The Honourable Professor Devra Davis is an award-winning scientist, author of over 200 scientific publications, scientific advisor to US and international organisations and founder of the Environmental Health Trust.
She was a member of a team of scientists awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2007.
In November 2015, Dr Davis visited Australia, presenting public lectures in Sydney and Melbourne. The following summary is from her 18 November talk at the University of NSW: ‘The truth about mobile phone and wireless radiation: what we know, what we need to find out, and what you can do now’.
There are almost seven billion mobile phones in use, all of them tested on standards that are almost 20 years old. These standards are based on the amount of radiation absorbed by a 220 lb (99.8 kg) male who only talks on his phone for a six minute period. That doesn’t represent the exposure that most people, especially young children, would be receiving.
But is this radiation safe?
Mobile phone radiation is highly problematic for membranes of the cell and 3G mobile phone radiation is more toxic than radiation from 2G phones. One of the reasons for this is that the radiated signal from a mobile phone is not a continuous but pulsed. Other aspects of the signal that can contribute to its effects on cells include its frequency, amplitude, pulse, the wavelength and the information it carries. However, not all studies have considered these aspects of a signal and that helps explain why they have not always found effects.
A particular concern is the use of mobile phones and other wireless devices by young children. (For example, there are potties with ipads.) Computer modelling shows that mobile phone radiation penetrates almost all the way through the head of a three-year-old, much further than it does in an adult’s head, and it’s absorbed by the foetus.
“Computer modelling shows that mobile phone radiation penetrates almost all the way through the head of a three-year-old’
Yet research has shown that mobile phone radiation is potentially harmful to children and foetuses. Studies have shown that exposure caused brain damage in newborn rats, damaged DNA, affected memory and performance in newborn rats, was linked with memory problems in adolescents who were heavy mobile phone users and reduced the viability of human sperm (potentially contributing to infertility). In a study in which mobile phone radiation prevented normal development of brains and behaviour, the author advised pregnant women in his care not to expose the foetus to microwave radiation.
In 2011 the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) classified mobile phone radiation as a ‘possible’ carcinogen. When the announcement was made, IARC Director, Christopher Wild, advised people to reduce their exposure to this radiation. In light of the evidence that has emerged since that classification, it’s now more likely that mobile phone radiation is a ‘probable’ carcinogen.
Does mobile phone radiation cause brain cancer in adults? Brain tumours take a long time to develop. Studies on survivors of the Hiroshima atomic bomb explosions found no increase in brain tumours in the general population till 40 years had passed. Yet already studies are showing increased rates of brain tumours in people who have been using mobile phones for just 10 years.
Some countries are already taking action to address the risks of mobile phone radiation. France has banned the advertising of mobile phones to children. Canada has described mobile phone use as a ‘serious public health issue’. And the US City of Berkeley has introduced right-to-know legislation to educate the public that manufacturers advise holding phones away from the body.
The secondary insurance industry doesn’t provide cover for health effects of mobile phone use. Mobile phone manufacturers have admitted the potential for risk and for litigation and provide advice for reducing exposure – although this is often hard to find. The iPhone warning to reduce exposure to the radiation they emit can be found at: settings—general—about—legal—RF exposure. Telstra texts customers with a link to information on its website about how to reduce exposure.
Professor Davis’s lecture in Sydney can be seen at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EwS-aHB-zHk&feature=youtu.be#sthash.1d7nSAUD.dpuf and her presentation in Melbourne at: http://www.eng.unimelb.edu.au/engage/events/lectures/davis-2015
About The Author - Lyn McLean is a consumer advocate, author and educator and has been monitoring and writing on the subject of electromagnetic radiation (EMR) for over 20 years. She is the director of EMR Australia.