health: mobile phones". World Health Organization. October 2014. Retrieved 2017-01-12. 
  5. ^ Stam R (2010). "Electromagnetic fields and the blood-brain barrier". Brain Res Rev (Review). 65 (1): 80–97. PMID 20550949. doi:10.1016/j.brainresrev.2010.06.001. 
  6. ^ Röösli, Martin (June 2008). "Radiofrequency electromagnetic field exposure and non-specific symptoms of ill health: A systematic review". Environmental Research. 107 (2): 277–287. PMID 18359015. doi:10.1016/j.envres.2008.02.003. 
  7. ^ "Microwave frequency electromagnetic fields (EMFs) produce widespread neuropsychiatric effects including depression". 
  8. ^ http://www.afsset.fr/index.php?pageid=712&parentid=424 page 37
  9. ^ Téléphonie mobile et santé, Rapport à l'Agence Française de Sécurité Sanitaire Environnementale, 21 March 2003 at http://www.afsset.fr/index.php?pageid=712&parentid=424
  10. ^ Téléphonie mobile et santé, Rapport du groupe d’experts, l'Agence Française de Sécurité Sanitaire Environnementale, April 2005 at http://www.afsset.fr/index.php?pageid=712&parentid=424
  11. ^ "Radiofréquences : actualisation de l'expertise (2009)", l'Agence Française de Sécurité Sanitaire Environnementale, April 2005 at http://www.afsset.fr/index.php?pageid=712&parentid=424
  12. ^ "International Commission for Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection home page". Retrieved 7 January 2008. 
  13. ^ "Anforderungen nach NISV: Mobilfunkanlagen" [Specifications of the Regulation on Non-Ionizing Radiation: Mobile Telephone Installations] (in German). Bundesamt für Umwelt [Swiss Federal Environment Ministry]. 13 March 2009. Retrieved 20 January 2010. 
  14. ^ Wright v. Motorola, Inc. et al., No95-L-04929
  15. ^ Christopher Newman, et al. v Motorola, Inc., et al. (United States District Court for the District of Maryland) (“Because no sufficiently reliable and relevant scientific evidence in support of either general or specific causation has been proffered by the plaintiffs, as explained below, the defendants’ motion will be granted and the plaintiffs’ motion will be denied.”). Text
  16. ^ "Tumore e telefonini, il testo della sentenza n.17438 della Cassazione" [Tumor and cell phones, the text of the judgment n.17438 of the Supreme Court]. www.leggioggi.it (in Italian). 19 October 2012. Retrieved 1 March 2017. 
  17. ^ "Italy court ruling links mobile phone use to tumour". Reuters. 19 October 2012. Retrieved 4 May 2017. 
  18. ^ "Italian court rules mobile phone use caused brain tumour". The Guardian. 21 April 2017. Retrieved 4 May 2017 – via Agence France-Presse. 
  19. ^ "Cancer Linked to Cellphone Use, Italian Court Rules in Landmark Case". Newsweek. 21 March 2017. Retrieved 7 May 2017. 
  20. ^ "Electromagnetic Fields and Public Health: Cautionary Policies". World Health Organization Backgrounder. World Health Organization. March 2000. Retrieved 1 February 2008. 
  21. ^ Wiedemann; et al. (2006). "The Impacts of Precautionary Measures and the Disclosure of Scientific Uncertainty on EMF Risk Perception and Trust". Journal of Risk Research. 9 (4): 361–372. doi:10.1080/13669870600802111. 
  22. ^ Poumadère M.; Perrin A. (2013). "Risk Assessment of Radiofrequencies and Public Information". Journal of Risk Analysis and Crisis Response. 3 (1): 3–12. doi:10.2991/jrarc.2013.3.1.1. 
  23. ^ "Information: Wie gefährlich sind Handystrahlen wirklich?" (in German). Marktgemeinde Pressbaum. Archived from the original on 2011-10-02. Retrieved 16 May 2015. 
  24. ^ "Téléphones mobiles : santé et sécurité" (in French). Le ministère de la santé, de la jeunesse et des sports. 2 January 2008. Retrieved 19 January 2008.  Lay article in (in English) making comment at Gitlin, Jonathan M. (3 January 2008). "France: Beware excessive cell phone use?: despite lack of data". Ars Technica. Retrieved 19 January 2008. 
  25. ^ "Precaution regarding electromagnetic fields". Federal Office for Radiation Protection. 7 December 2007. Retrieved 19 January 2008. 
  26. ^ "Exponering" (in Swedish). Swedish Radiation Protection Authority. February 2006. Retrieved 19 January 2008. 
  27. ^ "UK consumer group: Hands-free phone kits boost radiation exposure". cnn.com. Cable News Network. 2 November 2000. Retrieved 19 January 2008. 
  28. ^ Manning, MI and Gabriel, CHB, SAR tests on mobile phones used with and without personal hands-free kits, SARtest Report 0083 for the DTI, July 2000 (PDF) at http://straff-x.com/SAR-Hands-Free-Kits-July-2000.pdf
  29. ^ Téléphonie mobile & santé, Report for l'Agence française de sécurité sanitaire environnementale (Afsse), June 2005 at http://www.afsse.fr/index.php?pageid=671&parentid=619#
  30. ^ "Bead 'slashes mobile radiation'". BBC News. 25 January 2005. Retrieved 17 March 2009. 
  31. ^ For example, Finland "Radiation and Nuclear Safety Authority: Children's mobile phone use should be limited". Finnish Radiation and Nuclear Safety Authority (STUK). 7 January 2009. Retrieved 20 January 2010.  and France "Téléphone mobile, DAS et santé" [Mobile telephones, SAR and health] (PDF). Votre enfant et le téléphone mobile [Your child and mobile telephony]. Association Française des Opérateurs Mobiles (AFOM)[French Mobile Phone Operators' Association] et l’Union Nationale des Associations Familiales (UNAF) [National Federation of Family Associations]. 31 January 2007. Retrieved 20 January 2010. 
  32. ^ Gandhi, Om P.; Morgan, L. Lloyd; de Salles, Alvaro Augusto; Han, Yueh-Ying; Herberman, Ronald B.; Davis, Devra Lee (14 October 2011). "Exposure Limits: The underestimation of absorbed cell phone radiation, especially in children". Electromagnetic Biology and Medicine. 31 (1): 34–51. ISSN 1536-8378. doi:10.3109/15368378.2011.622827. Retrieved 2015-04-25. 
  33. ^ "Cell Phone Radiation Scams". Federal Trade Commission. September 2011. 
  34. ^ Fair, Lesley (March 1, 2008). "Federal Trade Commission Advertising Enforcement" (PDF). Federal Trade Commission. pp. 18–19. 

External links[edit]