January 2002

European Commission reports on EM fields

The Scientific Committee on Toxicity, Ecotoxicity and the Environment (CSTEE) has updated a 1998 report on health effects of electromagnetic fields. The Committee concludes:

"The additional information which has become available on carcinogenic and other non-thermal effects of radiofrequency and microwave radiation frequencies in the last years does not justify a revision of exposure limits set by the Commission on the basis of the conclusions of the 1998 opinion of the Scientific Steering Committee. In particular, in humans, no evidence of carcinogenicity in either children or adults has resulted from epidemiological studies (the size of some of which was very large, although the period of observation was not long enough for a definitive statement). A relatively large series of laboratory studies has not provided evidence of genotoxicity."

The full report can be accessed at http://europa.eu.int/comm/health/ph/programmes/pollution/ph_fields_index.html

No increase in brain tumour incidence rates in USA

A recent paper reviewed trends in brain tumour rates in the USA. The authors used the most recent data from the National Cancer Institute's surveillance system. They found that central nervous system cancer (CNS) incidence rates have stabilized in all age groups since 1991. There was an increase in rates in some age groups in the mid-1980s that is considered to be due to better detection of tumours by new technology such as MRIs. The authors review the lack of evidence for an association between these tumours and cellular phone use. They conclude: " The possibility must be considered that environmental exposures and lifestyle characteristics contribute too little to the overall burden of CNS tumour development to be detectable by exposure assessment methods currently available".

This topic is discussed further in "Primer - Wireless Phones - Health".

Reference: Gurney JG, Kadan-Lottick N (2001): Brain and other central nervous system tumors: rates, trends, and epidemiology. Current Opinion in Oncology 13:160-166.

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