Smart discussion about toxics policy reform

Cell phone radiation rules so last century

Cell phones used to be luxuries, like 8-track car stereos.  Now they’re everyday essentials, like toothbrushes.

Especially for kids. An estimated 71 percent of American tweens and teens own cell phones, and more than half use the device daily, according to the Pew Internet and American Life Project.

Is that much electronics-aided talking safe?

We at Environmental Working Group aren’t so sure. And we’re troubled, not only by what the science is showing but by the federal government’s failure to consider regulatory action to raise the margin of safety for constant cell phoners.

As Olga Naidenko, Ph.D., EWG Senior Scientist and report author, put it:

“We would like to be able to say that cell phones are safe, 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.”

Current U.S. cell phone radiation standards, set by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and based largely on 1992 cell phone industry recommendations, are outdated and allow 20 times more radiation to penetrate the head than the rest of the body.

Are US cell phone radiation standards too lax?

Scientists don’t know. But if they are, kids bear the greatest risks. Their softer, thinner skulls are less able to shield the brain from radiation. Scientists have found that their brains absorb twice as much cell phone radiation as those of adults

Because the feds aren’t getting it done, EWG has provided consumers with the information they need about cell phone radiation to make informed decisions about purchasing cell phones with lower emissions.

On September 14th, Naidenko testified before the Senate Appropriations Health subcommittee about the EWG report. Here she talks with EWG’s Chief of Staff, Heather White, just before her testimony (you can watch the full hearing here):

Other countries are more advanced

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.

We can change this

Join us to ask the FCC to upgrade its standards to take account of the newest scientific evidence and also increasing cell phone use by children. Help us send the FCC a strong message that it’s time to update its standards. They should:

  • Modernize their cell phone radiation standards.
  • Give people the information they need to make informed decisions about their cell phones.
  • Insist that the cell phone industry offer consumers phones that operate with the least possible radiation.

Want to know more? You can read our full report, search for a low-radiation phone (and see how yours ranks), and get our top 8 radiation reduction tips.

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2 Responses to “Cell phone radiation rules so last century”

  1. Kathleen O'Neill says:

    Has anyone checked on anything besides brain tumors? I picture all those teen-aged girls carrying cell phones in their front jeans pockets, mere inches from their ovaries. Good God, what if cell phone radiation affects those ova? A whole generation could have increased fertility problems and/or birth defects. Convenience, coolness, and connectivity just aren’t worth that risk.

    • Elaine Shannon says:

      Dear Kathleen — Excellent question. Senior scientist Olga Naidenko, who has read the literature, responds that unfortunately, scientists know much more about reproductive risks to men than to women. She has found six different studies that reported cell phone use to have adverse effects on sperm. You can read about these studies by following this link. The study says:

      Six studies from the U.S., Australia, Japan and Europe reported that exposure to cell phone radiation has an adverse effect on sperm counts, motility and vitality (Agarwal 2009; De Iuliis 2009; Erogul 2006; Fejes 2005; Salama 2009; Yan 2007).

      Dr. Naidenko adds that occupational health studies for female physiotherapists, conducted in Sweden, Israel and Finland, found that workplace exposure to radiofrequency radiation during pregnancy is associated with low birth weight, congenital malformations, fetal death, and spontaneous abortions (Kallen 1982; Lerman 2001; Taskinen 1990).

      In sum, EWG agrees that keeping cell phone close to the body, especially near eproductive organs, may well pose reproductive risks to both young girls and boys