There’s no conclusive evidence linking mobile phones and illness, but an environmental lobby group says better safe than sorry
A report from an environmental lobby group has criticised RIM Blackberries and handsets from Motorola for emitting high levels of radiation.
The Motorola Moto VU204 has the highest radiation of any cell phone, according to a comprehensive online consumer guide to radiation emitted by more than 1000 cell phones, carried out by the Environmental Working Group, a US-based nonprofit research organisation focused on protecting health and the environment.
Two of Research In Motion’s popular BlackBerry smartphones made the top 10: the BlackBerry Curve 8330, at No. 4, and the BlackBerry Bold 9000, at No. 10.
The online tool lets consumers check on the radiation emitted by their phone, compiled from data provided by manufacturers, and illustrated by graphics. EWG says the guide is needed to fill the information gap left by the US government’s failure to require cell phone makers and vendors to disclose emission levels on labels or in-store advertising displays.
There is at present no conclusive scientific evidence that mobile phone radiation causes health problems. An Institute of Cancer Research study in 2006 found no conclusive link with brain tumours, and another study in 2005 found no link with acoustic neuroma.
But the EWG says doubt is enough: “We would like to be able to say that cell phones are safe,” said Olga Naidenko, PhD, EWG senior scientist and lead author of the study. “But we can’t. The most recent science, while not conclusive, raises serious issues about the cancer risk of cell phone use that must be addressed through further research. In the meantime, consumers can take steps to reduce exposure.”
According to the guide, the lowest emission handsets are led by Samsung’s Impression, along with another four Samsung phones in the top ten. Motorola, LG, Sanyo also have low emission handsets.
The report recommends using headsets and sending more text messages, talking less and staying off the phone when it indicates there is a weak signal.
Public health officials’ concerns about the possible dangers of radiofrequency emissions are intensifying as wireless devices proliferate. According to the CTIA Wireless Association, an international industry group, some 60 percent of the global population—4 billion people—subscribes to wireless services.
The EWG points out that health agencies in six nations – Switzerland, Germany, Israel, France, the United Kingdom and Finland – have issued warnings to limit cell phone use, particularly by children, whose softer, thinner skulls are less able to shield the brain from radiation. Scientists have found that children’s brains absorb twice as much cell phone radiation as those of adults.
The EWG’s analysis of possible public health risks of cell phone radiation completes a ten month investigation of more than 200 peer-reviewed studies, government advisories and industry documents. The organisation concluded that current US cell phone radiation standards, set by the Federal Communications Commission and based largely on 1992 cell phone industry recommendations, are outdated and allow 20 times more radiation to penetrate the head than the rest of the body. “The first cell phones were marketed to adults,” Naidenko said. “But today, children are just as likely to own a cell phone as a video game, baseball or bicycle.”Peter Judge contributed to this article