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11 April 2018

Health Effects of Mobile Telephony: First Withdrawals in France and International Wake-Up Call

Health Effects of Mobile Telephony: First Withdrawals in France and International Wake-Up Call
by Damien Coulomb, lequotidiendumedecin.fr, 10 April 2018 (translation)

The operator Orange decided to stop marketing the HAPI 30 phone and to recall the devices already sold because these exceed the regulatory limit of the specific absorption rate (SAR) “trunk”, as detected by the National Frequencies Agency (ANFR). Measurements were 0.1 W/kg above the regulatory limit of 2 W/kg, that is, a value of 2.1 W/kg on the back of the phone.

This recall is not an isolated case. Contacted by “le Quotidien”, ANFR confirmed that procedures were under way with regard to other non-compliant devices. The latter could soon be subject to fines or even criminal action or a request for withdrawal from the market. Since the transposition into French law of the European RED Directive in June 2017, ANFR can impose administrative sanctions in the event of devices exceeding the SAR, including administrative fines (€ 7,500 for a legal entity), requests for withdrawal from the market and recall of devices already purchased.

« Clear evidence of carcinogenicity » in rats

These decisions are taking place in an international context where the risks related to exposure to radiofrequencies emitted by mobile phones are increasingly questioned and even recognized. From March 26-28, a panel of experts analyzed the two technical reports of the U.S. National Toxicology Program (NTP) initiated by the NIEHS (National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences). These two studies showed an increase in the incidence of tumors at the level of nerve tissues in the area of the heart in male rats that were highly exposed to mobile phone radiation. “The results cannot be extrapolated to human usage,” commented Dr. John Bucher, one of the NTP coordinators.

A rather moderate position but contested by some stakeholders like Dr. Marc Arazi, president of the association “Alerte Phonegate” who participated in the public consultation of the NTP. As a result of this consultation, the experts requested that the NIEHS findings mention the existence of “clear evidence in favor of carcinogenicity” of the effect of GMS and CDMA electromagnetic radiation (CDMA being a coding system for transmissions rivaling GSM used in the United States) on the occurrence of malignant heart schwanommas in male rats (tumors histopathologically similar to acoustic neuromas or vestibular schwannomas observed in humans).

With regard to the risk of glioma of the brain and of pheochromocytoma in these same rats, the panel of experts concluded that there is “some evidence in favor” of a role played by electromagnetic radiation. Links with other cancer typologies (lymphomas, prostate tumors, hepatoblastomas, pituitary adenomas, carcinoma of the islets of Langerhans…) received an “equivocal” level of evidence.

« It is one more step in the direction of recognition of the carcinogenicity, » said Dr. Annie Sasco, physician and epidemiologist, former Chief of the Research Unit of Epidemiology for Cancer Prevention at the International Agency for Research on Cancer of the World Health Organization (IARC-WHO), who spoke during the three-day debate. The experts requested that these new findings be included in the revised version of the NTP report, before possible consideration by the U.S. FDA. “In general, the opinions of external experts are taken into account,” said Dr. Sasco.

Standards to be revised?

In 2011, IARC had classified electromagnetic radiation as “possibly carcinogenic” to humans, primarily on the basis of the risk of brain tumors. According to Dr. Sasco, “there were fewer epidemiological data available than today and the animal data were not yet convincing. I think it would be justified to ask for a revision of the classification but it will take time for that. An IARC evaluation constitutes 12 to 18 months’ of work.”

Dr. Arazi drew attention to the differences between European standards and their more severe American equivalents. “In the French standard, we have three metrics,” he explains. “The distance in millimeters between the emitter and the exposed tissue, the amount of human tissue exposed which is 10 g in Europe and I g in the United States and the duration, which is 6 minutes in France and 30 minutes in the United States.”

The result: a phone whose specific absorption rate (SAR) would be 7 W/kg in Paris, would have a SAR of 21 W/kg across the Atlantic in Washington. “In general terms, I think we should lower the current thresholds,” adds Dr. Sasco, “and raise the question of exposure levels of children where studies show that they are more sensitive than adults to the biological effects of electromagnetic radiation, including exposure to other wireless communication systems.”

Source : Lequotidiendumedecin.fr

Original article in French :

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