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The Health Argument against Cell Phones and Cell Towers
26 aug. 2016
Ronald M. Powell, Ph.D
The biomedical evidence showing that the radiofrequency radiation emitted by cell phones and cell towers is harmful to health continues to grow. This document summarizes the health argument against cellular technology, whatever the benefits of that technology may be. You may wish to inform yourself about these arguments for any of several reasons:
You use a cell phone.
You encourage, or do not discourage, the use of cell phones by family members.
You live in, or are contemplating moving into, a community close to a cell tower.
Your school or college is considering permitting the installation of a cell tower on its property.
Your community is considering permitting the installation of cellular repeaters, small-cell towers, or even full cell towers within its jurisdiction. Below, I introduce myself, provide evidence of the harmfulness of cellular radiation, and show that government is not protecting us from harm and is unlikely to do so in the near future. That means that we must protect ourselves and our families at the individual and the community levels while working toward protective action by governments at the local, state, and Federal levels.
Who am I?
I am a retired U.S. Government career scientist (Ph.D., Applied Physics, Harvard University, 1975). During my Government career, I worked for the Executive Office of the President, the National Science Foundation, and the National Institute of Standards and Technology. For those organizations, respectively, I addressed Federal research and development program evaluation, energy policy research, and measurement development in support of the electronics and electrical-equipment industries and the biomedical research community. I currently interact with other scientists and with physicians around the world on the impact of electromagnetic fields on human health.
Evidence of harm
I present below key evidence, and associated references, that the exposure of humans to radiofrequency radiation, and specifically cellular radiation, is harmful.
In 2016, the National Toxicology Program, at the National Institutes of Health, linked cellular radiation to brain and heart tumors.
The National Toxicology Program (NTP), at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), just published the “Partial Findings” of a $25 million multi-year study of the impact of cellular radiation on health. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration “nominated” this NTP study. The NTP indicated that this is the largest and most complex study ever conducted by the NTP.
The NTP study exposed each of six separate groups of male rats to one of the six possible combinations of three different levels of cellular radiation and two different modulation formats. The modulation format is the method used to impress information on the cellular signal. A separate seventh group of male rats was used as a “control”, that is, for comparison, and was protected from exposure to any cellular radiation.
The NTP study found a “likely” causal relationship between exposure to cellular radiation and the occurrence of malignant brain cancer (glioma) and benign nerve tumors (schwannomas) of the heart in the male rats:
. The rates of occurrence of brain glioma in the male rats ranged from 0 to 3.3 percent for the six groups exposed to radiation. The mean rate of occurrence was 2.0 percent across all six groups. (2)
. The rates of occurrence of heart schwannoma in the male rats ranged from 1.1 to 6.6 percent for the six groups exposed to radiation. The mean rate of occurrence was 3.5 percent across all six groups. (3)
The seventh group of male rats, which was used as a control and which was protected from exposure to any cellular radiation, experienced no instances of brain glioma or heart schwannoma.
The NTP considered its findings so important to public health that it issued the “Partial Findings” (May 2016) prior to completing the full study. The NTP then presented those findings at an international conference (BioEM2016, June 2016) attended by 300 scientists from 41 countries. The NTP characterized the motivation for the early release of the “Partial Findings” this way:
“Given the widespread global usage of mobile communications among users of all ages, even a very small increase in the incidence of disease resulting from exposure to RFR radiofrequency radiation could have broad implications for public health. There is a high level of public and media interest regarding the safety of cell phone RFR and the specific results of these NTP studies.“
The NTP promised further findings from its study for publication through 2017. Included in those further findings will be test results on mice. You can learn more about this study from the following references:
Reference: NTP’s brief description of its study. National Toxicology Program: Cell Phones.
Reference: NTP’s published “Partial Findings” of the study. Michael Wyde, Mark Cesta, Chad Blystone, Susan Elmore, Paul Foster, Michelle Hooth, Grace Kissling, David Malarkey, Robert Sills, Matthew Stout, Nigel Walker, Kristine Witt, Mary Wolfe, and John Bucher, Report of Partial Findings from the National Toxicology Program Carcinogenesis Studies of Cell Phone Radiofrequency Radiation in Hsd: Sprague Dawley® SD rats (Whole Body Exposure), posted June 23, 2016.
Reference: Informative discussion of the NTP study. Environmental Health Trust, Frequently Asked Questions about the U.S. National Toxicology Program Radiofrequency Rodent Carcinogenicity Research Study. (http://ehtrust.org/science/facts-national-toxicology-program-cellphone-rat-cancer-study)
Reference: Announcement of the BioEM2016 presentation. Results of NIEHS’ National Toxicology Program GSM/CDMA phone radiation study to be presented at BioEM2016 Meeting in Ghent, 05 June 2016 — 10 June 2016 Ghent University, Belgium.
Reference: Viewgraphs presented by Michael Wyde, Ph.D., NTP study scientist, at BioEM2016 Meeting, Ghent, Belgium, June 8, 2016. NTP Toxicology and Carcinogenicity Studies of Cell Phone Radiofrequency Radiation. (http://ntp.niehs.nih.gov/ntp/research/areas/cellphone/slides_bioem_wyde.pdf )
The NTP study reinforces the classification of radiofrequency radiation, including cellular radiation, as a possible human carcinogen, made by the International Agency for Research on Cancer of the World Health Organization in 2011.
In its “Partial Findings” the NTP noted that its study reinforces a decision made by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) of the World Health Organization (WHO) in 2011. That decision classified radiofrequency radiation, including specifically cellular radiation, as a Group 2B carcinogen (possible carcinogen for humans). This classification was based on the increased risk of malignant brain cancer (glioma) and acoustic neuroma (a benign tumor of the auditory nerve), which is a form of schwannoma.
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