Sat Jul 02, 2011
MANILA, Philippines – The House committee on health is set to conduct an inquiry into the possible health risks of the use of mobile phones.
The investigation was prompted by House Resolution 1372 filed by Ang Kasangga sa Kaunlaran party-list Rep. Teodorico Haresco directing the panel “to conduct an inquiry, in aid of legislation, regarding the possible risk of over-exposure to cellular phone usage to the health of its users.”
“Most people nowadays rely almost exclusively on cell phones for daily communication. But can these ubiquitous gadgets possibly cause cancer if used excessively?” Haresco said. “We want clear answers, not busy signals.”
He pointed out the World Health Organization’s (WHO) International Agency for Research on Cancer had recently announced that cell phones could be a “possible” carcinogen, putting them in the same category as diesel fumes, dry cleaning fluid, talcum powder and coffee.
A team of 31 scientists from 14 countries made the findings after going through peer-reviewed studies on cell phone safety and found enough evidence to categorize personal exposure as “possibly carcinogenic to humans,” he said.
Haresco said in the light of these initial findings, the telecommunications and wireless industry should give the public some sort of warning that long-term exposure to radiation from cell phone usage could possibly cause cancer.
He said it is imperative to regulate children’s cell phone usage if it is proven that they are more susceptible to cancer.
Haresco said it is incumbent upon Congress to establish the regulatory framework for the telecommunications and wireless industry, taking into consideration the social and health costs.
The type of radiation that the cell phone emits is called “non-ionizing.”
It is not like the radiation coming from photocopying machines, but more like “a very low-powered microwave oven cooking the brain,” he said.
He cited the findings of Dr. Keith Black, chairman of neurology at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, that “in addition to leading to a development of cancer and tumors, there could be a whole host of other effects like cognitive memory function, since the memory temporal lobes are where we hold our cell phones.”
Black said the impact of radiation among the youth can be much larger because “children’s skulls and scalps are thinner and that radiation can penetrate deeper into their brains.”
The WHO, however, also recognized that, at present, no adverse health effects had been established, he said.
It is believed that most environmental and health risks take several decades of exposure before the adverse consequences are manifested or detected.
The European Environmental Agency is pushing for more research studies, saying cell phones could be as big a public health risk as smoking, asbestos and leaded gasoline, he said.
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