For those who have health concerns about personal or workplace use of mobile phones or an interest in understanding the risk implications revealed by the latest research from Hardell and Carlberg, a good place to start your reading is with the publications below.
These publications show the existing mainstream view of authorities prior to this latest research:
The Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency (ARPANSA) Fact Sheet 13 (see Reference 1)
World Health Organisation - Fact Sheet 193 -Mobile Telephones and Health Effects (see Reference 2)
The International Agency for Research on Cancer Report 2011(see Reference 3)
Fact Sheet 13 ARPANSA
This Fact Sheet clearly states at the beginning that:
"There is no clear evidence in the existing scientific literature that the use of mobile telephones poses any long-term health hazard (although the possibility of a small risk cannot be ruled out)"
However it would be a mistake to conclude from this that you don't need to know more. The Fact Sheet includes an overview of some of the research on the subject and statements such as:
“A few animal studies suggest that exposure to weak RF fields can accelerate the development of cancer. Further studies are required to establish their reproducibility and the existence or otherwise of a dose-response relationship. Whether these results are relevant to users of mobile telephones is not clear. In any event, these results cannot be dismissed at this stage.”
“On the specific issue of brain cancer occurring in users of these telephones, it is important to note that such cancers existed before the introduction of mobile telephones. It is simply not possible to identify the cause of any single case of cancer. Long-term studies to investigate whether mobile telephone users have a greater incidence of, say, brain cancer than the general population have not been completed.”
Fact Sheet 103 World Health Organisation
This informative Fact Sheet includes data such as:
- "The electromagnetic fields produced by mobile phones are classified by the International Agency for Research on Cancer [IARC] as possibly carcinogenic to humans.”
- “Studies are ongoing to more fully assess potential long-term effects of mobile phone use”
- “WHO will conduct a formal risk assessment of all studied health outcomes from radio frequency fields exposure by 2016."
- "While an increased risk of brain tumours is not established, the increasing use of mobile phones and the lack of data for mobile phone use over time periods longer than 15 years warrant further research of mobile phone use and brain cancer risk. In particular, with the recent popularity of mobile phone use among younger people, and therefore a potentially longer lifetime of exposure, WHO has promoted further research on this group. Several studies investigating potential health effects in children and adolescents are underway."
How to Handle the Risks
The risk handling that is recommended by ARPANSA and other bodies is based upon risk minimisation and includes:
- limiting the duration of mobile telephone calls
-only making calls where reception is good
- using a 'hands-free' attachment or speaker options
- by texting
- maximising the distance between your phone and your body
The Most Recent Research - Hardell & Carlberg
The WHO and the IARC both refer to the need for further research. Highly respected researchers, Dr. Lennart Hardell, a professor of Oncology at University of Örebro in Sweden, and statistician Michael Carlberg from the same University have now completed their latest research on the health risks of mobile phone use. It includes long term heavy mobile phone use of greater than 25 years.
Their research was published online on the 28th of October 2014 ahead of publication in print. (See Reference 4)
The research released is somewhat technical and is not in a form that can be easily understood by a layperson. However it is clear that they have concluded that:
- there is a consistent pattern of increased risk of glioma (brain cancer) and acoustic neuroma (a benign tumor that grows in the brain which affects hearing and balance) associated with mobile phone use
- RF-EMF (radio frequency electromagnetic fields emitted by mobile phones) should be classified as a human carcinogen
- the current safety limits and reference limits are not adequate to protect public health
At some point the WHO, IARC, and ARPANSA will consider the results of the Hardell and Carlberg research and publish their views and recommendations.
According to the WHO Fact Sheet 193 the “WHO will conduct a formal risk assessment of all studied health outcomes from radio frequency fields exposure by 2016.”
Meanwhile others will no doubt make and publish their evaluations of the implications of the latest research. For example see Reference 5, which provides key points of the results in plain language.
1. ARPANSA Fact Sheet 13 – Mobile Telephones and Health Effects
2. WHO Electromagnetic fields and public health: mobile phones
3. Press release 208 31 May 2011 IARC CLASSIFIES RADIOFREQUENCY ELECTROMAGNETIC FIELDS AS POSSIBLY CARCINOGENIC TO HUMANS
4. L. Hardell, M. Carlberg, Mobile phone and cordless phone use and the risk for glioma – Analysis of pooled case-control studies in Sweden, 1997–2003 and 2007–2009, Pathophysiology (2014)
5. Heavy Cell Phone Use Can Quadruple Your Risk of Deadly Brain Cancer
You are welcome to download and distribute the article in
your workplace if you feel it may be useful