Cell Phone Health Risks Prompt FDA ActionJan 21, 2008 | Parker Waichman LLP Cell phones and their health consequences have become an increasing source of worry, especially as use of the wireless devices has increased exponentially in the last several years. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is now calling for a re-examination of cell phone health risks saying that past studies related to cell phone radiation need to be re-examined given the recent rise in mobile devices and their use. This follows a recent suggestion from the U.S. National Research Council advising further studies should be conducted on children and pregnant women to determine if cell phones or other wireless devices could damage health.
The FDA has asked the National Research Council—a part of the National Academies, a group that provides science, technology, and health policy advice to Congress and the federal government—to identify further research on the effects of long-term exposure to these devices. The council identified the need for studies of the potential health issues resulting from multiple, long-term, and low-intensity radio frequency exposure from mobile devices. Most current studies have evaluated effects of short-term exposure of healthy adults to radio frequency, according to the council.
It is believed that the current generation of children will be exposed to mobile devices for much longer periods than adults because they begin using the devices at an early age. A report issued by a National Academies committee cites several surveys indicating a significant increase in children owning mobile devices, but there are no relevant studies examining health risks for children; more are needed to measure effects of extended mobile device use by teenagers, children, pregnant women (and their fetuses), as well as exposure to cellular base station antennas. Although it's not known if children are more susceptible to radio frequency exposure, the research council and other institutions comprising the National Academies, believe children—because their organs are still developing—may be at increased risk.
The council also suggests studies be conducted that analyze amounts of radio frequency energy produced by antennas in mobile devices and how they penetrate the body. There have been studies already conducted on the effects mobile device radiation has on the brain.
In a recent series of studies, three separate European research groups looked at the effects of cell phone radiation emission on the brain. The research revealed there is an increased risk of brain tumors in people who used cell phones for at least ten years. Two studies found a link between brain tumor location and the side of the head where people reported they held their phones. One study suggested the greatest risk for disease was is in people who began using cell phones prior to age 20. Two of the studies—one conducted in England and the other in Germany—are part of a larger 13-nation Interphone Study, an effort sanctioned by the World Health Organizations. Past studies have also associated cell phones with cancer, although there are mixed views on the subject. But mobile devices are used differently than in the past. Newer phones have built-in antennas and because more people use them for texting and Internet access, phones are held closer to other parts of the body, the report found.