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Report Stirs Debate on Cell Phone Safety

Environmental Working Group Warns of Health Risks; Other Experts Disagree

Second Opinion continued...

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."

''As yet the scientific evidence for harm isn't there," he says. "The evidence at this point does not suggest we need a sea change in the way we approach cell phones."

A prepared statement attributed to John Walls, vice president of public affairs for CTIA--The Wireless Association, the industry group for cellular phones, says in part: ''The peer-reviewed scientific evidence has overwhelmingly indicated that wireless devices do not pose a public health risk.''

CTIA points to the opinion of health organizations such as the American Cancer Society, which concur with its view.

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