The GSMA understands that people are concerned about possible health risks from the use of mobile phones and living near wireless network antennas. We believe in the importance of providing clear answers based on established scientific research.
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There is no convincing scientific evidence that the radio signals from mobile phones or wireless networks can increase cancer in humans. It is the consensus of the expert groups
that the low powered radio signals produced by a mobile phone do not have sufficient intrinsic energy to affect genetic material. The safety recommendations of the WHO are designed to protect all persons against all established health risks. Some studies have suggested increased brain cancer risk for long-term users of mobile phones but there are limitations to the studies and a lack of evidence of cancer increase in national health registries. Due to these uncertainties, the WHO recommends that research should continue.
Independent scientific and public health institutions around the world review relevant research as it is published. The consensus of these expert groups
is that there is no demonstrable evidence of a risk to human health from radio signals that comply with the current international safety recommendations. The GSMA continues to support
high quality independent research guided by priorities recommended by the World Health Organization
and independent experts.
Sophisticated and sensitive research methods using well-tried models for assessing health risks from other agents have been applied to investigate the safety of mobile communications. The scientific process
follows a distinct path from hypothesis (idea) to established knowledge. Key steps include peer review and confirmation by other laboratories. The total body of science then contributes to the risk assessments by independent experts
such as the International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection
(ICNIRP) and the World Health Organisation (WHO).
There are a number of national and international standards bodies that have developed safety and compliance standards
for wireless devices and network antennas. These committees are usually composed of persons with expertise in key areas and representatives of major stakeholder groups. For specific information you should contact the telecommunications regulator in your country.
The majority of Western standards are quite similar in their basic approach to limit setting, in that by reviewing available research they determine the threshold dose for an established biological hazard and then incorporate safety factors to define the allowable level. The safety factors are intended to account for uncertainty in establishing the threshold level.
The standards applied in some former east European countries take a different approach to setting of allowable levels and in many cases appear substantially more conservative than western standards. However, the rationale for such standards is less well documented and with the political changes in Eastern Europe some of these countries have adopted Western guidelines.
In other countries, governments have accepted that the WHO recommendations provide protection against established health hazards yet they have concluded that additional protection against potential unknown effects should be provided by applying more restrictive limits. The WHO warns that these approaches may undermine public confidence in scientifically based recommendations.
The World Health Organization (WHO) International EMF Project encourages
international standards harmonisation.
The GSMA understands that people may be concerned by such claims, however, they are based on selective reviews of existing research and do not present a balanced analysis considering the relative scientific quality of different studies. Specifically, the Bioinitiative report was criticised for this by the Danish government Sundhedsstyrelsens (National Board of Health), the German Bundesamt für Strahlenschutz
(BfS - Federal Office for Radiation Protection), the IEEE Committee on Man and Radiation (COMAR)
and the Dutch Kennisplatform Elektromagnetische Velden
. In a specific review report the Health Council of the Netherlands
'In view of the way the BioInitiative report was compiled, the selective use of scientific data and the other shortcomings mentioned above, the Committee concludes that the BioInitiative report is not an objective and balanced reflection of the current state of scientific knowledge. Therefore, the report does not provide any grounds for revising the current views as to the risks of exposure to electromagnetic fields.'
There have been many independent scientific and public health authority reviews
and the consensus position, as summarised by the World Health Organization
, is that current international recommendations incorporate large safety factors and are protective of all persons.
This is an advocacy statement not a scientific review. Independent reviews
from more than 30 countries and the WHO have concluded that present international safety recommendations
are protective for all persons against all established health risks.
Several of the studies relied upon in the statement have been criticised for scientific weaknesses, for example, the Hardell studies were described by ICNIRP as '...particularly problematic...' due to the way the results have been reported. In other cases (for example, the studies of Lai and Salford) independent research groups
have failed to confirm the findings. INTERPHONE
began in 2000 and most of the included subjects have up to 10 years of mobile phone use. The published INTERPHONE studies
to date show no overall evidence of an increased risk for up to 10 years of use. The researchers recommend further study due to uncertainties related to small numbers of long-term users. The COSMOS study plans to follow the health of 250,000 European mobile phone users for 20-30 years.
The GSMA supports independent research
with safe guards to ensure scientific independence. It is our experience that claims of health risks are often based on small, poorly designed studies.
There is a large body of existing scientific research at frequencies above and below those for 3G services, and a growing body of science using these particular signals. Expert groups
have not established any signal or modulation specific effects, so the scientific consensus is that compliance with current safety standards
provides protection against all known health effects. In addition, 3G handsets continually adjust their power levels to the lowest level necessary to maintain adequate call quality.
This section provides answers to common questions about the networks of antennas needed to support mobile services. The WHO states that considering the very low exposure levels and research results collected to date, there is no convincing scientific evidence that the weak radio signals from base stations and wireless networks cause adverse health effects.