Saturday, January 14, 2012

WiFi in Schools


Critican a empresas telefónicas por intentar impugnar proyecto de antenas celulares

Critican a empresas telefónicas por intentar impugnar proyecto de antenas celulares
La senadora Soledad Alvear manifestó que “con esta actitud las compañías de telecomunicaciones sólo demuestran la nula voluntad que tienen en beneficio de la calidad de vida de miles de familias chilenas”.
La senadora Soledad Alvear manifestó su descontento ante la decisión de las empresas de telecomunicaciones de solicitar al Presidente Sebastián Piñera la impugnación de la aprobación del artículo 5 transitorio del proyecto de ley que regula la instalación de antenas celulares , indicación que fue presentada por la legisladora junto al apoyo de otros senadores.

"Con esta actitud, las compañías de telecomunicaciones sólo demuestran la  nula voluntad que tienen con los cientos de ciudadanos que hace años vienen pidiendo terminar con el abuso desmedido de las empresas instalando antenas alrededor de sus casas, y no vamos a permitir que las empresas no cumplan las normativas aprobadas", dijo la parlamentaria.

Agregó "desde hace años que hemos venido haciendo un trabajo serio en el Parlamento para sacar adelante esta iniciativa, y ahora que intentan echar abajo una normativa, pidiendo ser indemnizadas por instalar antenas cerca de consultorios, jardines infantiles y hogares de ancianos", y explicó que "ellos actuaron pasando a llevar a las familias instalando antenas por toda la ciudad y en poco tiempo porque se les venía encima esta regulación".

Asimismo, la senadora Alvear puntualizó que "si alguien debe ser indemnizado son los miles de chilenos que han visto como sus propiedades se desvalorizan porque se les instaló una, dos, tres o más antenas en frente de su casa. Las empresas se han equivocado. Nosotros vamos a defender hasta el final las reglas que propusimos y aprobamos. Esperemos que el gobierno no se preste para esta petición, porque aquí se juega la calidad de vida de familias, niños y abuelos".

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Laptop seizures at customs cause thorny legal dispute

Laptop seizures at customs cause thorny legal dispute

January 08, 2012
By Katie Johnston

House took his laptop to Mexico a little over a year ago, hoping to squeeze in some work between sightseeing, fishing, and laying on the beach. All went well, vacation- and work-wise, until the former MIT researcher landed in Chicago, where federal agents seized his laptop, kept it for nearly two months, and may have shared information on his hard drive with several government agencies.
They didn’t have a search warrant. They didn’t charge him with a crime. And there was nothing House could do about it.

House, 24, ran into what civil liberties advocates call the “Constitution-free zone’’ at US ports of entry, where courts have carved out broad exceptions to the Fourth Amendment’s protection against unreasonable searches and seizures. As long as they don’t use invasive techniques such as strip searches, government agents don’t need reasonable suspicion or probable cause to seize what they want - including laptops, a 2008 appeals court ruling held.

House’s case forms the basis of one of two lawsuits the American Civil Liberties Union has filed to stop the search and seizure of laptops at US borders without reasonable suspicion of wrongdoing and calls attention to a vulnerability that many people are unaware of when they travel in and out of the United States with important files on laptops, smartphones, and tablets.

A survey last month by the Association of Corporate Travel Executives found that nearly half of the participating companies did not know customs agents could inspect, copy, or even seize travelers’ laptops.

Robert Plotkin is a Burlington patent lawyer who sometimes travels overseas with documents and data related to his clients’ proprietary technology stored on his laptop. He said he was alarmed when he learned recently that the government could confiscate his computer without cause when he returned home.

“I have a legal obligation to maintain the confidentiality of that data for my clients,’’ he said. “If I were to cooperate with [a search], then I think my clients would have a claim against me for breaching client confidentiality.’’

The ACLU argues that the search and seizure of laptops is much more invasive than looking in someone’s luggage, since laptops often contain personal, private, or sensitive information. Several bills that would require suspicion of illegal activity to search laptops have been considered by Congress in recent years, but they have never passed.

Balancing civil rights and national security is tricky, said US Representative William Keating, a Quincy Democrat and member of the House Committee on Homeland Security. But he said the government should not be able to randomly take people’s electronic devices.

“If they’re going to seize something, there should be a reason,’’ Keating said.
The Customs and Border Protection agency says the power to seize laptops is necessary to find information about terrorists, drug smugglers, and other criminals trying to enter the country. Of the more than 340 million people who traveled across the US border in 2011, about 5,000 had laptops, cellphones, iPods, or cameras searched.

“It’s our responsibility to protect the border, to protect the nation,’’ said spokeswoman Joanne Ferreira.

Customs officers, Ferreira added, must comply with the Trade Secrets Act, which prohibits federal employees from disclosing confidential business information. Still, some businesses worry that files could fall into the wrong hands and order employees to wipe laptops clean of sensitive information before traveling overseas.
To keep important data safe, some companies have employees upload files to remote computers, or the cloud, and retrieve them later through the Internet. Others download data onto a flash drive or similar device that can be mailed to a traveler’s final destination. Still others create hidden drives on which to store the information.

Some companies are scrambling to update travel policies. IC Intracom, a computer components maker in Florida with offices in China and Taiwan, only recently learned of the risk to its proprietary data from the Association of Corporate Travel Executives. The company plans to establish new policies, possibly requiring employees to store sensitive information on servers instead of on laptops. That would prevent traveling employees from working in places without Internet connections.

But, said Maria Steen, who books travel at IC Intracom, the loss or potential disclosure of data “could be devastating.’’

House, who worked at MIT until last summer, had his laptop seized when he changed planes in Chicago on his way to Boston because federal agents wanted to learn more about his connections to Bradley Manning, the US Army private who leaked classified government information to the website WikiLeaks. House met Manning at a hackers’ workshop at Boston University in early 2010 and helped to found a support network to raise money for him after he was imprisoned.

The government kept House’s computer for 49 days, during which government agents had access to contact information for donors and House’s bank account passwords and family photos, as well as coding he had done in Mexico.

“A computer is like reading someone’s mind,’’ said House, who lives in Brighton and works as a computer security consultant.

The suit, which House acknowledges won’t be easily won, is pending in US District Court in Boston. House isn’t seeking damages, but he wants the government to return or destroy any copies it made of data on his computer and disclose which agencies were given access to it. If House prevails, the government could no longer search travelers’ laptops without a reasonable suspicion of illegal activity, according to the ACLU.

“Given the role of computers in modern society and the extent of the information that people carry with them on electronic devices, we have asked the court to acknowledge that the search of a computer should be treated as an invasive and overly intrusive search,’’ said John Reinstein, an ACLU lawyer representing House. “Under existing rules, you shouldn’t take anything across the border that you don’t want to expose to another set of eyes.’’

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

EMF Talk In Ireland: Part One

Europe's biggest' free wi-fi zone set for London The wi-fi service will begin its rollout in Westminster Continue reading the main story Related Stories Tube gets first wi-fi connection Central London to get free wi-fi

'Europe's biggest' free wi-fi zone set for London
The service will be rolled out across the boroughs of Westminster and Kensington and Chelsea in 2012.
It will be powered by a system installed on street furniture.

O2 said the deal, which will have no cost to the taxpayer, will enable visitors to "make the most of what London has to offer".

Councillor Philippa Roe, cabinet member for strategic finance at Westminster City Council, said:

"Westminster welcomes over a million tourists a day, is home to 250,000 residents, employs over half a million people and sees 4,000 business starts-ups each year.
"Visitors to London will easily be able to share their pictures and updates of the Olympic events across social networking sites."

O2 will begin installing the Metro wireless network across Westminster this month, initially being available in limited areas before being rolled out across both boroughs.
'High quality connectivity'
London is catching up with other major cities. In Paris, several hundred individual wi-fi zones offer free connections in public parks and municipal spaces.
New York also offers free wi-fi in parks and last year began to install wireless internet access at several of its subway stations.

London's service will be powered by equipment attached to lamp-posts and other existing structures on London's streets, and should be completed by March.
"This ground-breaking deal... will see us deliver high-quality connectivity across London in time for London 2012," said Derek McManus, chief operating officer for O2.

"Our longer-term aim is to expand our footprint of O2 wi-fi, which is open to everyone, and also intelligently enhance our services at street level, where people need the network the most."

John Hunt, from independent broadband review site, said the service would be very popular, particularly for overseas tourists worried about expensive mobile costs.

"Obviously, free wireless is a good thing. It allows people to get online cheaper," he told the BBC.
"Whether it will be able to handle the Olympics is going to be their main issue."

Underground trial
Mr Hunt added that London is becoming a well-connected city for residents and tourists desperate to be online while on the move.

"There are other networks as well, such as The Cloud and BT Openzone, and a lot more places like coffee shops are getting people online," he said.

However, he said residents living in the free wi-fi areas should not be considering ditching their home connection.

"The problem you will have is that the wireless may not be fast enough to support everything you want to do.
"I don't think it will necessarily replace home broadband - it's more a complementing service."

A spokeswoman for Transport for London told the BBC that it hopes to install the service in up to 120 stations on the network in time for the Olympics.

Another trial, sponsored by Finnish firm Nokia, involved 26 free wi-fi hotspots in locations across the city. The firm said it planned to make it a fully-fledged service in 2012.

Cancer Research Facility Deploys DNA-Breaking WiFi

Cancer Research Facility in Cambridge Deploys Ruckus Smart Wi-Fi

Ruckus ZoneFlex 802.11n Wireless LAN Covers Hutchinson/MRC Research Centre

LONDON, ENGLAND, November 17, 2008 – Ruckus Wireless™, a Wi-Fi technology pioneer in the wireless LAN (WLAN) market, today announced that the Hutchison/MRC Research Centre in Cambridge, a state of the art cancer research facility, has standardized on the Ruckus ZoneFlex™ 802.11n Smart Wireless LAN system which is capable of delivering three to four times the performance and reliability over conventional Wi-Fi technology – at a fraction of the cost.
The new wireless LAN (WLAN) provides complete coverage throughout the organization’s four-storey building. The deployment was carried out by Ruckus partner, internet connectivity and wireless security reseller, Net-Ctrl.
Hutchison/MRC Research Centre is based in a purpose-built building located on the same site as Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge. The building already had wired Ethernet but this was limited in its reach, and staff and visitors to the facility had also begun to request and expect Wi-Fi access. As a result, Hutchison’s IT department consulted with Net-Ctrl.
Following an initial site survey, Net-Ctrl advised Hutchison/MRC that it would actually be quite simple to install a WLAN that would cover the whole building, including all labs, computer rooms and meeting rooms. However, the main challenge was that the building is entirely made up of structural walls – so as to eliminate any vibrations which could have a detrimental effect on microscope work in the labs.
Given these considerations, Net-Ctrl recommended the Ruckus Wireless ZoneFlex system. Taking advantage of Ruckus’ Smart Wi-Fi and meshing technology, it represents the next generation of 802.11 innovation that combines technical advances in RF signal routing and adaptive antenna arrays with centralized WLAN management. The combination of these technologies provides Hutchison/MRC with a centrally-controlled Wi-Fi environment that delivers more reliable Wi-Fi signals that can automatically adapt to environmental changes and structural obstructions to support even the most delay-sensitive applications, all the while delivering consistent performance throughout the entire building.
In addition, the Ruckus ZoneFlex solution is able to provide reliable Wi-Fi coverage in Hutchison’s research cold rooms (where research samples are stored and analyzed) – areas that are traditionally difficult to reach with Wi-Fi signals and which had previously not been connected to the centre’s network due to the impossibility of running an Ethernet cabling connection to them.
“The Ruckus system really has exceeded our expectations,” said Neil McKnight, IT technician at Hutchison/MRC Research Centre. “We were initially after a wireless network that would provide our users with general day-to-day internet and server access – but, with the ZoneFlex system, researchers in our labs and cold rooms now have wireless access to the network and as a result can log their findings directly onto the central server. This greatly simplifies their tasks and increases productivity. Since we rolled out the solution in mid-September, we’ve had only the most positive feedback from our staff.”
Hutchison/MRC Research Centre purchased Ruckus 802.11n ZoneFlex access points (APs) and a ZoneDirector Smart WLAN controller. The decision to go with 802.11n rather than b/g will enable the research facility to easily support voice over Wi-Fi should they decide to deploy this in the future. The organization has been using VoIP wired phones since July.
“We come across many organizations like Hutchison/MRC Research Centre that just want a very basic level of Wi-Fi access, and it’s great business for us to be able to offer them a far superior package without exceeding their budgets,” said Mark Power, wireless security specialist at Net-Ctrl. “The Ruckus solution really does fill a market gap, as we’re now able to meet the needs of organizations like Hutchison and to provide reliable and robust coverage and a solution that is simple to install and use.”
“The deployment at Hutchison/MRC really underlines our key strength – being able to send Wi-Fi signals anywhere they’re needed,” said Jim Calderbank, director of enterprise sales EMEA at Ruckus Wireless. “Getting through structural walls and cold rooms is quite a feat, and the overwhelmingly positive staff response to the new system speaks volumes.”



Physically allergic to the electro-magnetic waves of wi-fi coming from mobile phones and high-tension wires, two "electro-hypersensitive" women find refuge deep inside a cave tucked in southeastern France. A dark tale of a very modern ailment.
Walking in wi-fi waves in Paris (Banalities)Walking in wi-fi waves in Paris (Banalities)

Here on the edges of the Vercors plateau range, in southeastern France, two women live tucked away in a cave high in the hills. Anne Cautain and Bernadette Touloumond say they are "electro-hypersensitive," physically allergic to electro-magnetic waves (EMWs).
By Doan Bui
On the hillside, a sign reading "Mobile Phones Prohibited" warns visitors to turn off their mobile devices. "I can’t take any sort of electro-magnetic waves, whatever they may be: wi-fi, mobile phones or high-tension wires," says Anne Cautain, 52. "It causes burning that is unbearable."
To gain access to the refuge outside the small town of Beaumugne, one must climb a ladder while clinging to a rope – a rather risky endeavor on a wet and slick winter day. It is here where Anne and Bernadette feel best. And yet, deep inside the cave, they are far away from actual fresh air. "Now, with so many antennas going up, we have a hard time even outside here," Cautain says. The inside of their cave quarters is dark and damp, with planks on the floor, allowing them to move around and keep their feet dry. On the ceiling of the would-be living room, plastic sheets keep the humidity out. The furnishings are basic: two beds, a table to drink tea, candles. There is no electricity.
"It began with the burns," says Cautain. "I could no longer stand being at work or in my apartment." A former employee at the University of Nice, Cautain is spending her third winter in the cave. She became allergic to the waves in January 2009 just after the installation of wi-fi at the university. From then, like "a hunted animal," she began to search for escapes from the modern world, looking for "white zones," devoid of all GSM antennas, high-tension wires and wi-fi boxes.
"I was sleeping in my car wrapped up in covers to stay alive. I found a parking lot in the suburbs of Nice, where I was more or less fine. But at night, I was afraid," she says. But soon, the parking lot wasn’t enough. The problem was the wi-fi boxes installed throughout the neighborhood, in addition to the proliferation of antennas.
My mother is not insane
So is electro-hypersensibility (EHS) a real syndrome or an imaginary illness? Cautain’s daughter Laure, 23, says : "People think my mother is crazy, but her symptoms are real. Are telecom companies so powerful as to make the law themselves?"
Electro-magnetic hypersensibility is no longer considered a crank illness in France, ever since Roselyne Bachelot, then health minister, sought in 2009 to "take into account the suffering of people hypersensitive to electro-magnetic fields."
Though a public study was launched, and the suffering of EHS is officially recognized, its causes are less clearly defined. A report by the National Agency for Health Security noted in 2009: "No scientific proof of causality exists between exposure to radio frequencies and electro-magnetic hypersensitivity."
The oncologist and founder of the Association for Anti-Cancer Research Therapy, Dr. Dominique Belpomme is leading the charge against skeptics of the condition. It was while returning from a consultation in Paris that Anne Cautain made a stop in Burgundy, to a cave explored by spelunkers. There, miraculously, she felt better. A gathering for EHS sufferers took place shortly thereafter in Beaumugne, where she went with her daughter.
Since Cautain set her sights on this rocky opening, she has not left, even quitting her job. "I had been on leave from my job for more than a year because of the illness," she says. "Doctors came to visit me in the cave and put me in the Invalid 2 category." Since then, she receives a monthly pension of 700 euros. "It is fine because we have very few needs. What I miss is not being out in the sun enough," she said.
The cave has become something of a sanctuary for people such as Anne and Bernadette, 66, so much so that they are rarely alone. Laurence came from Grenoble to pay them a visit. "I could no longer take the awful migraines," she said. "A few days here and I was able to sleep." She leaves for her apartment, which is covered with sheets of aluminum, a metal shield of sorts to protect from the waves. The town’s mayor hopes the two woman also find a more suitable place to live. But for now, the cave is the only refuge.
"I don’t say I enjoy the conditions of my life," sighs Cautain. "But I have no choice. Everywhere else, it is hell."
Read the original article in French
Photo - Banalities

Nature, Beauty, Gratitude

Dr. Sinatra

Doctors for Safe Schools

What is "Normal"?

What is "Normal"?

For young people of today, it is absolutely "Normal" for everyone to have wireless devices.

"After all, people used phones with cords attached to boxes back in the dark ages way before I was born."

What is also quite normal for young people of today is for people to have brain tumors, breast cancer, autism, ADHD, depression, bipolar disorder, epilepsy, Alzheimer`s Disease, Crohn`s Disease, asthma, all kinds of strange allergies, and strokes (starting in childhood). 

Just as no one thinks twice that having these phones might be in fact abnormal, no one thinks twice that not having these diseases might in fact be normal.



January 9, 2012.  In order to protect students against unnecessary microwave exposure, some parents and teachers have tried to prevent installation of Wi-Fi in their schools. Others have asked to have Wi-Fi replaced with wired internet access.  Here is a situation where a father, on behalf of his child, has taken legal action regarding Wi-Fi at a Portland Public School, in Portland Oregon.
Shawn E. Abrell is the Lead Counsel and Tyl W. Bakker is the Local Counsel for Plantiffs.
Below are links to expert testimony provided in this case on behalf of the Plantiffs. Expert testimony on behalf of the Defendant will be posted once it is available.
This is an important case as it could be precedent setting.
Click below for links to testimony.
1.  Dr. Andrew Goldsworthy:  Declaration.
2.  Barry Trower:  Amended DeclarationAddendum A.
3.  Curtis Bennett:  Second Amended Declaration.
4.  Dr. David Carpenter:  Amended Declaration.–civil-action-united-states-district-court-district-of-oregon-portland-division-civil-action-no-311-cv-00739-mo/

Monday, January 09, 2012

A Bad Connection: Cellphone Radiation & Health Risks

Special Investigative Report

A Bad Connection: Cellphone Radiation & Health Risks

No scientific proof exists to support claims that cellphone use causes brain cancer or any other health problems, but plenty of evidence indicates that the connection between cellphone-radiation emissions and health risks must be researched more thoroughly. Unfortunately, the federal government has been slow to act or recommend any safety guidelines.
Stuart Cobb, 36, was a prosperous plumber in Portland, Maine, until a brain tumor disabled him 2 years ago. Luckily, Cobb’s tumor was benign, and doctors successfully removed most of it.
Cobb had no significant exposure to toxic chemicals or radiation, which are two of the things that come to mind quickly when physicians diagnose the cause of tumors. However, Cobb was a frequent cellphone user, and the tumor grew on the side of his head where he typically held his phone.
“I’m almost 100 percent positive [the tumor] was from cellphone use,” Cobb says.
Unfortunately, Cobb might never know whether that’s the case. Although plenty of studies associate cellphones with brain tumors, the scientific jury remains undecided on whether cellphones cause cancer or any other adverse health effects, such as low sperm count or brain-chemistry changes.
Still, circumstantial evidence is mounting. This year, World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) classified cellphones’ radiation emissions as “possibly carcinogenic.” IARC’s declaration prompted three members of Congress in June to order Government Accountability Office (GAO) to study cellphone emissions. And states are starting to get more concerned about the health risks. Lawmakers in California, Maine, Oregon and Pennsylvania have considered bills that would require warning labels for cellphones. A handful of municipalities—including Los Angeles, Portland, Ore., and Santa Fe, N.M.—asked the federal government to conduct more studies and allow the cities to exercise control over where cellphone transmitting towers are placed due to concern about radiation exposure.
But federal authorities haven’t set any standards or issued any precautions. Food and Drug Administration is charged with monitoring whether Americans are at risk of health problems. (Americans have a total of 303 million cellphone accounts for business and personal use, according to industry trade group CTIA-The Wireless Association.) The balance of health studies indicates that cellphones don’t cause cancer or any other health problems, says Abiy Desta, who is a health scientist for FDA.
Federal Communications Commission also says cellphones pose no health threat. The only safety standard that FCC administers is to make sure that the radio-frequency electromagnetic-field (RF EMF) emissions that come from cellphones don’t literally burn the skin of cellphone users.

Know Your Limits: The Differences in Modulation

But three of the four ruling members of FCC hail from the telecommunications industry. And cellphone-safety advocates claim that the industry is worried intensely about potential liability and the loss of $160 billion per year in sales if cellphones are proven to cause cancer or if the federal government even hints that consumers should take precautions.
“The lawyers are running the show” at FCC, says epidemiologist Devra Davis, who is a former professor of public health at University of Pittsburgh and the author of Disconnect, which is about cellphones and health.
We interviewed 34 doctors, industry representatives, lawyers, scientists and cellphone-safety advocates and reviewed hundreds of pages of documents and studies to help consumers to sort out the latest health information about cellphones. We found that too many industry-sponsored groups are spinning the safety debate. And in light of all of the scientific uncertainty, we believe that consumers should exercise caution when they use a cellphone. We agree with National Academy of Sciences, which in 2008 called for more research into the safety of the technology.
Although no link has been made between cellphone use and cancer, it can take decades for cancer to develop in a person after he/she is exposed to a potential carcinogen. Cellphones have been around since 1983, but their usage has become commonplace only in the past decade. Five billion people now use cellphones worldwide, so if cellphones pose even a small cancer risk, it would constitute a significant public-health problem, says Michael Wyde, who is project manager for a cellphone health study that’s being conducted by National Institute of Environmental Health Science’s National Toxicology Program (NTP).
Other nations, which include Canada, England, Finland and France, urge consumers to minimize their exposure to cellphone radiation and require telecommunications businesses to pay for independent research to address health concerns. In contrast, the approach in the United States has been to see whether bodies pile up before officials urge any change at all.
INVISIBLE WAVES. The health concerns about cellphones revolve around their RF EMF emissions. All experts acknowledge that these fields penetrate into human tissue, just like microwaves penetrate into food. The question: How much RF EMF penetration is unhealthy?

What You Can Do

To protect cellphone users, FCC in 1996 adopted a Specific Absorption Rate (SAR) limit of 1.6 watts per kilogram (w/kg) of tissue. SAR measures the amount of energy that’s emitted by cellphones and is similar to the wattage rating for a light bulb. But SAR isn’t a measure of cumulative RF EMF exposure, which is what scientists believe might cause cancer. Cellphone manufacturers must have their phones tested by FCC-approved laboratories to certify that the devices emit less than 1.6 w/kg of energy.
FCC considers SAR to be a good guideline to prevent tissue burns, but it’s irrelevant to the larger issue of cancer and other health issues. Unfortunately, no standard exists for measuring cumulative exposure to RF EMF. FCC spokesperson David Fiske says other agencies, not FCC, should set such a health standard for cellphone use.
In cellphone manuals, most manufacturers tell consumers to keep the devices some distance from the head to reduce exposure to RF EMF. For instance, Motorola recommends keeping its Backflip model 1 inch from the head, and Samsung recommends keeping its Alias 2 model 0.59 inches from the head. Of course, you won’t know how far your phone is from your head unless you use a ruler and look in a mirror.
Still, FCC says this is better than trying to purchase a phone based on its SAR, which is why it doesn’t publish those ratings. According to FCC, cellphone-emissions exposure also is influenced by how much time that people spend talking on their cellphone and where they use it. That’s because the power level of a cellphone automatically adjusts to the strength of its connection. In enclosures, such as on a train, a signal can be weak, and a cellphone will power up and thus increase the user’s exposure to RF EMF.
A cellphone’s power level also depends on where you live, according to a 2010 study in Journal of Exposure Science and Environmental Epidemiology. Cellphones boost their power in rural areas, because cellphone towers that send and receive signals in rural areas often are more distant from users than are those that function in urban areas. Thus, rural consumers are exposed to more RF EMF while they use their cellphone.
Whatever the power level, children—because of their thin skulls—warrant special protection, says Jonathan Samet, who is a professor of medicine at University of Southern California and a member of IARC. He cautions parents “to make sure your child has the lowest exposure.” That means that parents should encourage text messaging instead of phone calls and limits on the duration of cellphone conversations, although Samet says nobody agrees on a specific time limit.

Your Bodyguard: Can Silver-Plated Garments Block RF EMF?

POSSIBLE CARCINOGEN. To date, health studies that are related to cellphone use have focused on how much individuals use their cellphone, where they hold it in relation to their head, and the shape, size and thickness of the individual’s skull. Researchers also have studied potential health effects through epidemiological studies that track health effects, such as incidences of brain cancer, in people.
So far, the largest epidemiological study is IARC’s 2010 Interphone study of 14,000 longtime cellphone users who are from 13 countries. The study compared the results with a group of people who didn’t use cellphones regularly. Those who talked on their phones at least 30 minutes per day experienced a 40 percent increase in the incidence of glioma, which is a tumor that occurs in brain tissue; and a 15 percent increase in meningioma, which occurs in the tissue that lines the brain. Moreover, the study found that the tumors in heavy users tended to be on the same side of the head as where the people customarily held their phone.
Interphone was criticized by a variety of scientists. They noted that its findings could be taken with limited confidence, because the daily cellphone usage of study participants was based on their personal estimations rather than on actual billing records. Still, IARC found the study persuasive enough to designate cellphone emissions as “possibly carcinogenic.”
The designation places cellphones in the middle of the agency’s classifications for cancer risk—below “probably carcinogenic” but above two other classifications that indicate an inadequate amount of evidence of carcinogens. (For comparison, IARC also considers diesel fuel and engine exhaust as “possibly carcinogenic.”)
Samet, who led the IARC panel of 31 scientists from 14 nations, wants to see more-rigorous research on cellphones. He also wants inquiries into how RF EMF emissions might lead DNA to mutate or cause other health problems, as he suspects based on the Interphone results.
INDUSTRY STATIC. While IARC awaits more research, the cellphone industry is busy spinning the science in the opposite direction.
John Boice, who is a scientist for International Epidemiology Institute, which has performed contract research for the telecommunications industry, believes that cellphone research has proven so inconclusive that it’s time to focus research money on other priorities. He cites a July study that was released in Europe that shows no association between cellphone use and brain cancer in children. (Critics point out that the study covered only 5 years of use, although the latency period for cancer runs at least a decade.)
Instead of further study, Boice suggests that researchers watch what happens to brain-cancer rates. National Cancer Institute (NCI) data show that the incidence of brain cancer has fallen 0.3 percent in the United States since 1987.
But Dr. David Carpenter, who is a public-health physician at University at Albany (N.Y.) and specializes in the study of RF EMF, cautions that because of the long latency period for brain cancer, it’s too soon to draw conclusions from NCI’s data. He predicts that cases of brain cancer will increase between 2020 and 2030.
Boice isn’t alone in his assertions. He and other scientists maintain that RF EMF doesn’t carry enough energy to damage DNA, unlike the radiation that’s emitted from radioactive materials, such as uranium.
Several scientists have found otherwise, including Henry Lai, who is a professor of bioengineering at University of Washington. Lai has conducted studies in which cells are exposed to cellphone signals and examined for DNA damage. His research dates to 1994, and the results show that there was DNA damage.
Lai tells Consumers Digest that a cellphone-industry-funded consortium that backed his studies in the 1990s—Wireless Technology Research—tried to fire him when it learned of the results of his studies.
The consortium’s director, George Carlo, denies to us that his group requested that Lai be fired. Instead, Carlo says, he asked the university to refund the money that it was paid for the research, because Lai violated the terms of the contract by failing to follow proper procedure.
Strong-arm tactics are common, according to cellphone-safety advocates. Jerry Phillips, who is a biochemistry professor at University of Colorado, conducted research for Motorola in the 1990s. He tells us that he found that RF EMF affects DNA. Motorola offered to fund additional research if he wouldn’t publish his results, he says, but he published his data anyway in 1997 in the journal Bioelectromagnetics. The company terminated his contract and hired another team that wound up disputing Phillips’ findings.
Motorola referred our calls seeking clarification to CTIA. CTIA general counsel Michael Altschul only confirms that his association funded a $25 million research program in the 1990s that Carlo led. Altschul characterizes the research controversies as disagreements among scientists.
“Our goal is to follow the science,” says K. Dane Snowden, who is the vice president of CTIA. “When FDA says there’s no evidence of cellphones causing brain cancer, we follow that. When FCC says cellphones are safe, we follow that.”
But as we noted above, three of the four ruling members of FCC are from the telecommunications industry. Despite Snowden’s assertions, we believe that the safety of cellphones remains suspect.
REGULATORY INACTION. Until it ordered the GAO study, Congress held just two hearings over the past decade—in 2008 and 2009—on cellphone safety, says Olga Naidenko, who is a scientist at Environmental Working Group. To date, no member of Congress has introduced legislation to direct any federal regulatory initiative.
We believe that that’s because money speaks. Telecommunications companies gave almost $9 million in federal campaign contributions in 2010, according to, which tracks corporate spending in politics. That year, the industry also spent more than $40 million lobbying in Washington. So it’s no surprise to us that when telecommunications companies call, Washington listens.
European Parliament displays more independence. In 2009, it adopted a report that called for nations to develop stricter regulatory standards to reduce the potentially harmful characteristics of RF EMF emissions. The report also advocated the development of education campaigns on how to cut radiation exposure from cellphones by talking less. In 2010, San Francisco Department of the Environment found that the average U.S. cellphone customer uses his/her phone 848 minutes per month, compared with 104 minutes per month in Germany and 249 minutes per month in France.
Maine is the only state that has come close to enacting any regulation. Cobb joined doctors and scientists in lobbying for a 2010 Maine State Legislature bill that sought to require cellphone labels that warned consumers about potential health risks. But the cellphone industry applied unusually heavy pressure, says bill author Andrea Boland, who is a Democratic representative. Lobbyists lined up at the door of the chamber and pressured senators as they entered for a vote, she says. Industry representatives threatened to sue the state if the bill passed, and the bill ultimately died in the Senate.
San Francisco is the only municipality that has adopted any ordinance. Scientists and health experts at the city’s Environment department helped the city’s board of supervisors to adopt a law in 2010 that requires cellphone marketers to warn consumers about potential health risks.
CTIA sued. In response, the board amended the ordinance last June to require marketers to give consumers guidelines on the safe usage of cellphones. A federal judge was expected to review the case this October. Snowden says it’s strictly up to the federal government—not states and local governments—to determine safety standards for cellphones.
Similar legislation in Oregon failed to make it out of a legislative committee this year. But many hope that in 2012, California will become the first state to enact a cellphone-labeling measure. The labels would warn consumers that if they hold cellphones directly against their bodies, they might be exposed to radiation levels that exceed FCC’s SAR limit. California State Sen. Mark Leno decided to hold the bill until 2012, when it became apparent that six Democratic senators accepted tens of thousands of dollars from the cellphone industry for their campaigns, according to, which tracks money in politics. Those six senators are enough to prevent a majority vote in California, where Republicans unanimously oppose almost any bill that seeks to regulate business. However, Leno believes that after lawmakers learn more about the IARC designation, which came late in the legislative season, they will change their minds in 2012.
For the record, the cellphone industry claims that the bill would violate the U.S. Constitution by compelling the industry to engage in false and misleading speech—that cellphones might be unsafe. We believe that this claim is absurd.
“The message from the industry is there should be no more discussion about this issue at all,” Leno says. “This is not a topic that’s going away.”
CLARITY AHEAD? As legislation stalls and scientific uncertainty continues, a few positive developments are taking place. Samet notes that research shows that cellphone emissions have been decreasing. (See “Know Your Limits: The Differences in Modulation.”) New models now operate at lower power levels because of modulation technologies that pack more information into their signals.
Furthermore, in 2014, the results of NTP’s study should provide some of the best data yet on the effects of cellphones. Beginning late this year, NTP will dose rats with cellphone RF EMF and examine their bodies for tumors, Wyde says. Scientists will examine whether any difference exists between the two frequency bands that are used for cellphones in the United States and the two predominant modulation systems for cellphones.
Unlike past studies that focused on brain cancer, NTP’s study will scrutinize whether cellphones affect other organs, such as the kidneys, liver or reproductive organs. Those risks never have been examined, even though people often keep their phones at waist level.
But more must be done. We would like to see an independent epidemiological study of whether heavy users of cellphones present any increased incidence of cancer or other health effects that’s based on the actual cellphone usage  records of study subjects, rather than the recollections of study subjects, as in the Interphone study.
These records now date back more than 10 years for large numbers of people. And the government should mandate that researchers have access to the phone-use records of any cellphone user who wants to take part in the study. We also would like to see the cellphone industry pay for such a study, as was done in Europe.
We also believe that FCC should run an information campaign (and, if it doesn’t have sufficient legal authority or the budget for such a campaign, FCC should seek it) to instruct consumers on the best ways to limit exposure to RF EMF. Federal Trade Commission also should develop guidelines for cellphone advertising that’s aimed at children under its children’s advertising program, which covers privacy and age-appropriate content access.
Finally, FCC, FDA and the cellphone industry should launch a cooperative program to design cellphone networks that decrease exposure to RF EMF and any of its harmful characteristics.
Because the scientific verdict on cellphones is unlikely to be rendered for years, these measures would help to eliminate unnecessary exposure and decrease potential health risks in the meantime. It’s better to be safe than sorry.
William J. Kelly has written about numerous energy and environmental topics for Consumers Digest and is a correspondent for California Current.