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Cell-Phone Industry Launches New Health-Safety Research
Journalist: Steven Bonisteel
June 06, 2001

A year after agreeing to a health-safety research program under the auspices of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the cellular phone industry says it has signed up researchers for its first studies.

The Cellular Telecommunications Industry Association said Tuesday that it has signed contracts with three research institutions, which will take closer looks at issued raised by previous investigations of links between cell-phone use and cancers.

The FDA will oversee the project and CITA is footing the bill, which will be $1.5 million for what the industry association says is just the first phase of the new research.

The FDA and CITA said in June last year that third parties will conduct the research, starting with lab studies and testing of users focusing on whether radio frequency (RF) emissions from mobile phones pose any health risk.

Specifically, CITA said Tuesday, the researchers will look at the possibility that RF radiation can cause structural changes in the genetic material.

Other industry research has been inconclusive, but one study, conducted by Wireless Technology Research LLC - an industry-funded but independent lab - came up with enough data suggesting damage to genetic material of blood cells called lymphocytes was possible that the FDA said more studies were warranted.

The industry study also suggested that cellular telephone users might be at greater risk of acoustic neuroma, a benign tumor of the auditory nerve.

The CTIA said the new studies will be policed by the FDA, which also helped determine was kind of research should be undertaken.

The research institutions chose for the phase one studies were: Integrated Laboratory Systems, of Research Triangle Park, NC; the Interuniversity Center on Interaction Between Electromagnetic Fields and Biosystems, Naples and Rome, Italy; and the Fraunhofer Institute of Toxicology and Aerosol Research, Hannover, Germany.

The institutions will research the impact of cell-phone radiation and other sources that might lead to what researchers call micronucleus formation - believed to be an indicator of structural changes in genetic material.

The CTIA said the phase one studies could take up to two years to complete.

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