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Study: Cell Phone Radiation Undermeasured

October 19, 2011
Written by: , Filed in: Neuroradiology, Pediatric Radiology
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The official process for measuring microwave radiation from mobile phones greatly underestimates the actual exposure, especially for children, according to a study published online Friday in Electromagnetic Biology and Medicine.

The study says that when a child uses a cell phone, the radiation absorption in the child’s head may be twice as high as an adult’s, and absorption in the skull’s bone marrow 10 times as high.

Even an adult who keeps a cell phone in a shirt or pants pocket receives radiation exposure that exceeds the limits of Federal Communications Commission guidelines, the study says.

The main problem, it says, is that the cell phone certification process, designed by the mobile-phone industry, uses a plastic model of the head called the Specific Anthropomorphic Mannequin (SAM). The SAM design was based on the top 10 percent of U.S. military recruits in 1989—in other words, large males.

The study recommends instead that phones be tested using a computer simulation certification process based on MRI scans of real human beings of various types, ranging from a 5-year-old girl to an obese male adult and including women in their third, seventh, and ninth months of pregnancy. The Food and Drug Administration already uses that FCC-approved process for other measurements.

Three of the study’s six authors are members of Environmental Health Trust (EHT), an advocacy group that, according to its Web site, “educates individuals, health professionals and communities about controllable environmental health risks and policy changes needed to reduce those risks.” Two of the other authors are members of EHT’s Scientific Advisory Group.

EHT Founder and President Devra Davis, PhD, one of the study’s authors, has written a book, published last year, titled Disconnect: The Truth About Cell Phone Radiation, What the Industry Has Done to Hide It, and How to Protect Your Family.

EHT provides a summary of the study’s findings (click here) on an affiliated Web site called Safer Phone Zone.

Cell phones emit microwave radiation, which is nonionizing—unable to change the chemical structure of substances. No studies have conclusively demonstrated adverse health effects at low levels, though the subject remains controversial. (Injuries at higher levels usually stem from heat induced by the radiation.)

So far, there seems to be no official response from CTIA-The Wireless Association, the wireless-phone trade group, or other industry sources.

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