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The Cellular Industry's Ongoing PR Problem


The above Google search result summarizes the ongoing PR problem for cellphone industry. Yes, there is no proof that cellphones cause cancer or any other pathology and your blogger has no better information or even strong feelings. But the PR strategy taken by the industry, apparently driven by the goal of minimizing liability in any future litigation is that since cellphones meet all present government standards there is nothing to worry about. Trust the government and trust the cellular industry. A CTIA website says:

Leading health organizations, such as the National Cancer Institute, the World Health Organization, the American Cancer Society, and government agencies including the Federal Communications Commission and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration agree that the weight of the scientific evidence has not linked the use of wireless phones with any health problems, including cancer. However, it is also generally agreed that more definitive research should be conducted in areas such as children's use and long-term use.

The same website, which is rather hard to find, goes on to say:

What can I do to reduce my exposure to RF?

It is important to remember every cell phone in the United States must comply with the FCC's safety standards, and that there are no known risks from being exposed to RF emissions from cell phones. Still, if you want to take steps to further lower your exposure, you can use an earpiece or a headset. You may also use the device's speaker function, keep your wireless device away from your body when it's on, or limit the amount of time you hold the cell phone next to your head. Some marketers offer shields they claim protect a user from RF energy. Since there are no known risks from being exposed to RF energy emitted by a cell phone, there's no reason to believe such shields reduce risks. In fact, the Federal Trade Commission has successfully prosecuted shield manufacturers for false and misleading claims.(emphasis added)

Thus while trying to tell you how to reduce exposure, they get sidetracked on telling you it doesn’t matter and watch out for scam artists who sell ineffective “shields”. Yes, “shields” are ineffective because they really don’t work and function mainly to produce income for their promoters - not because there is not necessarily a valid reason to reduce exposure.

Perhaps readers are bored of me comparing CTIA’s position with that of its French counterpart, AFOM. So here is another viewpoint, this time from the Swiss government’s Federal Office of Public Health:


Doesn’t this make more sense that the present CTIA website or the FCC’s information (which was mysteriously changed without any public explanation last year to delete the suggestion that lower SAR might decrease exposure)?

When the new WHO report on cancer was released, I noticed a commentator on NBC’s Today show, the most popular morning show in USA, say that you have to put this in perspective: clearly more people get killed in cellphone-related car crashes than cancer. With that in mind, the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service recently updated its report Text and Multimedia Messaging: Emerging Issues for Congress:

According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, approximately 16% of fatal automobile crashes and 80% of all crashes in 2008 were caused by distracted driving. While reading and composing text messages while driving is only one of numerous factors that can lead to distracted driving, such activity is a growing concern among safety and regulatory groups. In response to this concern, there have been various actions taken at the federal and state levels.

Note that this “action” does not include recent federal legislation as CTIA has effectively derailed all bills on this topic in both the current and previous Congress. Bravo!

Finally, could things get even worse for the industry’s lawyer-driven PR strategy?
Note that this is not from some “tree hugging” environmental group or antitechnology group, but is the most popular story today on an advertiser-supported wireless “techie” website RF Globalnet.

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