Electromagnetic fields and cancer: the cost of doing nothing

Rev Environ Health. Jan-Mar 2010;25(1):75-80. doi: 10.1515/reveh.2010.25.1.75.

Abstract

Everyone is exposed to electromagnetic fields (EMFs) from electricity (extremely low frequency, ELF), communication frequencies, and wireless devices (radiofrequency, RF). Concern of health hazards from EMFs has increased as the use of cell phones and other wireless devices has grown in all segments of society, especially among children. While there has been strong evidence for an association between leukemia and residential or occupational exposure to ELF EMFs for many years, the standards in existence are not sufficiently stringent to protect from an increased risk of cancer. For RF EMFs, standards are set at levels designed to avoid tissue heating, in spite of convincing evidence of adverse biological effects at intensities too low to cause significant heating. Recent studies demonstrate elevations in rates of brain cancer and acoustic neuroma only on the side of the head where individuals used their cell phone. Individuals who begin exposure at younger ages are more vulnerable. These data indicate that the existing standards for radiofrequency exposure are not adequate. While there are many unanswered questions, the cost of doing nothing will result in an increasing number of people, many of them young, developing cancer.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Electromagnetic Fields / adverse effects*
  • Environmental Exposure / adverse effects
  • Humans
  • Neoplasms, Radiation-Induced / epidemiology*
  • Neoplasms, Radiation-Induced / etiology
  • Occupational Exposure / adverse effects*
  • Risk Assessment
  • Risk Factors
  • United States / epidemiology