Wireless phones emit radio-frequency electromagnetic fields (RF-EMFs) when in use. In May 2011, after the consideration of laboratory studies, studies of long-term use of wireless phones, and data on the incidence of brain tumors, the World Health Organization (WHO) determined RF-EMFs to be a “possible” human carcinogen. Other studies have shown an association between long-term mobile and cordless phone use with glioma and acoustic neuroma. In October 2013, Powerwatch, a United Kingdom–based watchdog focused on the health risks posed by electromagnetic fields, reported that two new research articles provide further evidence of mobile phone use as a cause of increased brain tumors.
The first paper showed that RF-EMF exposure from mobile (and cordless) phones should be regarded as a class 1 human carcinogen (cancer-causing agent), as defined by the WHO’s cancer research arm. The studies’ authors concluded that current exposure guidelines are in urgent need of revision. (See Lennart Hardell and Michael Carlberg, “Using the Hill Viewpoints from 1965 for Evaluating Strengths of Evidence of the Risk for Brain Tumors Associated with Use of Mobile and Cordless Phones,” Rev. Environmental Health 28, no. 3 [November 2013]: 97–106.)
The second study aimed to assess the relationship between “especially long-term (>10 years) use of wireless phones” and the development of malignant brain tumors. According to the authors, this study “confirmed previous results” of the association between mobile phone use and malignant brain tumors, and supported the hypothesis that RF-EMFs “play a role both in the initiation and promotion stages of carcinogenesis”—in other words, the process by which normal cells are transformed into cancer cells.
Mobile phones are not the only wireless technology that poses health threats. As James F. Tracy reported, the US has seen a virtual media blackout on the radiation dangers of smart meters. In January 2014, Tracy reported that the WHO’s International Agency for Research on Cancer stated that “radio-frequency (RF) electromagnetic fields are possibly carcinogenic to humans based on an increased risk for glioma, a malignant type of brain cancer, associated with wireless cell phone use.”
Smart meters are a central element in the creation of a “smart grid” that President Obama has made a priority. In his article, Tracy wrote that the media blackout is likely intended to keep the public unaware of not only the health dangers associated with smart meters, but also potentially hidden agendas, including the meters’ potential for “social control” through “energy rationing and surveillance.” A “more immediate” motivation, he wrote, is “simply profit and continued media monopoly control of public opinion and discourse.”
Tracy reported on a content analysis of US newspapers between May 31, 2011, the date that the WHO declared RF a class 2B carcinogen, and June 2014. Of the 839 articles on the topic published in that time, less than 10 percent (eighty-two articles) mention both “smart meters” and “carcinogen” or “carcinogenic” in the same report. Of these, sixty-five articles appeared in Canadian, Australian, or UK papers. Meanwhile, corporate news coverage in the US reassured the public that the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) had found smart meters to be within its safety standards, that they impose no danger to one’s health, and that they are “environmental friendly”. “With potential continued revenue growth,” Tracy concluded, the telecommunications industry shows little interest in “raising questions and relaying information that can safeguard public health and allow citizens to ask intelligent questions concerning the health of themselves and their loved ones.”
“Two Important New Papers Show Mobile Phone Use Does Cause an Increase in Brain Tumours,” Powerwatch (UK), October 16, 2013, http://www.powerwatch.org.uk/news/20131016-hardell-carlberg-papers.asp.
James F. Tracy, “Health Impacts of RF Radiation: Media Blackout on Smart Meter Danger,” Global Research, January 21, 2014, http://www.globalresearch.ca/health-impacts-of-rf-radiation-us-media-blackout-on-smart-meter-dangers/5365598.
Note: For previous coverage by Project Censored of this topic, see both chapter 2 of Censored 2015: Inspiring We the People and “Wireless Technology a Looming Health Crisis,” in Censored 2014: Fearless Speech in Fateful Times.
Student Researchers: Julian Klein (San Francisco State University) and Casey Lewis (Sonoma State University)
Faculty Evaluators: Kenn Burrows (San Francisco State University) and Peter Phillips (Sonoma State University)