There Is No Health Risk From Cell Phones

A new study [PDF] by the British Health Protection Agency has confirmed what others, especially the massive Interphone project, has found: there is no health risk from cell phones.

The study has led one of Britain’s leading environmental activists to call for an end to cell phone health risk protests, saying that protesters are “chasing phantoms.”

The new study finds that:

  • Laboratory studies have detected “no convincing evidence that RF [radiofrequency] fields cause genetic damage or increase the likelihood of cells becoming malignant.”
  • Animal studies find no evidence that the levels of microwave radiation produced by cell phones “affect the initiation and development of cancer” and no consistent evidence that they harm the brain, the nervous system, hearing or fertility.
  • Studies on humans suggest no cognitive effects and no acute symptoms of any kind.
  • Evidence from epidemiological studies “does not suggest that use of cell phones causes brain tumours or any other type of cancer.”
  • Overall, the evidence “has not demonstrated any adverse health effects” in either adults or children.

Reacting to the new study, one of Britain’s most well known environmental campaigners and political activist, George Monbiot, has called for campaigning around cell phone safety, such as protests against towers, to ‘wind up.’

He does not want the science and gathering of evidence to end but points out that “there is no shortage of large, demonstrable and urgent hazards to the environment and public health … we cannot afford to squander precious time and energy chasing phantoms.”

For one thing, “there are real issues to do with the resources used to manufacture cellphones — eg columbite tantalite (coltan). If people want to campaign on phones, that, I think, is what they should concentrate on,” Monbiot wrote.

Monbiot believes that, as he has also argued about those who demonize vaccines, such campaigners might also have inflicted damage to the reputation of the environment movement.

“There’s a further issue, which should be of concern to those who hope to make a world a better place. By campaigning against what appears to be a non-existent threat, they have spread unnecessary fear and distress, subtracting from the sum of human happiness,” he says.

I would add that cell phones are of central importance to the development of ‘human happiness’ in the Global South. I know from Africa how, in a wide range of areas, cell phones have been central to organizing, democratizing information, tackling problems in practical ways and organizing people.

“The challenges brought about by bad governance, poverty, low bandwidth (all the negative things you associate with Africa) also provide an incredible opportunity,” says the co-founder of the amazing Ushahidi platform, Erik Hersman. “The developers who are coming up with solutions in the continent, the ones who are writing software or hacking hardware, are creating for some of the harshest environments and use-cases in the world. If it works in Africa, it will work anywhere.”

There are a number of ideas and technologies which have been developed in Africa — such as micro-payments by cell phone and tracking of disasters by cell phone — which started there and are only now being picked up in the ‘developed’ countries.

“We should ask ourselves whether this [cell phone health risk protesting] is the best possible use to which our time can be put. In other words, can we please stop wasting our lives doing battle with imaginary foes?” says Monbiot.

Related stories:

5 Ways Electronic Gadgets Are Ruining Your Brain

Father Creates App That Turns Off Teens’ Phones While Driving

The Blood In Our Cell Phones

Picture of cell phone showing the screen when you want to report an incident to Ushahidi, courtesy of Erik (HASH) Hersman


Jack Everett
Jack Everett5 years ago

Their is a sucker born every minute and nobody proves it more than Americans.

People that still support corporate propaganda studies and help destroy their own health deserve what they are asking for.

scarlett g.
.5 years ago

DOUBT this as factual!!!

scarlett g.
.5 years ago

DOUBT this as factual!!!

Meris M.
Meris M.5 years ago

It is irresponsible of Care2 to publish this article. Hundreds of independent studies have shown that cell phones are a risk to health. When will the world wake up to this reality? The article is a ruse by industry to convince the dumb populations of the world, addicted to this technology, that it is safe. It is not safe!

Faith Purdy
Faith Purdy5 years ago

i'm not sure about these test results, it seems biased and maybe a little too perfect to me, i think more studies need to be done.

Henrik E.
Henrik E.5 years ago

Professor Dariusz Leszczynski trashes the new Health Protection Agency mobile report as "biased" and "surreal" saying that it reads like a wish-list from someone who wants to claim there can't be any effects from mobile-phone radiation.

Prof. Leszczynski who has done extensive research into effects of mobile-phone radiation, says his and other researchers studies were omitted from the HPA report that claims to be "the most comprehensive review". Read Leszczynski's damning verdict in his Washington Post column:

The new HPA report does not even mention the 2011 WHO classification as "possibly carcinogenic" (possibly cancer-causing) and instead provides it's own biased assessment of the evidence on mobile-phones radiation and brain-cancer.

Another scientist has also called the HPA report into question due to finding that the report shows damage in 78% of studies on male fertility and mobile-phone radiation, but then bluntly dismisses it all as "not convincing". On top of that the HPA report omitted many studies on male fertility and when including those in the assessment, the evidence of damage becomes even clearer. More here:

Susan Oliver
Susan Cytko5 years ago

I am not sure I want to be the experiment for cell phones.

Jack Everett
Jack Everett5 years ago

If a politician said it it's a lie.

kevaquarian E.
kevaquarian E5 years ago

@ Henrik E: Many thanks for that!

Indeed, most of these "studies" that "conclude" or "prove" something of this nature have the same underbelly, once you look even slightly beneath the surface. This flavour of vested interests, insider involvement, "tweaking" of interpretations, glaring contradictions in the reports etc, is rife. Anyone who has not done so, I urge you to do some of your own research - just a few hours will suffice - you'll get a sniff of something quite grim... The smell of deception I think...

Diane L.
Diane L5 years ago

NO HEALTH RISKS FROM CELL PHONES? Maybe somebody should do a study about how much time Steve Jobs spent on them. Tell this to the person who got T-boned from somebody yapping on a cell phone or texting on one while driving?