Thanks to reader “Laura” for sending me the link to this. If she would like her whole name for proper credit, she can let me know.
Sure there’s no actual evidence of cell phones or the rf radiation they produce causing cancer, but for one Maine legislator, that’s no reason not to put warnings on them. After all, there are some countries which insist on warning people about the presumed dangers of a device that all scientific data indicates is perfectly safe. Maine is not alone in considering labels on cell phones, although that certainly doesn’t make it right.
There’s no word on whether these labels will also appear on wifi routers, baby monitors, garage door openers and remote car starters. After all, cell phones are not the only devices that produce RF radiation.
Maine to consider cell phone cancer warning
AUGUSTA, Maine Ã¢â‚¬â€œ A Maine legislator wants to make the state the first to require cell phones to carry warnings that they can cause brain cancer, although there is no consensus among scientists that they do and industry leaders dispute the claim.
The now-ubiquitous devices carry such warnings in some countries, though no U.S. states require them, according to the National Conference of State Legislators. A similar effort is afoot in San Francisco, where Mayor Gavin Newsom wants his city to be the nation’s first to require the warnings.
Maine Rep. Andrea Boland, D-Sanford, said numerous studies point to the cancer risk, and she has persuaded legislative leaders to allow her proposal to come up for discussion during the 2010 session that begins in January, a session usually reserved for emergency and governors’ bills.
Boland herself uses a cell phone, but with a speaker to keep the phone away from her head. She also leaves the phone off unless she’s expecting a call. At issue is radiation emitted by all cell phones.
Under Boland’s bill, manufacturers would have to put labels on phones and packaging warning of the potential for brain cancer associated with electromagnetic radiation. The warnings would recommend that users, especially children and pregnant women, keep the devices away from their head and body.
The Federal Communications Commission, which maintains that all cell phones sold in the U.S. are safe, has set a standard for the “specific absorption rate” of radiofrequency energy, but it doesn’t require handset makers to divulge radiation levels.
The San Francisco proposal would require the display of the absorption rate level next to each phone in print at least as big as the price. Boland’s bill is not specific about absorption rate levels, but would require a permanent, nonremovable advisory of risk in black type, except for the word “warning,” which would be large and in red letters. It would also include a color graphic of a child’s brain next to the warning.
While there’s little agreement about the health hazards, Boland said Maine’s roughly 950,000 cell phone users among its 1.3 million residents “do not know what the risks are.”
All told, more than 270 million people subscribed to cellular telephone service last year in the United States, an increase from 110 million in 2000, according to CTIA-The Wireless Association. The industry group contends the devices are safe.
“With respect to the matter of health effects associated with wireless base stations and the use of wireless devices, CTIA and the wireless industry have always been guided by science, and the views of impartial health organizations. The peer-reviewed scientific evidence has overwhelmingly indicated that wireless devices do not pose a public health risk,” said CTIA’s John Walls.
James Keller of Lewiston, whose cell phone serves as his only phone, seemed skeptical about warning labels. He said many things may cause cancer but lack scientific evidence to support that belief. Besides, he said, people can’t live without cell phones.
“It seems a little silly to me, but it’s not going to hurt anyone to have a warning on there. If they’re really concerned about it, go ahead and put a warning on it,” he said outside a sporting good store in Topsham. “It wouldn’t deter me from buying a phone.”
While there’s been no long-term studies on cell phones and cancer, some scientists suggest erring on the side of caution.
So much bullshit and so little time. For one thing the statement that “there’s been no long-term studies on cell phones and cancer” is completely false. Numerous studies have been done that have tracked users of cell phones from the early 1980′s to 2000′s. Other studies have used accelerated exposure models, such as animals with shorter life cycles or tissue cultures. Still other studies exist that predate cell phone usage and track the cancer rates amongst those who live in the vicinity of radio and television transmitters, microwave relay stations or powerful military and civilian radar. For example, the US Air Force PAVE PAWS system and it’s predecessors have been in operation for about half a century and during that time numerous studies have been conducted to address concerns over the health effects of the systems.
These studies, whether long term or short term, whether examining mobile phones, microwave relay, radar or broadcasting have not shown any significant increase in the risk of cancer. Of course this is not unexpected. Cancer is the result of gene corruption or damage to cell chemistry and function – which cannot be caused by RF radiation.
Despite Borland’s claim that “numerous studies point to the cancer risk,” there has never been a single study that showed a clear link between RF radiation and cancer of any kind. There have been some studies which claimed to, although upon closer examination they did not meet basic scientific quality standards. However, of the high quality, peer-reviewed studies avaliable (and there are literally thousands) the worst any indicate is an increase in cancer incidence that is less than the study error.
And why a child’s brain next to the graphic, as suggested in San Fransisco? There’s no indication that RF radiation is dangerous to anyone, and even if it were, there’s no reason to presume a child would be more endangered than an adult. Even if cell phones had some danger (which they don’t) there is no reason to believe that they should be held away from the head or would pose a danger to the brain. After all, the brain is not necessarily as prone to cancer from enviornmental carcinogens as other organs. Ionizing radiation, for example, as much greater effect on organs like the thyroid or liver than it does on the brain. Cells which are most prone to the kind of damage that causes cancer tend to be varieties that reproduce quickly – this is not the case with those that make up most of the brain.
Since SAR seems to have no effect on cancer development, some of the nutty anti-cellphone groups have actually given up on that whole notion. SAR, or Specific Absorption Ratio is the most common criteria for evaluating RF device safety – it is based on the well established and tested thermal effects of RF radiation, which are neglidgable in consumer devices. The nuts at Bioiniative have actually started to claim that it’s the “information” transmitted over cell phones and not the intensity of the radiation that causes problems. The assclowns at Bioiniative are even mentioned in the article. Unbelievably, they even got their nonsense presented to the European Parliament.
Another “expert” mentioned is Dr. Ronald B. Herberman. Herberman is the director of the Pittsburgh Cancer Center, but doesn’t actually have any experience or training in the field of epidemiology or radiation safety. Last year he issued a statement acknowledging that there’s no data to indicate that cell phones cause cancer, but stating that there should be precautions taken anyway. The name of someone like Haberman can add credibility to these unfounded and thoroughly debunked claims, and Herberman really should be ashamed of himself for contributing to this scaremongering.
This entry was posted on Tuesday, December 22nd, 2009 at 11:39 pm and is filed under Bad Science, Just LAME, Obfuscation, Politics. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.
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