Historic cellphone recall due to excessive radiation

In the wake of the ‘Phonegate’ hearings in France, for the first time in history a cellphone has been recalled due to emitting potentially unsafe levels of radiation. ‘Phonegate’ was similar to ‘Dieselgate,’ except in this case, it was cellphones—not diesel cars—that were proven to have higher emissions than claimed by their manufacturers. European manufacturer Orange recalled its Hapi 30 cellphone following hearings in Paris in which Dr. Marc Arazi led a team of international experts examining data released by French agency National Frequencies Agency (ANFR). Dr. Arazi had petitioned ANFR for several years to get the data released, finally resorting to court action. Among international experts at the hearings was American epidemiologist Dr. Devra Davis.

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Cellphones aren’t quite so smart when you actually consider the health risks.

The Hapi 30 is “a rather basic flip phone model that the operator Orange sells under its own brand name and is manufactured by the French company Mobiwire,” according to an Alerte Phonegate media release. “In mid-March, Orange began to warn the affected users, that is, 0.3% of its customers, according to the operator, which would represent around 90,000 persons. By letter, they are being offered a free exchange of their cell phone against another model.” Tests conducted by ANFR revealed a specific absorption rate (SAR) that exceeds the authorized limit. The SAR is the measurement used to quantify the energy of radiofrequency radiation absorbed by the user of a cell phone. It is limited to 2 W/kg at the level of the head (“SAR head”) and at the level of body (“SAR trunk”). The Orange mobile phone Hapi 30 exceeds the limit at the level of the trunk (2.1 W/kg). Orange issued a statement that, “This mobile phone presents no health risk,” insisting that it meets emission standards “in situations of ordinary use, when the flap is open.”

However, the Orange mobile phone may only be the first such unit recalled. “We have recorded some other phones that exceed limits,” says Gilles Brégant, Director-General of ANFR. The agency is in the process of enforcing compliance with other manufacturers. Brégant promises to publish the name of the models at the conclusion of the procedure, which would take several months.

The European Union has legislation known as the RED directive (directive 2014/53/EU) that can impose fines on cellphone manufacturers that fail to meet mandated emissions standards. Sadly, in North America, neither Health Canada nor US regulatory agency the FDA has shown any such interest in protecting consumer health.

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Dr. Marc Arazi

Dr. Arazi, a physician and former French politician, has been campaigning tirelessly to get both French and European regulatory agencies to enforce and improve standards. Largely due to his efforts, stricter standards are being enacted. Dr. Arazi—like many international scientists—has pointed out that the current SAR-based testing regime is ineffective and a poor standard to base public health regulations upon. “A change in the method of measurement, which applies to smartphones and other cell phones placed on the market since April 2016, has led to the emission measurements of the trunk at a maximum distance of 0.5 cm from the body,” notes the Alerte Phonegate coalition. “Previously, manufacturers could make measurements at a distance of 2.5 cm. These few centimeters change everything: they were allowing manufacturers to display much lower values, and therefore to comply more easily with the standards.”

Further making history have been the discoveries of the $25 million 2017 US National Toxicology Program (NTP) study revealing increased heart tumours and brain damage in rats exposed to radiofrequency radiation emitted by cellphones. Although an attempt was made to soft pedal the results in the mainstream media, “the experts recommended that tumors in tissues surrounding nerves in the hearts of male rats, called malignant schwannomas, be reclassified from some evidence to clear evidence of carcinogenic activity… NTP researchers also looked for noncancerous health effects in rats and mice. The panel agreed that there were increases in damage to brain tissue in exposed male and female rats, which further supported the classifications of cancerous effects in the brain.” NTP Senior Scientist John Bucher “stressed that the goal of the study was to establish the potential health hazard of exposure to cell phone RFR. He said that to detect a potential effect, the rodents’ whole bodies were exposed to levels equal to and higher than the highest level permitted for local tissue exposure in cell phone emissions today.”

For a summary of the NTP study, visit the US National Institutes of Health website here: https://factor.niehs.nih.gov/2018/4/feature/feature-2-cell-phone/index.htm

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About seanarthurjoyce

I am a poet, journalist and author with a strong commitment to the environment and social justice. If anything, I have too many interests and too little time in a day to pursue them all. Film, poetry, literature, music, mythology, and history probably top the list. My musical interests lie firmly in rock and blues with a smattering of folk and world music. I consider myself lucky to have lived during the great flowering of modern rock music during its Golden Age in the late 1960s/early '70s. In poetry my major inspirations are Dylan Thomas, Rilke, Neruda and the early 20th century British/American poets: Auden, Eliot, Cummings. My preferred cinema includes the great French auteurs, Kirosawa, Orson Welles, and Film Noir. My preferred social causes are too numerous to mention but include banning GMOs, eliminating poverty (ha-ha), and a sane approach to forest conservation and resource extraction. Wish me—wish us all—luck on that one!
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