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U.S. To Oversee New Cell Phone Safety Studies

U.S. To Oversee New Cell Phone Safety Studies
Journalist: Lisa Richwine
June 9, 2000

U.S. health officials said on Thursday they would oversee new industry-funded studies to address lingering questions about whether radiation from cellular phones may be harmful to users.

The Food and Drug Administration said it would recommend the research design and review the progress of the studies, which were being funded by the Cellular Telecommunications Industry Association (CTIA).

Third-party researchers will conduct the studies, and the FDA will review the results. The research is expected to last three to five years.

The CTIA said studies so far show cell phones do not cause health problems. The FDA, which has authority over devices that emit radiation, said it does not have enough information to conclude whether cell phones pose any risk.

“Although research to date does not show that cellphones pose a significant health hazard, there is not enough information at this point to be absolutely certain that these products are without risk,” the FDA said in a statement.

Some studies “have raised questions that need further exploration,” the FDA said.

Some people have wondered whether long-term exposure to the low levels of radiation that cell phones emit could pose a safety risk. A debate began in 1993 when a Florida man alleged that cell phone use caused his wife’s brain tumor.

Research to date has not erased concerns, and industry groups had been seeking government oversight of future studies.

“The wireless industry is committed to consumer safety and to addressing concerns the public might have about wireless phones,” Tom Wheeler, CTIA’s president and chief executive, said in a statement.

The new research will include both laboratory studies and studies of cellular phone users, the FDA said, adding that it would convene meetings of international experts to help oversee the studies.

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