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Friday, September 11, 2009

Cell Phones, Radiation, and You

The Environmental Working Group, a Washington, D.C.-based advocacy group, thinks everyone should know more about cell phone radiation. To make this easy, this week the group released a list ranking more than 1,000 cell phones according to the radiation levels they emit. (Ki Mae Heussner, ABC News, September 10, 2009) Do not become immediately alarmed. This cell phone radiation controversy is anything but well studied as good research on the effect of radiation is in its infancy. The EWG, a watchdog group, is providing this current information and urging more study. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has stated that scientific evidence does not indicate negative health outcomes from exposure to radio frequency energy from cell phones. On its web page, the American Cancer Society notes that "cell phones wouldn't be expected to cause cancer because they don't emit ionizing radiation." Says Michael Thun, MD, the emeritus head of epidemiology research: "It's nonionizing. It doesn't break up DNA." In the view of the American Cancer Society, Thun says, those concerned about cell phone use can choose to use a corded or cordless earpiece. He also points to Sweden, "the country that has had the longest cell phone use. And there is no increase in brain cancer in Sweden." Still, Thun reports that continued research on cell phones and health effects is crucial. In addition, EWG is not that certain that all current cell phones are completely safe. "We would like to be able to say that cell phones are safe," Olga Naidenko, EWG senior scientist and lead author of the study, said in a statement. "But we can't. The most recent science, while not conclusive, raises serious issues about the cancer risk of cell phone use that must be addressed through further research. In the meantime, consumers can take steps to reduce exposure." "Studies that look at cell phones for people that have used cell phones for at least 10 years have found increased risk for brain tumors and salivary gland tumors," said Jane Houlihan, senior vice president for research at the Environmental Working Group. (Katleen Doheny, WebMD Health News, September 9 2009) In the review of scientific evidence, EWG scientists found recent studies linking cell phone radiation to:
  • Brain tumors, specifically gliomas and acoustic neuromas.
  • Tumors of the salivary gland. In one study, an increased risk of 50% to 60% was found among those who used cell phones the most.
  • Behavioral problems. In one study of more than 13,000 Danish children, an 80% increased risk for emotional problems and hyperactivity was found for young children who used cell phones and for those born to women who used them while pregnant.
  • Migraines and vertigo. In a study of more than 420,000 Danish adults, long-term mobile phone users were 10% to 20% more likely to be admitted to the hospital for vertigo or migraine, compared to those who used cell phone for less time.
According to yubanet.com/life (September 9 2009), health agencies in six nations -- Switzerland, Germany, Israel, France, the United Kingdom, and Finland -- have issued warnings to limit cell phone use, particularly by children, whose softer, thinner skulls are less able to shield the brain from radiation. Scientists have found that children's brains absorb twice as much cell phone radiation as those of adults.

The Federal Communications Commission set the limit at 1.6 W/kg but the EWG report found some cell phones emitted a fraction of that and others almost maxed out. The lowest was just .15 W/kg and 1.55 W/kg at the highest. (Sherri Ly, myfoxdc, September 9 2009)

The Environmental Working Group has information of the entire list of cell phones at http://www.ewg.org/cellphoneradiation/newsrelease ((AScribe - The Public Interest Newswire / http://www.ascribe.org)) Here are the tested phones in the list that emit most radiation.

Highest radiation:

1. Motorola MOTO VU204 [Verizon Wireless] 2. T-Mobile myTouch 3G [T-Mobile] 3. Kyocera Jax S1300 [Virgin Mobile] 4. Blackberry Curve 8330 [Sprint, U.S. Cellular, Verizon Wireless, MetroPCS] 5. Motorola W385 [U.S. Cellular, Verizon Wireless] 6. T-Mobile Shadow [T-Mobile] 7. Motorola C290 [Sprint, Kajeet] 8. Motorola i335 [Sprint] 9. Motorola MOTO VE240 [Cricket, MetroPCS] 10. Blackberry Bold 9000 [AT&T]

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