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Environmental Working Group Report - Cell Phone Radiation: Science Review on Cancer Risks and Children's Health - Executive Summary and Download

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Source: Environmental Working Group.

Download the full report (PDF, 1.3 MB)

From the Executive Summary Cell Phone Radiation Science Review

Executive Summary

More than 4 billion people around the world use cell phones (ITU 2009). Because cell phone technology has been around for just two decades, scientists do not yet fully understand long-term health risks from cell phone radiation. But recent research has prompted serious concerns about exposure to wireless emissions.

Prior to 2003, studies of cancer risk and cell phone use produced conflicting results. FDA told consumers that scientists had found no harmful health effects from exposure to cell phone emissions. (FDA 2003).

But FDA's assurances were based on studies of people who had used cell phones for just 3 years, on an average (FDA 2003), not long enough to develop cancer. At that time, studies had not addressed the risks of longer-term exposures.

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The research gap is closing. Scientists around the world have recently associated serious health problems with using cell phones for 10 years or longer:

  • A joint study by researchers in Denmark, Finland, Norway, Sweden and the United Kingdom found that people who had used cell phones for more than 10 years had a significantly increased risk of developing glioma, a usually malignant brain tumor, on the side of the head they had favored for cell phone conversations (International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) 2008; Lahkola 2007).
  • French and German scientists reported an increased risk of glioma for long-term cell phone users (Hours 2007; Schuz, Bohler, Berg 2006). Analysis of all published cell phone-brain tumor studies found that people who had used a cell phone for 10 or more years, the overall risk for developing a glioma on the cell phone side of the head increased by 90 percent (Hardell 2009; Kundi 2009).
  • Cell phone use for 10 years and longer has been also associated with significantly increased risk of acoustic neuroma, a type of benign brain tumor, on the primary side of cell phone use (IARC 2008; Schoemaker 2005). An extensive review of published studies of acoustic neuroma found that long-term cell phone users had a 60 percent greater risk of being diagnosed with the disease (Hardell 2009; Kundi 2009).
  • A study from Israel reported an association between frequent and prolonged mobile phone use and parotid (salivary) gland tumors (Sadetzki 2008). Scientists analyzing data from Sweden and Denmark combined found that people who had used cell phones for at least 10 years ran an increased risk of benign parotid gland tumors (IARC 2008; Lonn 2006).
  • Multiple studies reported that the brains of young children absorb more radiation than those of adults (de Salles 2006; Gandhi 1996; Kang 2002; Martinez-Burdalo 2004; Wang 2003; Wiart 2008), potentially rendering them more vulnerable to brain tumors (NRC 2008b). Researchers in Sweden found the highest risk of brain tumors among people who started using cell phones during adolescence (Hardell 2009). Scientists have known for decades that high doses of the radiofrequency radiation emitted by cell phones can penetrate the body, heat tissues, trigger behavioral problems and damage sensitive tissues like the eyeball and testicle (Heynick 2003; IEEE 2006).

Recent studies link cell phone radiation to:

  • Brain cancer: Two analyses of 25 original publications identified a 50 to 90 percent increase in risk for two types of brain tumors: glioma and acoustic neuroma (Hardell 2009, Kundi 2009).
  • Salivary gland tumors: An Israeli study found an increased risk of 50 to 60 percent for salivary gland tumors among people with highest cell phone use (Sadetzki 2008).
  • Behavioral problems: A study of 13,159 Danish children showed 80 percent elevated risk for emotional and hyperactivity problems among young children who use cell phones and whose mothers also used cell phones during pregnancy (Divan 2008).
  • Migraines and vertigo: A study of 420,095 Danish adults showed that long-term cell phone users were 10 to 20 percent more likely to be hospitalized for migraines and vertigo than people who took up cell phones more recently. (Schuz 2009).

Yet when cell phones went on the market in the 1980s, federal regulators did not require manufacturers to prove they were safe (GAO 1994).

Recent studies raise particular concerns about the impact of cell phone emissions on children. The National Research Council (NRC) has observed that "with the rapid advances in technologies and communications utilizing [radiation in the range of cell phone frequencies], children are increasingly exposed... at earlier ages (starting at age 6 or before)" (NRC 2008b). The NRC called for "investigation of the potential effects of RF fields in the development of childhood brain tumor" (NRC 2008b).

  • Research by France Telecom scientists showed that under standard conditions of use, twice as much cell phone radiation would penetrate a childĘs thinner, softer skull than an adultĘs (Wiart 2008). These results confirm earlier findings that childrenĘs heads absorb more radiofrequency radiation than adults (Gandhi 1996; Kang 2002; Wang 2003).
  • Children will be exposed to cell phone radiation for more years and therefore in greater total amounts than the current generation of adults (NRC 2008b).

Download the full report (PDF, 1.3 MB)

Related Articles, Reports & Resources

Video of 2009 Senate Hearing on Health Effects of Cell Phone Use

Expert Conference on Cell Phones and Health Video September 14, 2009

Environmental Working Group Report - Cell Phone Radiation: Science Review on Cancer Risks and Children's Health

Video of September 2008 Congressional Hearing on Health Effects of Cell Phone Use

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Environmental Working Group Report - Cell Phone Radiation: Science Review on Cancer Risks and Children's Health - Executive Summary and Download

Public Health Experts Call for Precautionary Policies to Limit Leukemia Risks to Children from EMFs

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<-- Wireless, Cell Phone, and EMF Safety

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