April 2001

In the March Update, we discussed two recent studies that failed to demonstrate any genotoxic effects in cells exposed to RF radiation at cellular phone frequency. Another study, by Maes and colleagues, has now been published and has similar findings. In this study human blood cells were exposed to 900MHz radiation. In some experiments, the cells were also exposed to either mitomycin C (a chemical that produces mutations in cells) or to X-rays. There was no indication of a genotoxic effect from the RF radiation, either with or without the added exposures of x-rays or mitomycin C.

Reference: Maes A, Collier M, Verschaeve L. Cytogenetic effects of 900 MHz (GSM) microwaves on human lymphocytes. Bioelectromagnetics 2001;22:91-96.

Theoretical biohazards of RF radiation evaluated

In a recent paper in Bioelectromagnetics, Pickard and Moros discuss the prospects of ultra high frequency (UHF, 300 - 3000MHz) irradiation producing a nonthermal bioeffect. The authors, from the University of Washington in St. Louis, Missouri, use a theoretical framework, and conclude "that the rate of energy deposition from a typical field and within a typical tissue is so small as to make unlikely any significant nonthermal biological effect".

Reference: Pickard WF, Moros EG. Energy deposition processes in biological tissue: Nonthermal biohazards seem unlikely in the ultra-high frequency range. Bioelectromagnetics 2001;22:97-105.

More on Hardell study
In the December 2000 update we discussed a Lancet paper by Rothman, in which he reviewed epidemiological evidence of health risks of cell phones. In the Lancet of March 24 Drs. Hardell and Mild attempt to answer concerns that Rothman expressed about their study. Dr Rothman replies, reiterating his view that "their finding of an absence of any overall increase in risk coupled with a doubtful result about laterality leaves room for much scepticism about a causal interpretation."

Reference: Hardell L, Mild KH. Cellular telephones and risk of brain tumours. Lancet 2001;357:960-1. Reply: Rothman KJ.

Absence of symptoms from phone use

There have been occasional reports of people experiencing a variety of symptoms when using a cell phone. You can read more about this in the November 2000 "What's New" and in the report on Wireless Telecommunications and Your Health, which is found in the "Health" section of this web site. However, previous reports have relied on anecdotal evidence. Now Koivisto and colleagues from the University of Turku in Finland have carried out experiments to test whether exposure to RF radiation at 902 MHz for 30-60 minutes is associated with symptoms. Their experiments did not reveal any difference between exposure and non-exposure conditions for symptoms such as headache, dizziness, fatigue, itching or tingling of the skin, redness on the skin, and sensations of warmth on the skin.

Reference: Koivisto M, Haarala C, Krause CM, Revonsuo A, et al. GSM phone signal does not produce subjective symptoms. Bioelectromagnetics 2001;22:212-215.

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