Are Wireless Phones Safe? A Review of the Issue

By Masley, Michele L; Habbick, Brian F et al. | Canadian Journal of Public Health, September/October 1999 | Go to article overview

Are Wireless Phones Safe? A Review of the Issue


Masley, Michele L, Habbick, Brian F, Spitzer, Walter O, Stuchly, Maria A, Canadian Journal of Public Health


A B S T R A C T

Most wireless phones and their corresponding base stations operate at a very low power output and in the radiofrequency range of 800 to 2000 Megahertz. Current international guidelines protect against thermal biological effects in terms of the local or whole-body specific absorption rate (SAR). Potential non-thermal bio-effects resulting from the use of wireless phones are not established and laboratory (i.e., in vitro, in vivo) studies have shown conflicting results. Epidemiological studies of potential human health effects are few but are expected to emerge in the near future. Challenges to epidemiological research include difficult exposure assessment, selection of appropriate controls, potential confounding bias, and validation of outcome. Scientists, community advocacy groups, and public health professionals must be equipped to critically analyze the emerging evidence within a benefit/risk assessment framework.

A B R E G E

La plupart des telephones sans fit ainsi que leurs supports fonctionnent avec de faibles puissance de sortie et a des frequences radio allant de 800 a2000 megahertz. Les lignes directrices internationales actuelles ont pour objet de proteger des effets biologiques thermiques du point de vue du taux specifique d'absorption localise ou total. Aucun effet biologique non thermique resultant do (usage de telephone sans fit n'a ete ctabli et les etudes en laboratoire (c.-a-d. in vitro, in vivo) ont donne des resultats contradictoires. 11 existe pour le moment peu d'etudes epidemiologiques sur les effets potentiels sur la same humaine mais it devrait y en avoir plus dans un avenir proche. Les difficult,s que posent les etudes epidemiologiques comprennent notamment celle d'evaluer (exposition, la selection des t6moins appropries, le potentiel de facteurs confondants et la validation des resultats. Les chercheurs scientifiques, les groupes de protection du consommateur et les professionnels de la same publique doivent etre en mesure d'analyser les donnees en pesant les avantages et les risques.

It is estimated there will be 200 million users of wireless estimated there worldwide 200 million 1999.' This technology wireless phones worldwide by improved communication, but has been improved communication, by concerns about possible accompanied effects. These concerns about possible health en because of these lingering concerns may have arisen because of the linger lines. Wireless controversy about however, employ frequencies ines. Wireless communicavastly different part of the electromagnetions, however, employ frequencies in a vastly different part of the electromagnetic

This paper reviews the basic biophysical aspects of wireless paper re technology, the basic biophysical relatively small body of research technology, the relatively some chall body of res in conducting date, and research on the challenges in conducting wiredemiological research on the safety of wire

WIRELESS TECHNOLOGY AND RADIOFREQUENCIES

The electromagnetic spectrum

The non-ionizing portion of the electromagnetic (EM) spectrum includes the extremely low frequency (ELF) band, the radiofrequency (RF) band which includes microwaves, and infrared and visible light (Figure 1). The ionizing portion consists of ultraviolet, gamma and x-rays, which have very short wavelengths, very high frequencies, and the potential to break chemical bonds in biological tissue, possibly causing biological effects that may or may not be adverse.

Industry Canada regulates the use of the electromagnetic spectrum in Canada.2 The frequency allocation for analog cellular telecommunication systems is between 800 and 900 Megahertz (MHz). Most digital Personal Communication Services (PCS) operate in the range of 1850-1990 MHz (1.85-1.99 Gigahertz, GHz). Recent wireless phone services via satellite are allotted the frequency band at about 2.2 GHz. Types of services can vary within and between countries. …

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