As I have written in my previous blog (published yesterday), IARC classification of mobile phone radiation as 2B category carcinogen – possibly carcinogenic to humans – is a big news.
So far, WHO evaluation of mobile phone carcinogenicity was based on the reviews by ICNIRP. Now, WHO’s own agency, IARC, has provided WHO with own evaluation that is not in line with earlier ICNIRP opinions.
The IARC classification has made headlines around the world (not in Finland though) and industry has responded immediately in the news media. Mobile Manufacturers Forum, an umbrella organization for producers of mobile phones has issued a press release (http://www.mmfai.org/public/docs/eng/MMF_PR_310511_IARC.pdf).
Careful reading of this document brings out puzzling information.
First, there is a quotation from IARC press release describing the outcome of the evaluation (bold text is mine):
…”IARC explained the results as follows:
The evidence was reviewed critically, and overall evaluated as being limited among users of wireless telephones for glioma and acoustic neuroma, and inadequate to draw conclusions for other types of cancers. The evidence from the occupational and environmental exposures mentioned above was similarly judged inadequate.”…
Then, there is a reassuring comment from MMF that we are safe because the safety limits protect us:
“…“In understanding the implications of this assessment, it should be remembered that wireless communications equipment are designed to operate within international and national exposure limits which already have substantial safety margins built into them,” Michael Milligan explained.”…
However, did MMF forget that the epidemiological evidence (for better or for worse) has been gathered in studies where study subjects used this, safety limits fulfilling, wireless communication equipment? Equipment that, we are being yet again assured, is safe because it complies with the current safety standards. Logic of MMF explanation escapes me…
And please, do not understand me wrong. I am not suggesting that, following IARC evaluation, the current safety limits should be automatically changed. Safety limits are what they are and they protect users from some effects of mobile phone radiation. Whether they protect us from all effects – we do not know and that is why IARC-evaluation-provided-stimulus-for-research should help to get an answer. We also know that there are some simple means to limit exposures for anyone concerned.
Instead of spinning things let’s do some sensible research and get better evidence for the next IARC evaluation… because it will happen, and rather sooner than later.