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Call for action to reduce harm from mobile phone radiation

The 750-page volume, “Late Lessons from Early Warnings,” includes twenty new case studies and has major implications for policy, science and society. Although the report was prepared by the European Environment Agency to provide guidance to the EU nations, its implications are global.

Brain tumor risk associated with cell phone use is addressed in one of the report's chapters. The report highlights the classification of this form of electromagnetic radiation (EMR) as "possibly carcinogenic", or cancer causing, by the World Health Organization's (WHO) International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) in 2011.

The research that has found increased brain tumor risk associated with long term mobile phone use is reviewed. The authors note that governments and industry have been slow to respond to the WHO’s precautionary warnings and urges policy makers to respond to early warnings more quickly. It argues that industries that cause future harm must pay for the damage and suggests that taking early precautions can stimulate rather than stifle innovation.

The report accuses the mobile phone industry of “inertia in considering the various studies and taking the IARC carcinogenic classification into account,” criticizes the media for not “providing the public with robust and consistent information on potential health risks,” and attacks governments for shirking “their responsibilities to protect public health from this widespread source of radiation.”

Although the report acknowledges the many benefits of mobile phones to society, it recommends the need for precautionary actions to reduce cell phone radiation exposures to minimize the extent and seriousness of the risks to the brain and other organs.

The report makes four specific recommendations about cell phones:

a. Governments, the mobile phone industry, and the public should take all reasonable measures to reduce EMR exposure, especially from mobile phones, particularly exposure to children and young adults who are likely most at risk for brain and salivary gland tumors. The report recommends texting, use of hands-free sets, and improved design of phones which generate less radiation and make hands-free use more convenient.

b. Governments should reconsider the scientific basis for the present exposure standards “which have serious limitations such as reliance on the contested thermal effects paradigm; and simplistic assumptions about the complexities of radio frequency exposures.”

c. Mobile phones should be required to have effective labeling and warnings about potential risks for users.

d. Adequate funding should be provided for the “urgently needed research into the health effects of phones” and base stations. Funding could include industry grants and a small fee on the purchase and/or use of mobile phones.

It is time for the U.S. to end its two decades of denial and assume a leadership role in adopting precautionary measures to reduce the potential harms associated with exposure to mobile phone radiation. Otherwise we may a steep price in terms of preventable health care costs, lost productivity, and reduced quality of life.

by S. C.
24 january 2013, Food & Fun > Health

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