There is no evidence to support the belief that low-level electromagnetic field exposure from electronics, mobile phones and wireless networks are detrimental to health, including the risk of cancer. This is the conclusion of a 200 page study carried out by the Norwegian Institute of Public Health.
A July 2011 study reported these same findings, suggesting that the link between cancer and mobile phone use is not significant.
A Norwegian Expert Committee has recently set out to determine the health risks of exposure to low-level electromagnetic fields, produced by radio transmitters, which can be found around:
- mobile phones
- wireless phones and networks
- mobile phone base stations
- broadcasting transmitters
Radiofrequency fields (RF) are the low-level electromagnetic fields which are produced when mobile phones or wireless devices of any kind use their antennas to transfer radio signals.
Health authorities say that electromagnetic fields around transmitters in mobile phones, as well as other electronic devices, should be subject to the same threshold limits as those established by the ICNIRP (International Commission on Non-ionising Radiation Protection). The threshold limits are based on “on fields above a certain power that can cause harmful heating of tissue.” According to ICNIRP, no other adverse health effects below this threshold limit level have been reported.
The report claims that the threshold limit values are not harmful, because they are 50% lower than the level needed to cause stimulation of nerve cells or heating of human tissues. However, the public is concerned about these threshold limit values, therefore, the Expert Committee has been looking into whether these levels could cause negative health problems.
The Committee, which is headed by Professor Jan Alexander, Assistant Director-General at the Institute, was developed by The Norwegian Institute of Public Health.
The researchers have found zero health-concerning risks associated with mobile phones or other electronics that generate transmitted signals. Previous research has stated that cell phones may negatively affect male fertility, or damage reproductive organs. Experts have also said that these signals can lead to changes in the endocrine and immune systems. However, the experts from the Committee cannot find any evidence to support these findings.
Head and neck cancers have been the focus of research concerning cell phone exposure leading to cancer, but the Committee, once again, did not find any scientific evidence to support that cell phones and other electronics could lead to cancer.
Tumors that grow slowly have been studied in individuals who have used cell phones for 20 years, however, there is no link between these studies.
There are only small amounts of data regarding different types of cancer in the neck and head and in lymphoma and leukemia, however, there is no evidence that supports any type of increased risk due to cell phone usage. Since cell phones have been invented, there has been no increase in these tumors. Alexander explained:
“We have no grounds to say that the symptoms are imaginary. But a large number of studies suggest that these symptoms must have other causes than the physical effects of low-level electromagnetic fields around mobile phones, wireless transmitters and other wireless equipment. Research provides no evidence to support that interventions help, such as reducing the use of mobile phones or wireless networks.
Our opinion is that patients with these health problems must be taken seriously by the health service and should be treated as other patients. There is a need for greater expertise in the health service and should be treated as other patients. There is a need for greater expertise in the health service for this group of patients.”
According to the authors, “The skin warms up slightly due to heat from the battery and not from the radio transmitter in the phone. The electromagnetic field will have very little or no heating effect. The body will remove the heat through normal blood flow, in the same way as the body otherwise regulates temperature.”
Certain mobile phones work by transmitting their signals at high powered levels, producing exposure that is near to the threshold limit values. However, this is not significant, even when heat due to electromagnetic fields is present.
Health risks from exposure to the fields have not been confirmed or proven, therefore, the experts believe that “general caution” is adequate – meaning that no person should be exposed to the electromagnetic fields any more than to just achieve the purpose at hand.
The power of the electromagnetic fields differs according to the type of equipment being used. Wireless Internet networks have the lowest power. Base stations and broadcasting transmitters are also low in power, while mobile phones are high.
The experts advise using hand-free kits, in order to minimize exposure. They note that field strength is not as strong when there is good coverage.
The Committee has analyzed the previous studies conducted by other international groups of experts, and recent studies from other professionals. They say that there has been a substantial amount of research done on this particular subject, carried out by analyzing cells and tissues in laboratories, and also humans and animals. Population studies and cancer registry studies have been performed in various countries, as well.
The experts note that over time, high exposure, i.e., electromagnetic field exposure for decades, may result in different outcomes.
To date, scientists have not been able to study this area. They say that in the future, cancer registries would benefit from continuing to monitor cancer development and carry on researching. This could determine whether exposure over a long period is dangerous for health outcomes.
This study, in particular, has helped researchers to reasonably conclude that devices which produce low exposure, i.e., mobile phones, broadcasting transmitters and wireless networks, are not detrimental to human health.
Written by Christine Kearney