An international health agency has classified radiation from cell phones as "possibly carcinogenic to humans," and called for more research into the effects of frequent, long-term use of mobile devices.
The World Health Organization's International Agency for Research on Cancer has evaluated more than 900 possible triggers of cancer since 1971, and found 400 to be likely or possible cancer-causing agents.
The agency's determination that radiofrequency electromagnetic fields are "possibly" carcinogenic groups cell phone radiation separately from agents the agency believes cause cancer or "probably" cause cancer.
"The conclusion means that there could be some risk, and therefore we need to keep a close watch for a link between cell phones and cancer risk," Jonathan Samet, chairman of the agency working group, said in a statement accompanying the announcement.
The agency's determination centered on risk of glioma and acoustic neuroma; there wasn't adequate evidence to draw conclusions about the potential risk for other types of cancer. The studies that concerned the agency identified potential risk among those who use cell phones frequently, defined as more than 30 minutes per day over a 10-year period.
"Given the potential consequences for public health of this classification and findings, it is important that additional research be conducted into the long-term, heavy use of mobile phones. Pending the availability of such information, it is important to take pragmatic measures to reduce exposure such as hands‐free devices or texting," IARC director Christopher Wild said in a statement accompanying the announcement.
Mobile device manufacturers, and the Federal Communications Commission, which regulates cell phone radiation, have always stood by the safety of cell phones. The results of several studies, too, have stood in opposition to claims that cell phone radiation could be harmful. Media buzz about a handful of more worrisome studies, though, has helped to fuel some public concern. San Francisco last year passed a consumer awareness law requiring cell phone manufacturers to include radiation levels on packaging, and Environmental Working Group has publicized FCC data on relative radiation levels from various models.
To limit exposure to cell phone radiation, Environmental Working Group recommends people:
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