Report Stirs Debate on Cell Phone Safety
Environmental Working Group Warns of Health Risks; Other Experts Disagree
EWG Ranks Cell Phones by Radiation Emission
EWG's scientists say they are still using their cell phones, but they
suggest consumers buy phones with the lowest radiation emissions.
The EWG issued a mobile phone guide, rating more than 1,000 cell phones on
their radiation emissions. A high ranking on the list does not mean the phone
is the best or the safest, but simply that the phones had the lowest emissions
among the models for which data were available.
Here are the phones on the top 10 list for lowest radiation emissions:
- Samsung Impression
- Motorola RAZR V8
- Samsung SGH-t229
- Samsung Rugby
- Samsung Propel Pro
- Samsung Gravity
- T Mobile Sidekick
- LG Xenon
- Motorola Karma
- Sanyo Kantana II
The popular iPhone 3G landed about midway on the complete list. Data on
emissions for several phones were not available, the EWG says.
Much lower on the list, the phones with the highest radiation emissions
- T-Mobile Shadow
- Motorola W385
- Blackberry Curve 8330
- T-Mobile myTouch3G
- Motorola MOTO VU204
- Kyocera Jax S1300
''There has been a flurry of attention from advocacy groups regarding cell
phones and cancer," says Michael Thun, MD, the emeritus head of epidemiology
research for the American Cancer Society, who reviewed the report for
The conclusion that evidence of ill effects is rising is faulty, he tells
WebMD. "Basically the idea that there is a sea change in the evidence in the
past two or three years is incorrect," he says. "Essentially this report
focuses on studies that support their hypothesis that cell phones increase
brain cancer risk. The description of the evidence selectively emphasizes the
studies that suggest the risk and omit the evidence that suggests no risk."
As for the argument that earlier studies finding no ill health effects from
cell phone use were not conclusive because they didn't examine long-term use,
Thun points to Sweden, ''the country that has had the longest cell phone use.
And there is no increase in brain cancer in Sweden."
That's true, he says, although the percent of the population there using
mobile phones increased over the past two decades.
Even so, Thun says the report's conclusion -- that more government
regulation of mobile phones is needed -- is reasonable.
On its web page, the American Cancer Society notes that "cell phones
wouldn't be expected to cause cancer because they don't emit ionizing
radiation." Says Thun: "It's nonionizing. It doesn't break up DNA."
In the view of the American Cancer Society, Thun says, those concerned
about cell phone use can choose to use a corded or cordless earpiece.
''Exposure [to the cell phones' electromagnetic waves] comes from the antenna.
If you are using an earpiece, you are getting virtually no exposure.''
Despite his criticisms of the report, Thun says continued research on cell
phones and health effects is crucial. "The issue is important," he says. But,
he adds, ''this report presents a one-sided view of the evidence. Going
forward, it is important that people who are concerned know they can limit
their exposure by using an earpiece. It's also important that surveillance be
continued and that evidence be reviewed in its entirely in a process that is
able to look critically at the evidence."