The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) is updating its recommendations for cell phone radiation exposure in light of new study findings released by the US National Toxicology Program, which is part of the National Institutes of Health. Researchers found that higher exposure to wireless radiation significantly increased the rate of highly malignant heart and brain cancers in rodents. AAP, which is the largest group of children’s physicians in the country, has issued updated recommendations to reduce wireless cell phone radiation.
Jennifer A. Lowry, M.D., FAACT, FAAP, chair of the AAP Council on Environmental Health Executive Committee said in the press release, “They’re not toys. They have radiation that is emitted from them and the more we can keep it off the body and use (the phone) in other ways, it will be safer,”
The NTP study was led by Ronald L. Melnick, PhD, National Institutes of Health toxicologist and senior advisor to the Environmental Health Trust. He noted that the findings are reflective of previous epidemiological studies in adult cell phone users. “The findings of brain tumors (gliomas) and malignant schwann cell tumors of the heart in the NTP study, as well as DNA damage in brain cells, present a major public health concern because these occurred in the same types of cells that have been reported to develop into tumors in epidemiological studies of adult cell phone users,” he said, according to the release. “For children the cancer risks may be greater than that for adults because of greater penetration and absorption of cell phone radiation in the brains of children and because the developing nervous system of children is more susceptible to tissue-damaging agents. Based on this new information, regulatory agencies need to make strong recommendations for consumers to take precautionary measures and avoid close contact with their cell phones, and especially limit or avoid use of cell phones by children.”
The AAP has updated its website to include the new information and gives advice on how to reduce exposure. The page also notes that “Another problem is that the cell phone radiation test used by the FCC is based on the devices’ possible effect on large adults—not children. Children’s skulls are thinner and can absorb more radiation.”
The AAP has several recommendations for limiting exposure to cell phone radiation. The group says to use text messaging, speaker mode or a hand-free device. If you are holding the phone up to your ear, try to keep it at least an inch away from your head and keep the call as short as possible. AAP warns against carrying a cell phone against your body, such as in a pocket, sock or bra. The group notes that cell phone manufacturers cannot ensure that the amount of radiation being released is safe. Users should also note that cell phones will give off more radiation when there is a weak signal (lower number of bars), it is best to wait to use the device when the signal is strong. The cell phone has to work harder in cars, elevators and buses, giving off more radiation; users should avoid using their cell phones in these locations. The AAP also says that if users plan to watch a movie on their device, they should download it first and then switch to airplane mode while watching in order minimize unnecessary radiation.