Global Concern

Governments and organisations all around the world are taking action to encourage us to reduce our exposure to mobile phone radiation.

Research considering the health risks of using mobile phones continues to be conducted around the world. The body of evidence demonstrating that electromagnetic radiation emitted by mobile phones (microwave radiation) can have effects on our bodies has steadily been accumulating and is now substantial.

Consequently, governments and organisations are issuing advice urging a precautionary approach to using these devices and are encouraging us to limit our exposure.

Government Action

New guidelines on exposure to radiofrequency energy from cell phones1.

The Californian Department of Public Health (CDPH) has issued new advice on how both adults and children can take practical steps to reduce their levels of exposure to radiofrequency energy from cell phones.

The new guidance identifies studies that suggest that there is a link between long term use of cell phones and illnesses such as cancers, lower sperm count and inactive or less mobile sperm, as well as effects on memory and learning.

The new advice also identifies children as being at greater risk due to the level of growth and development occurring in their bodies and because of the greater cumulative exposure over their lifetime.

Canadian Parliament warns that cell phones may cause health issues2.

A report published by the parliamentary committee warns that cell phones may cause cancer, infertility and learning disabilities. The report identifies three of the largest studies on the link to cancer (The European Interphone Study, the French CERENAT Study, and the Swedish Hardell Group Studies) and recognises that all results show a greater risk of cancer at higher levels of use2.

Canada’s House of Commons Standing committee on Health also urged the federal government to launch a public awareness campaign about the possible hazards and safe use of wireless technologies2.

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Cell phones classified as possibly carcinogenic to humans

The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) classified radiofrequency electromagnetic fields as possibly carcinogenic to humans (Group 2B)3.

This classification is based on an increased risk of a malignant type of brain cancer associated with mobile phone use1. Dr Jonathan Samet, overall Chairman of the IARC working group, stated that “the evidence, whilst still accumulating, is strong enough to support a conclusion and the 2B classification. The conclusion means that there could be some risk, and therefore we need to keep a close eye on the link between cell phones and cancer risk”.

The Director of the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) stated that “given the potential consequences for public health of this classification and findings, it is important that additional research be conducted into the long term, heavy use of mobile phones. Pending the availability of such information, it is important to take pragmatic measures to reduce exposure”3.

References

1  California Department of Public Health (CDPH), Division of Environmental and Occupational Disease control, 2017. How to reduce exposure to radiofrequency energy from Cell Phones. Available at: <https://www.cdph.ca.gov/Programs/CCDPHP/DEODC/EHIB/CDPH%20Document%20Library/Cell-Phone-Guidance.pdf> [Accessed 7 January 2018]

2  Parliament of Canada, House of Commons, Report of the Standing Committee on Health, 2015. Radiofrequency Electromagnetic Radiation and the Health of Canadians. Available at: <http://www.ourcommons.ca/DocumentViewer/en/41-2/HESA/report-13/page-5> [Accessed 7 January 2018]

3  World Health Organisation (WHO), International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), 2011. IARC Classifies Radiofrequency Electromagnetic Fields as Possibly Carcinogenic to Humans, No. 208. [press release] 31 May 2011. Available at http://www.iarc.fr/en/media-centre/pr/2011/pdfs/pr208_E.pdf [Accessed 7 January 2018].