Cellphone radiation was classified a “possible carcinogen” in 2011 by the International Agency for Research on Cancer, part of the World Health Organization, a conclusion based on human epidemiological studies that found an increased risk of glioma, a malignant brain cancer, associated with cellphone use.
“We have grave concerns over the outdated approach the federal government has relied on to study the health effects of cellphone radiation and set its current safety limit and advice for consumers,” said EWG President Ken Cook. “Government guidelines are a quarter-century old and were established at a time when wireless devices were not a constant feature of the lives of nearly every American, including children.”
The Environmental Working Group is a nonprofit, non-partisan organization that empowers people to live healthier lives in a healthier environment. Through research, advocacy and unique education tools, EWG drives consumer choice and civic action.
Study: Wireless radiation exposure should be lower than current federal limits
SaferEMR: Why did you choose to model data from the NTP study rather than the Ramazzini study, when the latter study found increased cancer incidence in male rats with much lower RF exposure?
EWG: We were especially interested in the NTP study because of the availability of the NTP data on the health outcomes following interim exposures (for rats, 19 weeks counting from the prenatal exposure). Similar data for health effects in young animals have not yet been published for the Ramazzini Institute study. EWG considers the cardiomyopathy observed in these young animals in the NTP study to be very significant, since these effects occur well before the elevated cancer risk at a time period close to the end of the laboratory rodents’ life span.
SaferEMR: Have you thought about why GSM seems more biologically active than CDMA (e.g., GSM's ELF components: 8 Hz and 217 Hz)? Do we have any basis to generalize from your results to other carrier frequencies or modulations? If so, does your study have implications for RF exposure limits pertaining to Wi-Fi (2.4, 5 GHz), 3G (UMTS, W-CDMA), 4G (LTE), or 5G?
EWG: We don’t feel that sufficient mechanistic data are currently available to determine why the adverse health effects of the GSM modulations were more pronounced compared to CDMA. In our view, more research still needs to be done on the health impacts of the latest generation of communication technologies, such as 5G. In the meantime, EWG’s recommendation for strict, lower exposure limits, well below the FCC’s legal limits, applies to exposures from all sources of radiofrequency exposure, including communications technologies that are on the market today.
SaferEMR: Are you planning to address the localized peak SAR exposure limit in your next paper or is the NTP study inadequate to address this issue?
EWG: Yes, localized peak SAR exposure limit is definitely the essential next science question to be addressed. The NTP study design did not specifically address the question of localized peak SAR exposure. EWG will continue doing research in this area, and we also hope to see new research effort by the federal government and academia to generate additional data specifically on peak SAR versus whole body SAR. Until such data are publicly available, EWG recommendation is to follow the ALARA – As Low As Reasonably Achievable – principle, by keeping wireless devices away from the body, so as to minimize peak SAR.
Uloma Igara Uche, Olga V Naidenko. Development of health-based exposure limits for radiofrequency radiation from wireless devices using a benchmark dose approach. Environ Health 20, 84 (2021). doi: 10.1186/s12940-021-00768-1.
Epidemiological studies and research on laboratory animals link radiofrequency radiation (RFR) with impacts on the heart, brain, and other organs. Data from the large-scale animal studies conducted by the U.S. National Toxicology Program (NTP) and the Ramazzini Institute support the need for updated health-based guidelines for general population RFR exposure.
The development of RFR exposure limits expressed in whole-body Specific Absorption Rate (SAR), a metric of RFR energy absorbed by biological tissues.
Methods Using frequentist and Bayesian averaging modeling of non-neoplastic lesion incidence data from the NTP study, we calculated the benchmark doses (BMD) that elicited a 10% response above background (BMD10) and the lower confidence limits on the BMD at 10% extra risk (BMDL10). Incidence data for individual neoplasms and combined tumor incidence were modeled for 5% and 10% response above background.
National Toxicology Program (NTP) Finds Cell Phone Radiation Causes Cancer
National Toxicology Program: Peer & public review of cell phone radiation study reports