EMF Dangers

The World Health Organization discusses the issue of EMF:

Are there any health effects?

A large number of studies have been performed over the last two decades to assess whether mobile phones pose a potential health risk. To date, no adverse health effects have been established as being caused by mobile phone use.

Short-term effects

Tissue heating is the principal mechanism of interaction between radiofrequency energy and the human body. At the frequencies used by mobile phones, most of the energy is absorbed by the skin and other superficial tissues, resulting in negligible temperature rise in the brain or any other organs of the body.

A number of studies have investigated the effects of radio frequency fields on brain electrical activity, cognitive function, sleep, heart rate and blood pressure in volunteers. To date, research does not suggest any consistent evidence of adverse health effects from exposure to radio frequency fields at levels below those that cause tissue heating. Further, research has not been able to provide support for a causal relationship between exposure to electromagnetic fields and self-reported symptoms, or “electromagnetic hypersensitivity”.

Long-term effects

Epidemiological research examining potential long-term risks from radio frequency exposure has mostly looked for an association between brain tumours and mobile phone use. However, because many cancers are not detectable until many years after the interactions that led to the tumor, and since mobile phones were not widely used until the early 1990s, epidemiological studies at present can only assess those cancers that become evident within shorter time periods. However, results of animal studies consistently show no increased cancer risk for long-term exposure to radio frequency fields.

Several large multinational epidemiological studies have been completed or are ongoing, including case-control studies and prospective cohort studies examining a number of health endpoints in adults. The largest retrospective case-control study to date on adults, Interphone, coordinated by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), was designed to determine whether there are links between use of mobile phones and head and neck cancers in adults.

The international pooled analysis of data gathered from 13 participating countries found no increased risk of glioma or meningioma with mobile phone use of more than 10 years. There are some indications of an increased risk of glioma for those who reported the highest 10% of cumulative hours of cell phone use, although there was no consistent trend of increasing risk with greater duration of use. The researchers concluded that biases and errors limit the strength of these conclusions and prevent a causal interpretation.

Based largely on these data, IARC has classified radiofrequency electromagnetic fields as possibly carcinogenic to humans (Group 2B), a category used when a causal association is considered credible, but when chance, bias or confounding cannot be ruled out with reasonable confidence.

While an increased risk of brain tumors is not established, the increasing use of mobile phones and the lack of data for mobile phone use over time periods longer than 15 years warrant further research of mobile phone use and brain cancer risk. In particular, with the recent popularity of mobile phone use among younger people, and therefore a potentially longer lifetime of exposure, WHO has promoted further research on this group. Several studies investigating potential health effects in children and adolescents are underway.

About The World Health Organization (WHO): The Executive Board is composed of 34 individuals technically qualified in the field of health, each one designated by a Member State elected to do so by the World Health Assembly. Member States are elected for three-year terms.

Key facts

Mobile phone use is ubiquitous with an estimated 6.9 billion subscriptions globally.
The electromagnetic fields produced by mobile phones are classified by the International Agency for Research on Cancer as possibly carcinogenic to humans.
Studies are ongoing to more fully assess potential long-term effects of mobile phone use.
WHO will conduct a formal risk assessment of all studied health outcomes from radio-frequency fields exposure by 2016.

Mobile or cellular phones are now an integral part of modern telecommunications. In many countries, over half the population use mobile phones and the market is growing rapidly. In 2014, there is an estimated 6.9 billion subscriptions globally. In some parts of the world, mobile phones are the most reliable or the only phones available.

Given the large number of mobile phone users, it is important to investigate, understand and monitor any potential public health impact.

Mobile phones communicate by transmitting radio waves through a network of fixed antennas called base stations. Radio-frequency waves are electromagnetic fields, and unlike ionizing radiation such as X-rays or gamma rays, can neither break chemical bonds nor cause ionization in the human body.