Consumer Reports: Cell Phone Radiation Warnings

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Consumer Reports: Cell Phone Radiation Warnings

 Sep 24, 2015

Consumer Reports issues cell phone safety recommendations 

Consumer Reports (CR) published an article today online entitled, “Does Cell-Phone Radiation Cause Cancer?”

CR advises cell phone users take safety precautions, government strengthen cell phone radiation regulations, and manufacturers prominently display “steps that cell-phone users can take to reduce exposure to cell-phone radiation.”

According to CR, only about five percent of Americans are “very concerned’ about cell phone radiation, and few take steps to reduce their exposure. Furthermore, “many respected scientists” and federal agencies “don’t seem very troubled” about this health risk.

“But not everyone is unconcerned. In May 2015, a group of 190 independent scientists from 39 countries, who in total have written more than 2,000 papers on the topic, called on the United Nations, the World Health Organization, and national governments to develop stricter controls on cell-phone radiation. They point to growing research—as well as the classification of cell-phone radiation as a possible carcinogen in 2011 by the International Agency for Research on Cancer, part of the WHO—suggesting that the low levels of radiation from cell phones could have potentially cancer-causing effects ….”

“Some countries have taken steps to protect users, at least when it comes to children. For example, France, Russia, the U.K., and Zambia have either banned ads that promote phones’ sale to or use by children, or issued cautions for use by children.

The city council of Berkeley, Calif., has also acted. In May 2015, it approved a “Right to Know” law that requires electronics retailers to notify consumers about the proper handling of cell phones.”

CR notes that the FCC’s cell phone safety test established in 1996 protects users only from heating effects due to cell phone radiation; yet, many laboratory studies suggest that exposure to low intensity cell phone radiation can have harmful effects without raising body temperature including creation of “stress proteins” and promotion of brain tumors.

CR examined five large population studies:

“three of the studies—one from Sweden, another from France, and a third that combined data from 13 countries—suggest a connection between heavy cell-phone use and gliomas, tumors that are usually cancerous and often deadly. One of those studies also hinted at a link between cell phones and acoustic neuromas (noncancerous tumors), and two studies hinted at meningiomas, a relatively common but usually not deadly brain tumor.”

CR comments that “none of the studies can prove a connection between cell phones and brain cancers.” CR further notes that cell phone designs have changed.

[JMM: No study can prove that cell phones are safe, and many studies have found evidence for other health effects including neurologic disorders, infertility, and reproductive health effects. Moreover, some research suggests that current cell phone technologies are more harmful than earlier technologies.]

CR recommends that cell phone users take the following precautions:

  • “Try to keep the phone away from your head and body. That is particularly important when the cellular signal is weak—when your phone has only one bar, for example—because phones may increase their power then to compensate.
  • Text or video call when possible.
  • When speaking, use the speaker phone on your device or a hands-free headset.
  • Don’t stow your phone in your pants or shirt pocket. Instead, carry it in a bag or use a belt clip.”
Finally CR makes several policy recommendations:

• “The Federal Communications Commission’s cell-phone radiation test is based on the devices’ possible effect on large adults, though research suggests that children’s thinner skulls mean they may absorb more radiation.

• Consumer Reports agrees with concerns raised by the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Government Accountability Office about the tests, and thinks that new tests should be developed that take into account the potential vulnerability of children.

• We think that cell-phone manufacturers should prominently display advice on steps that cell-phone users can take to reduce exposure to cell-phone radiation.”

CR is a monthly American magazine that accepts no advertising. It has been published since 1936. CR is well known for its strong policies on editorial independence. As of 2007, 4.3 million people read the magazine and 2.8 million subscribed to the web site.

This article will appear in the November 2015 issue of Consumer Reports magazine.

The online version of the article is available at  http://bit.ly/CRoncellphoneradiation

Sep 24, 2015

Report Examines Cell Phone Radiation  (2 minute video)
Jean Elle, 11 PM News, NBC Bay Area, Sep 24, 2015

July 14, 2014

Consumer Reports (CR), in their 2010 annual cellphone issue, cited our meta-analysis on mobile phone use and tumor risk published in late 2009. And In their 2011 annual cellphone issue, CR continued to provide a precautionary health warning about cell phone radiation.

Shortly after the 2011 annual cellphone  edition was published, I did an hour phone interview with two of their staff and began sending CR periodic updates about the emerging science and policy developments.
CR wrote several blog pieces during 2011 (see below). However, with the exception of the current piece and a story in 2012, CR stopped covering the health risks of cell phone radiation exposure in October, 2011.
Hence, the 2012, 2013, and 2014 annual cellphone issues of CR failed to mention cellphone radiation health risks or the need to reduce exposure.
Hopefully, the new piece that CR posted on July 12 is a sign that CR has decided to once again warn its readers to take precaution to reduce their cell phone radiation exposure. Also, I hope CR will once again inform its readers about the latest scientific evidence. Moreover, CR should warn its readers that the research evidence for carcinogenicity that has been published since WHO declared cell phone radiation “possibly carcinogenic” in 2011 is now considerably stronger.
Following are comments I sent to CR today:

“… Although I approve of CR’s recent post (7/12/2014), “How to cut your exposure to cell-phone radiation,” it does not go far enough. Based upon the research, I have generated a more extensive list of risk reduction tips.  At the very least, I would recommend that CR forewarn its readers not to keep their cell phones near their genitals. We have substantial evidence that cell phone radiation damages sperm in males and some evidence of reproductive health effects  (i.e., neurological disorders) in human offspring as well as mice for females exposed to cell phone radiation during pregnancy.  We also have preliminary evidence of increased breast cancer risk for women who kept cellphones in their bras.”

A search of the CR web site found the following ten articles on cell phone radiation published since 2009.  To read some of these stories on the CR website requires a subscription to CR.

Cell Phone Radiation – Consumer Reports News

Jul 12, 2014 – …your exposure to cellphone radiation Find Ratings Cell phones Q. Is it true that cell phones emit dangerous levels of radiation?

” Possibly … Some studies have suggested that cell-phone use alters brain function and may increase the risk of some cancers, although the overall evidence hasn’t found a clear link. More study is needed to determine the health effects of cell-phone use, and what constitutes a safe level of use.

For now, you can reduce radiation exposure by:

  • Limiting talk time;
  • Using a speakerphone or headset;
  • Holding the phone away from your ear; and
  • Replacing some calls with text messaging or e-mail.”

Aug 9, 2012 …Commission set a limit on how much low-level radiation cell phone users are exposed to. It’s time for a…

“… Current limits may be based on out-of-date research, and its test requirements may underestimate the maximum exposure users experience when holding phones against the body, according to the GAO review, done at the request of members of Congress …

The agency has also not reassessed its testing procedures used to certify cell phones’ compliance with SAR limits to ensure that they measure the maximum exposure a user could experience …

Bottom line. “We agree with the recommendations and concerns raised by the GAO report,” says Urvashi Rangan, Ph.D., director of Consumer Safety and Sustainability at Consumer Reports. “Consumers who want to take precautions should be aware of the ways to reduce their radiation exposure while using their mobile phones.” Here’s how: • Limit cell-phone use, particularly by kids. • Hold the phone away from your head and body, especially when a call is connecting.• Text or use a speakerphone or headset to reduce absorption in your head.:

Oct 19, 2011 …s “safe exposure” limits for low-level radiation absorbed from cell phones operating at their highest possible power level—known as…

“Bottom line: Despite the many questions this article raises about SAR values and whether they adequately protect cell phone users from the potential effects of cell phone radiation, the Food and Drug Administration, which shares regulatory responsibilities for cell phones with the FCC, maintains that the “weight of scientific evidence” has not linked cell phones with harm except through heating tissue.

However, the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) recently classified cell-phone radiation as “possibly carcinogenic to humans.” The IARC action is based on limited evidence and doesn’t convincingly link typical cell-phone use with cancer. But it does increase the need for further study, as well as better and more visible guidance to consumers on the issue. (We contacted the FCC for this article but did not hear back by the time of publication.) “

Details emerge on possible cell-phone radiation risk
Jun 23, 2011 …on Cancer, which last month classified low-level radiation from cell phones as “possibly carcinogenic to humans,” provided more details yesterday…

“A group of scientists at the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer, which last month classified low-level radiation from cell phones as “possibly carcinogenic to humans,” provided more details yesterday about how they arrived at their conclusions in a report published online in The Lancet Oncology.

Jun 1, 2011…for Research on Cancer yesterday classified low-level radiation from cell phones “possibly carcinogenic to humans” based on limited evidence linking…

“The World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer yesterday classified low-level radiation from cell phones “possibly carcinogenic to humans” based on limited evidence linking cell-phone use with an increased risk of glioma, a type of brain cancer. While that’s certain to raise the level of discussion about the health effects of cell phones, government regulators remain reassuring about the potential risks …

In a statement released yesterday, John Walls, vice president of public affairs for CTIA The Wireless Association, said that the IARC classification “does not mean cell phones cause cancer.” …

Bottom line: The IARC action is based on limited evidence and doesn’t convincingly link typical cell-phone use with cancer. But it does increase the need for further study, as well as better and more visible guidance to consumers on the issue.
We will continue to monitor the research on cell-phone safety. In the meantime, if you’re concerned about radiation, you can minimize exposure by using a speakerphone or hands-free headset, holding the phone away from the head and body (especially when a call is connecting), and reducing use, especially by children. Of course, you can also text.”

Feb 23, 2011…a new wrinkle to a long-standing concern of cell phone users, the Journal…that low-level radiation from cell phones…

“…Although, as the FDA has stated, the “weight of scientific evidence has not linked cell phones with any health problems,” consumers continue to be concerned. The city of San Francisco recently enacted an ordinance requiring that cell phones disclose the amount of radiation emitted, and Consumer Reports has called for a national research program and more guidance for cell phone users on potential risks.”

Feb 22, 2011 -Low-level radiation from cell phones can affect brain function during short-term use, according to a report in the Feb…

“Low-level radiation from cell phones can affect brain function during short-term use, according to a report in the Feb. 23 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association…

Bottom line: We will continue to monitor the research on cell-phone safety. In the meantime, if you’re concerned about radiation, you can minimize exposure by using a speakerphone or hands-free headset, holding the phone away from the head and body (especially when a call is connecting), and reducing use, especially by children.”

How risky is cell-phone radiation?
January 2011

“The Food and Drug Administration says the “weight of scientific evidence has not linked cell phones with any health problems,” including brain tumors from the low-level radiation that phones emit in normal use. Yet in the past year San Francisco lawmakers have enacted an ordinance requiring that cell phones disclose the amount of radiation emitted, and Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio) announced plans to push for radiation warnings on all cell phones.

Phone manufacturers are required by federal law to package every cell phone with information about its specific absorption rate (SAR) values. The higher the SAR value, the more radiation the body absorbs. But there’s usually no explanation provided with those numbers, not even the fact that all phones sold have levels lower than what the FDA considers a concern …Consumers Union believes a number of measures would benefit consumers:

  • The U.S. needs a national research program on cell phones and health. Rep. Kucinich has called for such an effort as part of his cell-phone safety proposals.
  • The FDA and the FCC should step up their efforts to provide better and more visible guidance to consumers on the risks, if any, of cell-phone radiation.
  • The FCC should mandate that the SAR information included with phones be more consistent. The information that’s currently provided varies greatly in its format and detail, as the photographs below illustrate.

Bottom line We will continue to track the research. In the meantime, if you are concerned about radiation, minimize exposure by using a speaker phone or hands-free headset, holding the phone away from the head and body (especially when a call is connecting), and reducing use, especially by children.”

New cell phone models fit changing lifestyles

…January 2010 Consumer Reports Magazine. Latest on Cell phones and services Overview…of cell-phone radiation continues. A recent…

“Research into the possible risks of cell-phone radiation continues. A recent article in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, based on research involving about 38,000 people, found a slightly increased risk of head and neck cancer among longtime cell-phone users. But more evidence is needed to understand the link, if any, between phones and cancer. We’ll keep tracking the research. If you want to minimize exposure, use a speaker phone or hands-free headset, hold the phone away from the head and body (especially when a call is connecting), and reduce usage, especially by children.”

Jan 2009…on the way. Questions have been raised about whether cell phones might elevate cancer…non-ionizing electromagnetic radiation. Most studies have…

“… Bottom line The Federal Communications Commission advises that if there is any risk, and at this point we do not know that there is, it is probably very small. Until more is known, people who want to minimize potential risks of radio waves from cell phones should use the speakerphone mode or a hands-free set while on calls and ask kids to do the same. They should also limit time spent on the phone and keep the antenna away from the head and body.”

            http://www.saferemr.com/2014/07/consumer-reports-warns-readers-to.html

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