American Academy of Pediatrics Issues New Cell Phone Exposure Recommendations

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Public Health Watchdog Breaking News
Public Health Watchdog Breaking News

A recent U.S. National Toxicology Program (NTP) study found exposure to wireless radiation significantly increased the frequency of seriously malignant heart and brain cancers in laboratory animals, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) issued specific recommendations to minimize wireless cell phone exposure and also updated its online resources for parents regarding cell phones and wireless devices.

In the AAPs press release concerning the NTP Study Results, Jennifer A. Lowry, M.D., FAACT, FAAP, and chair of the AAP Council on Environmental Health Executive Committee said of cell phones and wireless devices that, “They’re not toys. They have radiation that is emitted from them and the more we can keep it off the body and use (the phone) in other ways, it will be safer.”

“The findings of brain tumors (gliomas) and malignant schwann cell tumors of the heart in the NTP study, as well as DNA damage in brain cells, present a major public health concern because these occurred in the same types of cells that have been reported to develop into tumors in epidemiological studies of adult cell phone users,” stated Ronald L. Melnick, PhD, National Institutes of Health (NIH) toxicologist who led the NTP study design and senior advisor to the Environmental Health Trust.

“For children the cancer risks may be greater than that for adults because of greater penetration and absorption of cell phone radiation in the brains of children and because the developing nervous system of children is more susceptible to tissue-damaging agents. Based on this new information, regulatory agencies need to make strong recommendations for consumers to take precautionary measures and avoid close contact with their cell phones, and especially limit or avoid use of cell phones by children,” Melnick noted.

The AAP also updated its Healthy Children Webpage on Cell Phones entitled Cell Phone Radiation & Children’s Health: What Parents Need to Know. The page restates children’s distinctive susceptibility to cell phone radiation: “Another problem is that the cell phone radiation test used by the FCC is based on the devices’ possible effect on large adults—not children. Children’s skulls are thinner and can absorb more radiation.” The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) regulates interstate and international communications via radio, television, wire, satellite, and cable.

The AAP issued cell phone safety tips meant to reduce wireless radiation exposure:

  • When possible, use text messaging or use cell phones in speaker mode or with the use of hands-free kits, as opposed to speaking with the phone. If you must speak on the phone, hold it at least one inch from your head and only make only short or essential calls on cell phones
  • Do not carry a cell phone against the body—in a pocket, sock, or bra. Cell phone manufacturers cannot guarantee that the amount of radiation you absorb when you carry a cell phone this way is being absorbed at a safe level.
  • Never talk on the cell phone or text when driving. This raises risks of automobile crashes. Use caution when using a cell phone or texting while walking or performing other activities; “distracted walking” injuries are increasing.
  • When planning to watch a movie on a device, download the movie first and turn the device on airplane mode while watching to minimize radiation exposure.
  • Watch cell phone signal strength. The weaker the cell signal, the harder the phone must work and the more radiation the phone remits. Wait until the phone has a stronger signal before using the device. Avoid making calls in cars, elevators, trains, and buses, as cell phones must work harder to obtain a signal through metal, which increases the power level.

“Even though the cell phone manual contains specific instructions that say do not carry the phone next to the body, the US government does not publicize this information nor mandate companies inform the public, leaving most people unaware of potential hazards, unwittingly allowing their young children to play with them like toys,” stated Devra Davis MPH, PhD, president of the Environmental Health Trust. This points to Berkeley Cell Phone Right To Know Ordinance being challenged in court this month.