Newsweek asks "Will This Phone Kill You?"

5 08 2010

From the latest online edition of NEWSWEEK:

To get a sense of the total, complete, and utter mess that is research on the health effects of cell phones, look no further than a study of whether the ubiquitous gadgets raise the risk of brain tumors. “Interphone,” organized by the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer, was the largest (10,751 subjects, ages 30 to 59, in 13 countries), longest (10 years), most expensive (as much as $30 million), and most labor-intensive (48 scientists) study of its kind. That boded well for producing credible conclusions. Instead, Interphone found that using a cell phone decreased the risk of glioma (primary brain cancer) by 19 percent. Even in people who had used cell phones for more than 10 years there was no increased risk of brain tumors, with the exception of those who said they had yakked away for more than 1,640 hours. And the 40 percent increased risk of glioma in this group came with a caveat that is emblematic of this field: this elevated risk, the scientists warned, may be an artifact of “biases and error,” not real. Things got so acrimonious among Interphone scientists that they delayed announcing the results, finally released in May, for four years.

There are many, many ways to screw up experiments on the biological effects of cell-phone radiation, and in 20 years of studies scientists seem to have used every one. The result is a confused public and nearly incoherent government policies that careen back and forth like a drunk after last call. In April, Maine legislators voted against requiring warning labels on cell phones. In May, San Francisco mandated them. A bill to be introduced in Congress would require warning labels nationwide and create a research program—but the last time the government called for studies that would “finally” answer whether cell phones pose a risk of cancer was in 1999, and since then all that’s been accomplished are studies on how to do the studies. Society has never been good at making decisions in the face of scientific uncertainty (what do we do about possibly carcinogenic pesticides? About climate change?), but with cell phones the situation is even worse: it may be impossible to get definitive answers in a reasonable time about whether the radio-frequency radiation the devices emit will kill any of the 4.6 billion people who now use them.

The first big uh-oh experiment, done in Australia and published in 1997, exposed mice to the radiation typical of cell phones (about 800 megahertz to more than 2 gigahertz; this study used 900 MHz) for one hour a day for 18 months. The mice got lymphoma at 2.4 times the rate that unexposed mice did. The alarming finding set off a stampede of research. Two studies in Texas, in 1998, exposed mice to 2,450-MHz radiation for 20 hours a day, every day, for 78 weeks, finding no extra breast cancers compared with mice that weren’t zapped. A 2002 study in Germany, exposing mice to 900 MHz, found no increase in breast cancer. A 2002 Australian study—900 MHz, an hour a day, five days a week, for two years—looked for an increase in lymphomas: nothing. The biggest set of animal tests—called Perform-A, it took eight years, cost $10 million, was organized by the European Commission, and announced results in 2007—found no evidence that cell radiation induces or promotes cancer in exposed mice or rats.

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Vatican radio waves blamed for high cancer risk

15 07 2010

Vatican radio waves blamed for high cancer risk

A court-ordered study has found that electromagnetic waves beamed by Vatican Radio leave residents living near the station’s antennas at a higher risk of cancer.

“There has been an important, coherent and meaningful correlation between exposure to Vatican Radio’s structures and the risk of leukaemia and lymphoma in children,” the report said, according to the daily La Stampa.

The report also warned of “important risks” of dying of cancer for people who had lived for at least 10 years within a 5.5-mile radius of the radio’s giant antenna towers near Cesano, 12 miles north of Rome.

The radio’s director, Federico Lombardi, disputed the report, saying: “Vatican Radio is astonished to hear the news on the results of the study.”

Mr Lombardi, who is also the Vatican spokesman, added: “Vatican Radio has always observed international directives on electromagnetic emissions and since 2001 has observed more restrictive norms set by Italy to allay the concerns of the neighbouring populations.”

Speaking on Vatican Radio, he said: “According to international scientific literature on the matter, the existence of a causal link like the one apparently hypothesised by the report had never been established.”

A Rome judge ordered the report in 2005 as part of an investigation into a complaint filed in 2001 by Cesano residents who alleged health hazards posed by the electromagnetic waves.

Vatican Radio’s then-president Roberto Tucci and director Pasquale Borgomeo were among defendants in a case that was thrown out last year after the statute of limitations expired.

At the time, Mr Lombardi said he was not satisfied with the result since he had expected an acquittal.

The Vatican spokesman said the Holy See would soon publish its own experts’ conclusion in the case.

A 2001 investigation by Italy’s environment ministry showed that magnetic fields in the area were six times more powerful than allowed, while Rome’s Lazio region estimated that the rate of deaths from leukaemia among children in the Cesano area was three times higher than in adjoining areas.

SOURCE: Telegraph.co.uk

FLASHBACK: 

Sins Of Transmission? Vatican Radio’s high-power antennas stand accused of causing cancer

By Alexander Hellemans  /  October 2005

 spectrum.ieee.org/energy/the-smarter-grid/sins-of-transmission





Congress may consider bill requiring cancer warning on cellphones

10 07 2010

Kucinich to introduce bill for cell phone radiation research, warning label

Rep. Dennis J. Kucinich (D-OH) said Wednesday that he will introduce a bill for a federal research program on the affects of cellphone radiation on users. The bill will also call for a warning label for mobile phones, as a growing body of research around the world indicate potential links between long-term use and cancer.

The bill comes after The Post’s report Tuesday outlining the growing controversy over cellphones and health. The story looks into the lobbying effort against bills across the country that would require warning and radiation data labels for cellphone retailers and San Francisco’s move as the first place in the nation to require retailers to disclose radiation levels of the phones they sell.

“Some studies find links. Some don’t. But studies funded by the telecommunications industry are significantly less likely to find a link between cellphones and health effects. We need a first-class research program to give us answers,” Kucinich said in a statement. “Until we know for sure, a labeling law will ensure that cellphone users can decide for themselves the level of risk that they will accept”

Kucinich, who held a hearing on the topic in 2008, said much of the current research on cellphone radiation is being done outside the United States. Federal regulations on how much radiation devices can emit – such as the Specific Absorption Rate set by the Federal Communications Commission – are outdated.

His bill will call for a fresh look at regulatory standards on how much radiation a cellphone can emit. The FCC’s guidelines for SAR, an absorption limit set at 1.6 watts per kilogram of tissue, were determined in 1997 and were designed around testing for a male adult model. Those standards, according to some epidemiologists, do not take into account other affects of radiation on tissue and do not take into account the fastest-growing segment of cellphone users: children.

Kucinich cited the 13-nation Interphone study (the U.S. did not participate) that found that while there is no conclusive link that long-term cellphone users were more prone to cancer, the heaviest users could be more vulnerable.

“Consumers have a right to know whether they are buying the phone with the lowest – or the highest – level of exposure to cellphone radiation. They also deserve to have up-to-date standards, which are now decades old,” Kucinich said.

Kucinich said in an interview that he will introduce his bill when Congress resumes session in two weeks. He said he has several co-sponsors.

“There is a high degree of interest in this among my colleagues,” he said.

This post has been updated since it was first published.

By Cecilia Kang | June 30, 2010; 2:36 PM ET

Congress may consider bill requiring cancer warning on cellphones..






San Francisco could be first city in US to mandate posting of cell phone emission levels

10 07 2010

Supes back posting of cell phone emission levels

San Francisco moved a step closer Tuesday to becoming the first city in the nation to require that retailers post in their stores notices on the level of radiation emitted by the cell phones they offer.

The Board of Supervisors voted 10-1 to give preliminary approval to the proposal. Final approval is expected next week. Supervisor Sean Elsbernd was the lone vote in opposition. Mayor Gavin Newsom, an early proponent of the legislation, plans to sign it into law when it reaches his desk.

Cast by backers as a pro-consumer measure, the ordinance would not ban the sale of certain cell phones but would require retailers to provide the “specific absorption rate” – a measurement of radiation registered with the Federal Communications Commission – next to phones displayed in their shops. Consumers also would be notified about where they can get more educational materials.

“This is about helping people make informed choices,” said Supervisor Sophie Maxwell, chief sponsor of the legislation.

But a trade group for the cell phone industry said the law could lead to confusion.

“Rather than inform, the ordinance will potentially mislead consumers with point-of-sale requirements suggesting that some phones are ‘safer’ than others, based on radio frequency emissions,” John Walls, vice president of public affairs for the Cellular Telecommunications and Internet Association, said after the vote. “In fact, all phones sold legally in the U.S. must comply with the Federal Communication Commission’s safety standards for (radio frequency) emissions.”

The FCC has adopted limits for safe exposure to radiation. The measurement shows the amount of radio frequency energy people absorb in their bodies when talking on a cell phone.

The potential long-term health impacts of cell phone use, particularly on the brain, is still a matter of scientific debate.

A similar right-to-know measure, carried by state Sen. Mark Leno, D-San Francisco, died in the Legislature this year amid heavy lobbying by the cell phone industry.

Small business advocates in San Francisco also lobbied against the local labeling law, saying they didn’t have an appetite for more government mandates, particularly in this tough economic climate.

“This is not about discouraging people from using their cell phones,” said Newsom spokesman Tony Winnicker. “This is a modest and commonsense measure to provide greater transparency and information to consumers.”

The posting requirements would be phased in, beginning in February. Violators would face fines of up to $300. City officials still need to educate retailers and figure out how the law would be enforced, when and if it is finally adopted. Hundreds of stores in San Francisco sell cell phones.

Renee Sharp, director of the California office of the Environmental Working Group, a national nonprofit research and advocacy group, lauded San Francisco for its “leadership in protecting the public’s health and right to know, and we hope it’s the beginning of a movement that won’t stop until everybody shopping for a phone has easy access to this information.”

E-mail Rachel Gordon at rgordon@sfchronicle.com.

This article appeared on page A – 1 of the San Francisco Chronicle

Supes back posting of cell phone emission levels.





Electromagnetic Therapy Treatment for Depression

9 07 2010

Depression ‘treatable by electromagnetic therapy’ – The Raw Story

Patients suffering from depression may find relief from treatments using electromagnetic stimulation, offering a possible alternative to mood-altering medications, a new study found.

The research, which was released on Monday, tested 190 patients who had previously failed to respond to antidepressant drugs.

Patients were given at least three weeks of magnetic stimulation. Scientists found that the treatment led to remissions for 14 percent of them, and that most remained in remission for several months.

The treatment, known as repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) offers future hope of a non-drug treatment for depression sufferers, although researchers said additional studies are needed.

“This study should help settle the debate about whether rTMS works for depression,” said Mark George of the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston, who led the research team.

“We can now follow up clues suggesting ways to improve its effectiveness, and hopefully further develop a potential new class of stimulation treatments for other brain disorders.”

Read the rest here:

Depression ‘treatable by electromagnetic therapy’ – The Raw Story





Airport Body Scanning Raises Radiation Exposure, Committee Says

9 07 2010

Airport Body Scanning Raises Radiation Exposure, Committee Sa

By Jonathan Tirone – February 5, 2010

Feb. 5 (Bloomberg) — Air passengers should be made aware of the health risks of airport body screenings and governments must explain any decision to expose the public to higher levels of cancer-causing radiation, an inter-agency report said.

Pregnant women and children should not be subject to scanning, even though the radiation dose from body scanners is “extremely small,” said the Inter-Agency Committee on Radiation Safety report, which is restricted to the agencies concerned and not meant for public circulation. The group includes the European Commission, International Atomic Energy Agency, Nuclear Energy Agency and the World Health Organization.

A more accurate assessment about the health risks of the screening won’t be possible until governments decide whether all passengers will be systematically scanned or randomly selected, the report said. Governments must justify the additional risk posed to passengers, and should consider “other techniques to achieve the same end without the use of ionizing radiation.”

President Barack Obama has pledged $734 million to deploy airport scanners that use x-rays and other technology to detect explosives, guns and other contraband. The U.S. and European countries including the U.K. have been deploying more scanners at airports after the attempted bombing on Christmas Day of a Detroit-bound Northwest airline flight.

“There is little doubt that the doses from the backscatter x-ray systems being proposed for airport security purposes are very low,” Health Protection Agency doctor Michael Clark said by phone from Didcot, England. “The issue raised by the report is that even though doses from the systems are very low, they feel there is still a need for countries to justify exposures.”

3-D Imaging

A backscatter x-ray is a machine that can render a three- dimensional image of people by scanning them for as long as 8 seconds, the report says. The technology has also raised privacy issues in countries including Germany because it yields images of the naked body.

The Committee cited the IAEA’s 1996 Basic Safety Standards agreement, drafted over three decades, that protects people from radiation. Frequent exposure to low doses of radiation can lead to cancer and birth defects, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Most of the scanners deliver less radiation than a passenger is likely to receive from cosmic rays while airborne, the report said. Scanned passengers may absorb from 0.1 to 5 microsieverts of radiation compared with 5 microsieverts on a flight from Dublin to Paris and 30 microsieverts between Frankfurt and Bangkok, the report said. A sievert is a unit of measure for radiation.

European Union regulators plan to finish a study in April on the effects of scanning technology on travelers’ privacy and health. Amsterdam, Heathrow and Manchester are among European airports that have installed the devices or plan to do so.

The U.S. Transportation Security Administration has said that it ordered 150 scanners from OSI Systems Inc.’s Rapiscan unit and will buy an additional 300 imaging devices this year. The agency currently uses 40 machines, which cost $130,000 to $170,000 each, produced by L-3 Communications Holdings Inc. at 19 airports including San Francisco, Atlanta and Washington D.C.

To contact the reporter on this story: Jonathan Tirone at jtirone@bloomberg.net

www.bloomberg.com

See Also: Radiation Safety Group Says Naked Body Scanners Increase Risk Of Cancer





GQ Explores Cell Phone Hazards To Your Health

9 07 2010

Ever worry that that gadget you spend hours holding next to your head might be damaging your brain? Well, the evidence is starting to pour in, and it’s not pretty. So why isn’t anyone in America doing anything about it?

Warning, Your Cell Phone May Be Hazardous To Your Health: Gear + Gadgets: GQ.