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Experts urge more study of cellphone radiation, especially on kids

By Leslie Cauley, USA TODAY

More research is needed to determine whether cellphone radiation is harmful to humans, especially children, a panel of scientists and cancer researchers told a Senate appropriations subcommittee on Monday.

Scientists to date have not been able to establish a hard link between cellphone radiation and cancer. But that doesn’t mean that wireless devices aren’t harmful, Dariusz Leszczynski, a radiation expert at the University of Helsinki, told the subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services.

To say that cellphones are “safe is premature,” he said.
Recent studies have suggested that people who use cellphones for 10 years or more are most at risk, Siegal Sadetzki, director of the cancer and radiation epidemiology unit of the Gertner Institute in Israel, told the committee. Cellphones have become commonplace only in the past decade or so.

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One thing most panelists agreed on: Children, because of their thinner skulls, are far more susceptible to radiation than adults. Radiation is emitted each time a cellphone call is made.

Linda Erdreich, a senior managing scientist at Exponent, a global engineering and science consulting firm, disagreed. She appeared at the request of CTIA, the lobbying arm of the U.S. wireless industry. The group has long maintained that cellphone radiation has no impact on human health.
In her testimony, Erdreich said there is no scientific evidence to link cancer and cellphones. Under hard questioning by Sen. Arlen Specter, D-Pa., however, she declined to say that a link is impossible.

Wireless is a $4 trillion-a-year industry and growing rapidly. Currently, there are more than 4 billion wireless users worldwide. About 270 million are in the USA.

CTIA has consistently argued that radiation from cellphones has no impact on human health, and the group did so again Monday after the hearing. CTIA’s view is shared by the Federal Communications Commission, which sets cellphone radiation standards for the USA.

The problem: The FCC’s standards were set 17 years ago, when cellphones and usage patterns were much different, said Devra Lee Davis, a professor in the Department of Epidemiology of the Graduate School of Public Health, University of Pittsburgh.

The FCC’s standards are based on the effects of cellphone radiation on a “200-pound man with an 11-pound head” who talks for just six minutes a day, she told the committee.
Davis said more research is needed on long-term cellphone usage, with a special focus on children.

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