Cell Phones, the New
Journalist: Albert Roman
February 25, 2009
Barris, director of The People’s Initiative Foundation, a new non
profit organization, is on a mission to change the law and inform the
public about the devastating health effects from EMR (electromagnetic
radiation), which is emitted from cell phones and Wi-Fi.
Her most recent actions include a letter of request to Governor
Schwarzenegger, First Lady Maria Shriver, Department of Health Services
(CDHS), and Office of Environmental Health hazard Assessment (OEHHA) to
mandate that all wireless product packaging carry a warning label, as
well as the buildings, which carry the signals.
She has also submitted legislation on both the state and federal level
entitled The Children’s Wireless Protection Act calling for the warning
labels but also addressing Wi-Fi in schools and the need to replace
this infrastructure with hard wired cable or DSL.
“The ill health effects from the current wireless infrastructure
effects both the students and teachers who are forced to work in a
highly charged EMR environment. A hard wired cable or DSL environment
would give the same benefits of fast Internet access but without the
ill health effects,” she says. Ms. Barris has also been working on an
as of yet to be completed documentary film on the subject for the past
“It (warnings) should be on the packaging just like cigarettes so that
parents know that this product could potentially give their child a
brain tumor. Anyone who uses a cell phone should be informed of these
findings, but they’re not. The labels should also be on industry’s dime
rather than the taxpayers,” says Barris.
in the 1990’s, Dr. George Carlo, former lead epidemiologist of Cellular
Telecommunications Industry Association (CTIA), spearheaded a six-year,
$25 million study on cell phones and public health. In a clip from the
trailer of Barris’s documentary on the subject, Dr. Carlo asserts,
“There are over 300 statistically significant findings showing an
increased risk of tumors [from cell phone use]. There are about three
or four statistically significant findings showing no increased risk.
So it’s like 300 to four. Now how do you reconcile that with what you
see in the news media? We have never had an exposure like this before.
We’ve never had an exposure that’s dangerous that’s being sustained by
four billion people (cell phone users worldwide). We’ve never had it in
Carlo’s not alone. The recently published BioInitiative Report contains
a compilation of damning studies from around the world of top
oncologists, scientists, and public health experts attesting to the
harmful effects of EMR.
Included in this report are findings from Dr. Lennardt Hardell, a world
renowned leader in neurology from Sweden, who in 2006 authored an
article published in World Journal of Surgical Oncology, stating, “In
our series of studies on tumor risk associated with use of cellular or
cordless telephones the consistent finding for all studied phone types
was an increased risk for brain tumors, mainly acoustic neuroma and
malignant brain tumors.”
In a more recent study presented at the Radiation Research Trust
conference in London last year on EMR and health effects, Dr. Hardell
presented an unpublished study which found a 5-fold increase in
childhood brain tumors when the child begins to use the cell phone
before the age of 20.
The enormous and recent increase in use of cell phones by children is of particular concern.
In 2007, there was a 46 percent increase of cell phone use in children
between 8 and 12, according to Dr. Devra Davis, Healthy Child Advisory
Board member, and director of the Center for Environmental Oncology at
the University of Pittsburgh.
Carlo is also deeply concerned about cell phone use among children.
“When you start talking about a child 8- or 9-years-old beginning [cell
phone] use, by the time they are 18 or 19 years old, they will have
used the phone for 10 years. The projections that we do have indicate
that we are putting these children in unbelievable danger,” he says.
Dr. Carlo also believes that EMR contributes to autism and ADHD:
T, Carlo G. “Wireless Radiation in the Etiology and Treatment of
Autism: Clinical Observations and Mechanisms”, Australasian Journal of
Clinical Environmental Medicine 2007; 26(2): 3–7, 17.
Barris’ proposed legislation addresses wireless technology in schools.
“There is a great misconception that Wi-Fi in the public school system
helps learning. Wi-Fi disrupts learning. Wi-Fi causes ADD and ADHD in
children. Wi-Fi in schools means that these children and teachers are
sitting for eight hours a day in a field of electro magnetic radiation
with fields strong enough to carry the Internet.” says Barris.
Charles Graham, Ph.D., physiologist at the Midwest Research Institute
in Kansas City, Mo., has conducted studies indicating that
electromagnetic radiation alters hormone levels. When women were
exposed to elevated levels of EMR overnight in the laboratory serum
estrogen levels increased. Studies have shown that elevated estrogen
levels are a risk for cancer development. Graham C, Cook M, Gerkovich
M, Sastre A. “Examination of the melatonin hypothesis in women exposed
at night to EMR or bright light,” Environmental Health Perspective 2001
May; 109(5): 501–507.
“The ratio of female to male births is already being thrown [off] (in
favor of females), but will be much more extreme in the years to come
from putting our children in EMF all day long and exposing their young
and still developing bodies to this EMR. It is a problem we have never
in the history of evolution encountered. Also, EMR is genotoxic, so any
amount of exposure changes the cell and can compromise the immune
system,” says Barris.
In France there are ad campaigns regarding the ill health effects of
cell phones, and France has now even banned advertising cell phones to
children under 12. In addition, 11 other countries including the U.K.,
Japan, India, Israel, and Russia have issued either public health
warnings regarding children and cell phones or placed restrictions on
their sales to minors and advertising to minors. Why hasn’t the United
States followed suit?
Conflict of Interest?
considers it peculiar that the FDA delegated the responsibility of
creating safety standards for EMR to the Federal Communication
Commission (FCC), which regulates the telecommunications in the United
States and internationally, to set standards related to acceptable
levels of radio frequency (RF) exposure.
“There are two problems [with this]. The FCC is not a health
organization, and is therefore not qualified to make assessments
health. Second, the FCC resorted to allowing the telecom industry and
its paid industry scientists to set the current standards. Would you
trust the tobacco industry to tell you about the safety of their
product or would you prefer the U.S. Surgeon General to do it?” asks Barris.
Another conflict of interest could be the fact that frequency bandwidth
is auctioned off by the government to the telecom industry. Barris
doubts the FCC would compromise its financial interests by doing
anything to adversely affect the industry’s profits, thereby biting the
hand that feeds it.
Additionally, the Center for Public Integrity has found that FCC
officials are bribed by the telecom industry with such perks as
expensive trips to Las Vegas.
Even more interesting is that in the past few years it has been brought
to light that the telecom industry has been attempting to change the
acceptable Specific Absorption Rate (SAR) of EMR emitted from cell
phones tenfold from 1.6 watts per kilogram to 16 w/Kg. This would
enable wireless technology consumers to watch movies and television on
their cell phones. Barris believes that this is an example of industry
safety standards being based on protecting industry profits rather than
human health. “Have our bodies changed so much recently that we can now
absorb 10 times the amount of radiation? Or has something else changed?
Like the need to sell more product?” she asks.
It should also be noted that FCC’s acceptable standards of RF exposure
are based on the obsolete theory that the only risk from RF and
microwave exposure is excessive heating of tissue (thermal effects).
Dr. Carlo is also deeply concerned that the cell phone industry’s
history might be analogous to that of tobacco, of which he states, “The
power of the industry to influence governments and even conflicts of
interest within the public health community delayed action for more
than a generation, with consequent loss of life and enormous extra
health care costs to society.”
A constructed epidemic curve projection shows, according to Carlo, that
a massive increase in cases of brain and eye cancer attributable to
cell phone use will occur in the coming years. “Those numbers are
are not enough brain surgeons in the world to address [this issue].
This is a rabbit hole that, when you go down into it, it opens up into
a black hole. I’m continually shocked at what I find. It goes from
unconscionable to downright criminal,” said Barris.
What Does Industry Say?
The telecommunications industry claims that the scientific findings
reveal no link between cell phone use and harmful health effects and
that further testing is needed. Indeed, many of industry’s scientific
findings are inconclusive or find no causal relationship between RF and
EMR and negative health effects. “The industry considers studies
related to the adverse health effects on children and adults as a
public relations problem as opposed to an actual problem that needs to
be dealt with,” says Barris.
Barris expects a “tsunami” of both brain tumors and lawsuits in the
very near future. “The industry’s objective is to have more studies to
refute the studies which show ill-health effects from cell phones and
EMR,” she says, adding that this is the strategy designed to keep the
money rolling in for as long as possible and head off protective
What’s Being Done by the U.S. Government?
Dennis Kucinich of (D-Ohio) is chair of the subcommittee of the
Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, which held a hearing
regarding cell phones and cancer last September. Because of the
disparate findings and interpretation of findings by scientists,
concrete measures to warn people of the effects of cell phones have not
been made. Barris hopes that with the election of President Obama, and
his approach of “preventative measures” regarding health care, these
health and safety factors with cell phones and Wi-Fi will be addressed.
What’s the Solution?
scientific studies yielding different results, coupled with an
increasing usage and dependence on wireless technology, what should the
Dr. David Carpenter and Cindy Sage, co-authors of a portion of BioInitiative Report (bioinitiative.org),
suggest continued research is necessary, but we shouldn’t wait for the
results—precautions and substantive changes should be established now.
They recommend “wired alternatives to Wi-Fi be implemented,
particularly in schools and libraries so that children are not
subjected to elevated RF levels until more is understood about possible
Barris suggests that parents get active in having Wi-Fi removed from
schools. They can do so by calling or writing their school
representatives and public officials to express their concerns.
She has the following suggestions for parents whose children use cell phones:
• Invest in a landline and use it! Do not use
cordless phones. “It’s better to have the inconvenience of a landline
than the inconvenience of a brain tumor.”
• Limit cell phone use to emergencies only, including texting.
• Don’t let them sleep with their cell phones under their pillows at night so they can text their friends.
• Turn off all cell phones when not in use.
• Use a speakerphone whenever possible.
Start trying to break your own habit of using a cell phone by
setting a good example for your children, and tell them why you’re
• Use a headset, preferably the old
fashioned kind that wraps around the head, as opposed to sticking a
wire inside the ear if you do have to use your cell phone in an
• Get an “air tube headset”
online, as it is currently one of the better alternatives to sticking a
hard wired signal right inside your ear
• Last but not least, INVEST IN A LANDLINE!
Carpenter and Sage add, “For emissions from wireless devices [cell
phones, personal digital assistants (PDAs), and so on], there is enough
evidence for increased risk of brain tumors and acoustic neuromas now
to warrant intervention with respect to their use.
“Redesign of cell phones and PDAs could prevent direct head and eye
exposure, for example, by designing new units so that they work only
with a wired headset or on speakerphone mode,” says Carpenter and Sage.
“If industry is requesting further tests, then why don’t we have
warning labels in the meantime, erring on the side of caution rather
than ignorance?” asks Barris.