Adapted from the article by John Murawski March 28, 2018; Original article here.
Research Triangle Park, NC — Cellphone radio-frequency waves can be decisively linked to cancer in rats, according to a national science panel meeting in Research Triangle Park on Wednesday. The scientists’ finding establishes the clearest connection of cellphone risk to humans in a major U.S. study to date.
The scientists made their announcement at the end of a three-day meeting to review a $25 million rodent experiment conducted by the National Toxicology Program in RTP for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The draft of the study, issued in early February, had established a weak link in some cases and no link in others, but the scientific advisory panel on Wednesday said the data is more compelling and indicates greater risk than initially acknowledged.
Wednesday’s decision is expected to change the debate over cellphone safety as the telecommunications industry, with encouragement from the Federal Communications Commission, prepares to roll out the next-generation high-speed 5G wireless technology. Public health activists predict the science panel’s conclusions of wireless risks will increase pressure on federal agencies to issue safety warnings and tighten safety standards of the ubiquitous electronic device.
Ronald Melnick, the National Toxicology Program scientist who designed the study before he retired nine years ago:
"It should most likely lead to a reduction in exposure limits. This matters a lot because the agencies that will receive this data will make public health decisions based on this information."
Melnick said the health risks acknowledged Wednesday could compel public officials and telecom leaders "not to promote the use of some of these radio-frequency emitting devices for kids."
Just last month the draft report had been deemed inconclusive by the FDA and by the American Cancer Society, and the scientific panel was expected by the activists to rubber-stamp those conclusions in Wednesday’s meeting.
Before the scientists voted, Kevin Mottus, the outreach director of the California Brain Tumor Association, demanded from the floor that the entire panel recuse itself for lacking qualifications to assess radio-frequency data. Mottus later said that cellphones are comparable to asbestos and tobacco and should carry health warning labels.
But as the voting discussion got underway, the scientists began proposing motions to upgrade the level of the findings to state that prolonged radio-frequency exposure can be clearly linked to heart tissue cancer in male rats. The draft study had previously said there was some link but no clear evidence. The heart tissue cancers were particularly significant because they are a rare form of cancer that rarely occurs in rats and could not be explained as random illnesses.
National Toxicology Program senior scientist John Bucher said the heart tissue cancer that developed in male rats is the same type of cancer that has been seen in some people who have used cellphones at the highest power settings for years.
National Toxicology Program senior scientist John Bucher:
"The fact that this tumor type was the same really drew our eye to it . . . there were some of the strongest findings from a numerical standpoint."
The panelists also voted that the study shows some link between cellphone radiation and brain cancer in rats. The draft had said that link was equivocal, a scientific designation indicating it was inconclusive and arguably inconsequential. In addition to showing an increase in cancers in rats, the study also showed that newborn rats weighed less and suffered higher death rates when living in a radio-frequency radiation chamber.
US Government Response is Lacking
The FDA’s director of the office of science and engineering, Edward Margerrison, attended the meeting and warned afterwards against forming rash conclusions based on Wednesday’s votes. "We’re taking a responsible approach," he said. "We’re not gonna knee-jerk on anything." The FDA will translate the rodent findings to human health risks, and the Federal Communications Commission will decide whether the FDA conclusions are serious enough to warrant setting lower emissions standards for U.S. cellphones or taking other precautions.
Margerrison noted that the rat experiment exposed the animals to much higher levels of radio-frequency waves than a typical cellphone user experiences. But activists at the meeting said that the exposure over two years — the levels that the rats experienced — was comparable to a lifetime exposure for a human being.
The science panel’s decision is only advisory and would need to be adopted by the agency to become final, but Bucher said it’s unusual for an advisory panel’s recommendations to be rejected. Bucher was the lead scientist on the study, which was commissioned by the FDA in 1999 and carried out in underground chambers, where 3,000 rodents were bombarded with radio-frequency radiation for nine hours a day for two years.
The telecommunications industry has long insisted its products are safe for daily use. Jason Johnson, spokesman for CTIA, the telecom industry trade group, said Wednesday’s decision will need to be assessed, noting that the panel is not the last word on the contentious issue.
"The scientific community will consider the NTP draft reports in the context of the many other scientific studies conducted over several decades," he said by email. "The Federal Communications Commission, the Food and Drug Administration, the World Health Organization, the American Cancer Society and numerous other international and U.S. organizations and health experts have maintained their longstanding conclusion that the scientific evidence shows no known health risk due to the RF energy emitted by cellphones.
The science panel included pathologists and other industry scientists from Merck, Pfizer, Procter & Gamble, and GlaxoSmithKline, as well as academic experts in electrical engineering, pathology and other disciplines. The National Toxicology Program evaluates hazardous substances and conducts chemical safety testing to provide scientific information that is used to form U.S. public health policy.
How to Protect Yourself
Public health activists said that the public can take concrete steps to protect themselves from cellphone radiation exposure. They recommend using corded (not wireless) earbuds or headsets. They also recommend the following:
- Power off all antennas on all wireless devices (phones, tablets and laptops) and use hard-wired Ethernet connections to surf the Internet and especially to stream/view video
- Turn airplane mode ON (which turns off the Mobile data, call, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth antennas) and then turn Location Services OFF (to turn off the GPS antenna) whenever you are carrying the phone and especially when you are traveling in a car, train bus or plane
- Instead of waiting to receive calls/texts/emails in real-time, set yourself an alarm on your phone (once every x minutes) to remind yourself to check your communications: power on the antennas, respond to your calls/texts/emails and then power off the antennas, again
- Never Stream Video Wirelessly — instead wait until you get a wired connection at home to view your video entertainment
- Don’t carry the phone next to your body with the antennas powered on — not in your pocket, not in your bra and not on a clip on your belt (male reproductive organs and female breasts are particularly sensitive to RF microwave radiation exposures)
- When talking on a cell phone, hold the phone at arm’s length from your body (never hold the phone next to your head or rest it on your body) ,and use either the speakerphone or wired (not wireless) earbuds, when conversing.
The most important things communities can do to protect themselves from 24/7/365 exposures from Wireless Industry Infrastructure, the Close Proximity Microwave Radiation Antennas (CPMRA) the industry is attempting to install virtually everywhere are the following:
- DO NOT allow so-called "Small Cell" CPMRA installations on utlility and light poles in residential neighborhoods. Communities, such as Monterey (view MPC 03-15-18 6 pm, starting at 2:53:01), Hillsborough and Santa Rosa, CA are saying NO to these hazardous antennas that violate inalienable rights to privacy and safety .
- Work with your local City Council’s to revise your city’s Wireless Municipal code to restrict all Cellular and Public Wi-Fi infrastructure to only commercial and industrial zones and to ensure that Wireless signal strength DOES NOT exceed -75 dBm for any frequency, the level of RF microwave radiation needed for five bars on a cell phone
- Remove all Wi-Fi installations in public and private schools and libraries and revert to safe, reliable Ethernet connections for all classrooms and libraries — all Apple phones and tablets, all Microsoft phones and tablets and many Android phones and tablets can use USB-to-Ethernet adapters to connect to the Internet via wired Ethernet cables
- Encourage your city to incentivize Fiber to the Premises (FTTP), instead of Wireless everywhere (see below)
The Best Plan for Any City is Fiber to the Premises
FTTP would install fiber optic cables to every home and would provide uncapped data download speeds of 1,000 Mbps. Fiber is the most energy-efficient, reliable, secure, safe and democratic way to offer broadband service. With fiber, individual households can choose if they want to run wireless in their homes via Wi-Fi or not. Many residents choose to not run Wi-Fi and opt-out of PG&E’s so-called "Smart Meter "program, just as many choose not to smoke cigarettes in their homes and are barred from doing so at local restaurants.
Forcing 24/7/365 grossly under-regulated power levels of pulsed, data-modulated, Radiofrequency Microwave Radiation through one’s home from the curb is unconstitutional and undemocratic. Cities are degrading to be the land of no-choice: forced exposures to hazardous wireless signals everywhere. No City would dream of forcing second-hand cigarette-smoke into their residents’ homes 24/7/365. The issue of forced exposures to pulsed, data-modulated, Radiofrequency Microwave Radiation is identical in both lack of freedom and hazard.
In the words of Patrick Shannon: "Do the right thing, protect your residents and avoid our City from becoming the place where democracy goes to die and cell towers metastasize."