Personal (cellular) telecommunications is a rapidly evolving technology that uses radiofrequency energy or radiation for mobile communication. As of December 2011, there were more than 331 million subscribers to cell phone service in the United States, according to the Cellular Telecommunications and Internet Association. Given this large number of users, if adverse health effects are shown to be associated with cell phone use, this could potentially be a widespread public health concern. The weight of the current scientific evidence has not conclusively linked cell phone use with any adverse health problems, but more research is needed.
What NIEHS is Doing on Cell Phones
The National Toxicology Program (NTP) headquartered at NIEHS is leading the largest laboratory rodent study to date on cell phone radio frequency. The NTP studies will help clarify any potential health hazards from exposure to cell phone radiation. The studies are designed to mimic human exposure and are based on the frequencies and modulations currently in use in the United States.
The NTP has worked closely with radiofrequency experts from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) to design highly specialized study facilities to specify and control sources of radiation and to measure their effects on rodents. The NTP studies are designed to look at effects in all parts of the body. Final study results are expected in 2014.
In addition to the NTP studies, the NIEHS is funding researchers at the University of California, Los Angeles , to study whether exposure to cell phones in childhood can affect the nervous system.
Listen to NTP Speak About Cell Phone Radiation
Dr. Michael Wyde
Segment 1: Background - Previous Studies
Segment 2: About the NTP Studies
Segment 3: Human Exposure
Segment 4: Leg Work
Segment 5: Results
Segment 6: Data Use
Segment 7: Recommendation
- International Agency for Research on Cancer 2011 Press Release
- JAMA Study Shows Cell Phone Usage Increases Brain Glucose Metabolism
- Cell Phone Radiofrequency Radiation Studies (772KB)
- NTP Associate Director's Statement (21KB)
- National Cancer Institute (NCI) Cell Phones and Cancer Risk Fact Sheet
- U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Consumer Update on Cell Phones
- FDA Resource on Radiation Emitting Products
- Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Q&A on Cell Phones
- World Health Organization (WHO) Fact Sheet on Mobile Phones