The relationship between mobile phones and health is the focus of many research programs currently underway throughout the world. Some of these initiatives are described below.
This project was launched because of concerns about possible health effects from exposure to EMF sources in everyday life. It is not in itself a research program, but is designed to facilitate a global approach to research. The project started in 1996. Funding is provided by contributions for WHO member states and non-governmental organizations approved by WHO.
The Project is to assess the health and environmental effects of exposure to static and time varying electric and magnetic fields in the range of 0 Hz to 300 GHz. This range includes static (0 Hz), extremely low frequency (ELF, >0-300Hz), intermediate frequencies (>300 Hz -10 MHz), and radio frequency fields (>10 MHz-300GHz) and includes EMF from power lines, transportation systems, telecommunications, radio and TV antennae, mobile phones, microwave ovens, radar, medical and industrial equipment.
The objectives are to:
Research Agenda was established in 1997, and has been updated
from time to time. The most recent update was in October 2005,
and was devised by an ad hoc committee of scientific experts.
High priority needs and other research needs were identified in
a number of areas - Epidemiology, Human and animal studies, Cellular
studies and mechanisms, and Social issues.
The Project Database attempts to be as comprehensive as possible and contains completed studies as well as recently initiated projects and follow-on work that is ongoing and not yet published. It is searchable on a variety of categories (e.g. frequency range and sub-range, study type and sub-type, funding agency, investigator name) and each entry includes a condensed summary description of a project from a given laboratory or group. As of September 14, 2007 , there were 1294 studies in the Database in the radiofrequency range.
The Citation List provides the complete reference and is searchable by a more limited number of categories (e.g. frequency range and sub-range, study type and sub-type, investigator name, reference key words, and date of publication). As of September 12, 2007, there are 3040 studies in the radiofrequency range.
The two databases are linked (forward and backward) so that identifying a project will immediately provide access to all relevant publications, and vice-versa.
Finally, a study chart function has been provided to view a specific study category(s) in terms of number of ongoing projects, projects reported but not published, and published studies. On september 14, 2007, there were303 ongoing projects listed, 116 reported but not published, and 2228 published. The categories are:
Each study chart entry is further linked to the Project Database and Citation List for additional information.
International Agency for Cancer Research (IARC)
This agency is part of the World Health Organization. Its mission is to coordinate and conduct research on the causes of cancer, the mechanisms of carcinogenesis, and to develop scientific strategies for cancer control.
IARC is coordinating a series of multi-national case-control studies (the Interphone study) to assess whether RF exposure from mobile phones is associated with cancer risk. Other potential environmental and endogenous risk factors are also being examined. The types of cancer studied are acoustic neuroma, glioma, meningioma, and tumours of the parotid gland.
Participating countries are Australia, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Israel, Italy, Japan, New Zealand, Norway, Sweden, and the UK. The study may also be extended to the USA. Results are expected in 2004. It is expected that the studies will include about 6,000 cases of gliomas and meningiomas, 1,000 cases of acoustic neuroma, 600 cases of parotid gland tumours, and close to 10,000 controls. It will be the largest epidemiological study to date and should help resolve some of the questions about an association between cell phones and cancer. Results from the study are being published in a series of papers.
European Commission supports an initiative called EMF-NET - "The
Effects of the Exposure to Electromagnetic Fields: From Science to
Public Health and Safer Workplace". It aims to provide a framework
for the coordination of the results of the research activities related
to the biological effects of electromagnetic fields, as well as potential
risks from EMF exposure in the workplace. There are 41 participants
in the project. As of May 2006, there were 240 research projects in
13 countries, with total funding of about $53M(US).
COST is not a funding agency, but coordinates research. There are a number of strategies within COST that are involved with telecommunication research. One of these, COST 281, deals with Potential Health Implications from Mobile Telecommunication Systems. There are 23 countries involved in this action.
The Australian Government has provided $4.5 million over four and a half years for the Radiofrequency Electromagnetic Energy Program, which will support research into and provide information to the public about health issues associated with mobile phones, mobile phone base stations and other communication devices and equipment.
The program has three elements:
information can be obtained at www.arpansa.gov.au/eme_pubs.htm
Finland has a national program that is coordinated by Professor J. Juutilainen of the University of Kuopio. Seven projects are being conducted in the areas of:
1997 the Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications established the
Committee of the study on human exposure to EMF. A number of studies
The Department of Health in the UK allocated $ 10 million (US) for the "Mobile Telecommunications and Health Research (MTHR) programme ", which was established in response to the report by the Independent Expert Group on Mobile Phones. Sir William Stewart, Chair of the Expert Group, was appointed chair of a Programme Management Committee. The current chair is Professor Lawrie Challis.
Research applications were to be submitted by March 30, 2001, in the following areas:
Eighty outlines of research studies were received and about 30% of these were invited to submit full proposals by June 28, 2001. Fifteen research awards, worth a total of 4.5 million pounds, were announced in January 2002. Since then adjunct funding has been received from government and industry. Research projects include:
More details can be found at www.mthr.org.uk .
In June 2000 the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) of the USA signed a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA) with the Cellular Telecommunications and Internet Association (CTIA). The FDA provides research recommendations and oversight and the CTIA provides funding. The initial work is planned to focus on two topics - genotoxicity and epidemiology. The research will be done over 3-5 years.
In June 2001, three contracts were signed with research institutions in the USA, Italy, and Germany to explore various aspects of micronucleus formation.
Further details can be seen at the FDA web site www.fda.gov/cellphones.