The most comprehensive assessment to date, the 10-year Interphone study published last month under the auspices of the World Health Organization, found contradictory results that even the study authors admitted were puzzling.
The multi-country study found that while the longest-term cell phone users had slightly elevated risks of brain cancers, lower-use people actually had fewer cancers, as though cell phones had inexplicably protected them from harm. New long-term studies are getting underway in Europe in an attempt to provide better, clearer answers.
“The science is not really settled,” said Naidenko. “What we are talking about is precautionary action at this moment.”
Cell phone makers must submit SAR levels for their products sold in the United States to the FCC, which regulates emissions of electronic devices. Phones cannot emit radiation in excess of 1.6 watts per kilogram averaged over a volume of one gram of tissue. This FCC threshold, adopted in 1996, is based on animal studies and human occupational exposure data, Naidenko said.
Not surprisingly, manufacturers tend not to include SARs on printed material that comes with phones, nor are SARs openly advertised. However, consumers can look up SAR levels on the FCC’s Web site.
But to do so, consumers need the phone’s FCC identification number. Because this number appears on a phone’s case often under a battery pack, it is not something that non-owners tend to have access to, Naidenko said.
By bringing such public, but buried information to light in one place on the EWG chart, Naidenko said that now “people don’t have to wonder about the radiation level of a phone before they buy it.”
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