IT'S GONNA GIT YA, ON DOWN THE ROAD!
"Cellphone industry attacks San Francisco's ruling on radiation"
By Cecilia Kang
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, June 29, 2010; A01
San Francisco, a city that banned the plastic bag, now has waded into
the muddy territory of cellphone radiation, setting off a call to arms
in the $153 billion wireless industry.
Last week, the Board of Supervisors passed a law -- the first in the
nation -- requiring retailers to inform their customers how much
radiation the cellphones on their shelves emit, so shoppers can figure
out how close the devices come to the upper limits on radiation set by
the Federal Communications Commission.
The law, which goes into effect early next year, didn't mention the
word, but it was all about one thing: cancer, and whether cellphones
The cellphone industry answered with its own C-word -- cancel. After
the vote, the CTIA wireless trade group called off its fall show,
scheduled for San Francisco. Elsewhere in the country, the industry
has been more successful. Earlier this year, similar laws in Maine and
California were beaten back by the makers of the iPhone and Droid and
the telecom giants that carry those phones on their networks.
"San Francisco has gotten out front on a number of issues
historically," said John Walls, a CTIA spokesman, "but in this case,
we are concerned they are leading the pack down a wrong and misleading
Lacking conclusive evidence one way or the other, studies relating to
cellphone safety are being hurled about frenetically as cellphones
grow ever more powerful and pervasive: Americans have more than 285
million mobile phones at their ears, and the number in use globally
reaches 4.5 billion.
In 2006, Lennart Hardell, a professor of oncology and cancer
epidemiology at the University Hospital in Orebro, Sweden, reported
that adults he followed who had used cellphones for more than 10 years
"give a consistent pattern of increased risk for acoustic neuroma and
glioma," forms of brain tumors. That study has been used as the basis
for public health alerts by way of commercials, billboards and warning
labels in nations including Britain, Israel, Finland and France, but
it has had little resonance in the United States.
Hardell published a report last year that said teens and children have
a fourfold increased chance of getting brain cancer.
The National Toxicology Program (NTP), part of the National Institutes
of Health, is about to begin a $20 million study using rodents to test
the effects of cellphone radiation. But a study on animals has its
limitations, and it won't tackle questions about the effects on
children, said Ronald Herberman, former director of the University of
Pittsburgh Cancer Institute.
"I believe we have ample evidence for questioning the long-term
impacts of cellphones on health and solid grounds for concerns about
the long-term implications of their use," he said.
The last major study done by the U.S. cellphone industry was published
in 2002. Citing privacy concerns, corporations have declined to
release records of heavy cellphone use to match against incidence of
The issue of children and cellphones has not been widely studied, even
as three out of four teenagers use a cellphone.
In a Senate subcommittee hearing in September, a member of the NTP
said there is potentially a greater risk that children, with their
thinner skulls, would suffer from the absorption of radio frequencies
in their brain tissue. But when asked by Sen. Arlen Specter (D-Pa.)
whether he would recommend limits for children, NTP Associate Director
John Boucher said, "I don't think we are in a position yet to make
Studies prompt concern
A cellphone call is carried over the same kind of radio frequencies as
those that funnel the evening news and "Dancing With the Stars" into
living-room televisions. For a call to be placed, radio frequencies
move at lower powers between a device and a cell tower. Since the
1980s, scientists have questioned how those microwaves affect the
"A large number of studies have been performed over the last two
decades to assess whether mobile phones pose a potential health risk,"
the World Health Organization states on its Web site. "To date, no
adverse health effects have been established for mobile phone use."
The Food and Drug Administration and the FCC, the agencies that
oversee cellphone use and health, say users who want to reduce
exposure to radio-frequency energy should limit conversations and use
hands-free devices, which place more distance between a phone and the
Last month, 13 nations in Europe and Asia released the results of a
decade-long study on long-term use. Scientists debated the results,
saying the study was flawed because it relied too much on the
subjects' memories of how much they used their phones.
The report, funded largely by the biggest global cellphone trade
group, said that there was no conclusive link between cellphone use
and cancer but that there were "suggestions" that heavy use could
increase the risk of glioma. NIH issued a statement after the report's
release, emphasizing that the study showed no link.
But some experts said even the suggestion of a link warrants concern.
"When you have suggestive evidence, you don't wait until you have
everything conclusive before you start warning about it," said David
Carpenter, a University of Albany public health physician and
professor. "That is the essence of cautionary principle."
Warning efforts opposed
U.S. standards mandate that the amount of energy seeping into the
body, known as the specific absorption rate, can range from 0.2 watts
per kilogram of body tissue to 1.6 watts.
Some companies offer guidelines of their own. The Nokia 1100, for
instance, warns that the phone meets radio-frequency guidelines only
when it is held at least 1.5 centimeters from the body. Motorola
recommends keeping the antenna of a device at least 2.5 centimeters (1
inch) from the body. BlackBerry warns that one of its devices "SHOULD
NOT be worn or carried on the body" without a BlackBerry-approved belt
But attempts to require warnings or explanations have sparked strong
Earlier this month, state Sen. Mark Leno, a San Francisco area
Democrat, introduced a California bill he said would simply highlight
the information some cellphone companies already note in user manuals.
AT&T, a perennial supporter, stopped contributing campaign funds. The
company declined a request for an interview.
"My bill was not about warnings or a call to reduce cellphone use; it
was about education and letting people decide on their own from
information provided," Leno said. It failed.
Earlier this year, a Maine bill proposed labels on cellphones warning
of potential health risks for young users.
The CTIA, the high-tech industry group TechAmerica and the Maine
Merchants Association hired local lobbyists to convince legislators
that a proposed warning label showing an X-ray image of radiation
penetrating a child's brain was fear-mongering. They were joined by
Apple, Verizon and AT&T, according to state lobbying disclosure
Dane Snowden, a vice president for the CTIA and former FCC head of
consumer protection, said at a hearing in Maine that federal standards
"As you can see, this isn't the wireless industry's opinion. . . .
it's science," Snowden said.
The bill failed, and Andrea Boland, who introduced it, didn't
understand all the fuss.
"It's very unpopular to bring up this subject because cellphones are
so celebrated -- seen as glamorous, fun and important for safety,"
Boland said. "But I'm left asking, why are people so resistant to
this? It's a precaution only. No one is saying, 'Don't use your
cellphone.' " http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn...062805231.html
BUT, BUT ...
The Washington Post
Tuesday, June 29, 2010; HE02
"Study finds no cancer-cellphone link"
There's been a lot of concern about the possible health effects of
emissions from cellphones, including possible risks of living too
close to cellphone towers. That concern has been heightened by reports
of cancer clusters near cellphone base stations. Well, there's some
reassuring news out about whether it's dangerous to live near one of
those bases. A new British study has found that children born to
mothers who lived near one of those towers when they were pregnant do
not appear to be at increased risk for cancer.
In a paper published in the British medical journal BMJ, researchers
at Imperial College London studied 1,397 children age 4 and younger
who had been given diagnoses of leukemia or a tumor in the brain or
central nervous system between 1999 and 2001; they compared this group
with 5,588 similar children who had not received a cancer diagnosis.
The study found no association between the risk of cancer and whether
their mothers had lived near a cellphone tower.
The researchers acknowledged that their findings do not rule out the
possibility that children in the first group may be at risk for other
health problems later in life. But the findings should help
researchers put any reports of cancer clusters near cellphone towers
In an editorial accompanying the study, John Bithell of the University
of Oxford said that the stress and costs of moving away from cellphone
towers cannot be justified based on the existing scientific evidence.
-- Rob Stein http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn...062803795.html