In the year 2000, a Maryland doctor, Chris Newman, filed an $800 million lawsuit against Motorola and Verizon. He claims using his cellular phone caused his brain cancer. That striking story, and other recent events, suggest that the rules are changing in the cellular world. Will public pressure force cell phone makers to do something about their phone’s radiation?
Ironically, the cell phone radiations issue has started exactly the same way: According to Newsweek, in 1993, a man alleged that his wife had died of brain cancer from cell-phone use. He then sued the manufacturer but the case was dismissed.
But since then, many other newsstories have been published on cell phone risks and manufacturers are probably starting to sense the public’s worries, since we now see initiatives coming from the industry. At the beginning of July, shortly after the World Health Organization (WHO) called for more cell phone studies, the Cellular Telecommunications Industry Association (CTIA) announced that phone makers would be starting to include radiation level information on their products, thus potentially allowing us to select a phone depending on its radiation level.
It’s an important step, compared to their traditional attitude, which has always been to say: “There is no proof that cell phones involve a health risk.” No proof… yes, but does that mean there are no risks? Certainly not! There might be risks but we can’t prove it yet, and that’s all their “reassuring” statements say.
What we really need is more studies… and stronger studies. There have been some but their scientific method is criticized. The stronger the upcoming studies, the more useful they will be. It’s a very open field for researchers cause there are many things we need to know: do the phones harm us?; What about the base stations?; Are protective devices efficient?; Is this less damageable to wear your phone at your belt and use a headset?
In my opinion, we will soon see tens of initiatives burgeoning among the industry itself. As concerns about health risks raise and news stories continue to pile up, phone makers and network operators will have to do something else than just say “There is no proof” if they want to meet their exponential growth forecasts… It is said that worldwide cell phone users will skyrocket from 450 million in 1999 to 1.2 billion by 2003!
Such a market should motivate them to find workable solutions quickly if they don’t want their potential customers to change their mind… before they boil it.
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