Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Wireless Radiation Safety, 2014: Year in Review

Two major research studies published this year found that brain cancer risk increased with wireless phone use. Several significant policy-related actions regarding wireless radiation also occurred in 2014.

French researchers found almost a 3-fold increase in brain cancer with 896 or more hours of lifetime cell phone use. Swedish researchers found a 2-fold increase in brain cancer with 1,486 or more hours of cell phone use and a 3-fold risk with 25 or more years of cell and cordless phone use.  

These studies add to the evidence of increased brain cancer risk found among heavier cell phone users in the 13-nation Interphone study published in 2010. The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) of the World Health Organization (WHO) relied heavily on the Interphone Study and earlier research by the Swedish researchers to declare radio frequency radiation “possibly carcinogenic to humans” in 2011. 

A news report on the Swedish study by Reuters Health stimulated global media coverage—over 260 news articles published in 18 languages in 50 countries— demonstrating worldwide concern about the carcinogenicity of cell phone radiation.

Key developments in the past year
  • The U.S. Department of the Interior accused the Federal Government of employing outdated standards: "the electromagnetic radiation standards used by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) continue to be based on thermal heating, a criterion now nearly 30 years out of date and inapplicable today." The standards violate federal law as they endanger federally-protected wildlife species which suffer adverse effects from cell tower radiation exposure.
  • Four resolutions signed by 98 scientific experts were submitted to the FCC which call on government to issue stronger regulations on wireless radiation, especially cell phone radiation.
  • The Wall Street Journal reported that one in ten cell phone towers in the U.S., numbering about 30,000 in all, emit levels of microwave radiation that exceed the legal limit thus endangering the health of workers, noting that the FCC has issued only two citations for noncompliance since 1996.
  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) became the first Federal health agency to issue precautionary health warnings about cell phone use; however, CDC later removed the warnings from its web site after the media reported about this key policy change.
  • Fifty-four scientists from 18 nations who study the effects of radio frequency radiation submitted a declaration to Health Canada calling on government to minimize public exposure to the microwave radiation emitted by wireless devices including cell phones, cordless phones, Wi-Fi, broadcast antennas, smart meters, and baby monitors.
  • SINTEF, the largest independent research organization in Scandinavia, proposed manufacturing design guidelines to reduce the magnetic fields emitted by hybrid and electric automobiles which are possibly carcinogenic to humans.
  • The City Council of Berkeley, California directed the City Attorney to draft a cell phone “right to know” ordinance that would require retailers to provide consumers with a fact sheet regarding the cell phone’s minimum separation distance from the body. Harvard law professor Lawrence Lessig has offered to defend this ground-breaking ordinance should the CTIA—The Wireless Association sue the City.
  • In a lawsuit filed by 29 individuals who are suing the wireless industry for their brain tumors, the D.C. Superior Court admitted the testimony of expert witnesses for the plaintiffs. This ruling enables the case to move to the discovery phase of the trial, and the industry will be required to release relevant documents.
  • The Los Angeles Unified School District officially accommodated a teacher who suffers from Electromagnetic Hypersensitivity (EHS) by approving her request to have the Wi-Fi turned off in her classroom and her request to be reassigned in the future to another school where Wi-Fi has not been installed. This is the first accommodation for EHS by a public school system in the U.S.
  • systematic review of the research on the effects of cell phone radiation on human sperm found that mobile phone exposure negatively affects sperm quality and may contribute to infertility in some men.
Although two wireless products launched in 2014 received extraordinary media coverage, the news media failed to mention the potential health risks from using these products:
  • The Specific Absorption Rate (SAR), a measure of the maximum amount of microwave radiation absorbed, is much higher for the Google Glass than for most cell phones. This is of particular concern for the Glass as unlike cell phones it is worn on the user’s head.
  • The iPhone 6, like most smart phones, has several transmitters that simultaneously emit microwave radiation. When these transmitters are turned on the radiation emitted by this phone is close to the SAR legal limit; thus, one should turn off any transmitters not in use (e.g. Wi-Fi) to reduce exposure. According to Apple, the iPhone 6 should be kept at least 5 millimeters or two-tenths of an inch from the body whenever it is turned on (i.e., the device's minimum body separation distance is 5 mm).

Listed below in order of popularity are the ten most popular wireless radiation news releases distributed this year through PRLog, a press release distribution website, and the ten most popular articles posted on the Electromagnetic Radiation Safety website. In 2014, the news releases received over 65,000 page views, and the website received 130,000 page views from visitors in more than 100 countries.

Ten Most Popular Electromagnetic Radiation Safety Press Releases of the Year 

The Top Cell Phone Radiation Safety Stories of 2013

Ten Most Popular Articles of the Year on the SaferEMR Website