DON’T MISS: Dangerous Communication

By on July 25, 2017

Scientists discuss seminal research about cell phones and other health hazards.

JACKSON HOLE, WY – Dr. Devra Davis’s first grandchild was born in 2004 and by the time he was nine months old, he could grab a cell phone, turn it on and even start a game. At first, Davis was a proud grandparent and marveled at her clever grandson. But then the founder/president of the Environmental Health Trust realized there was a lot about cell phones she didn’t know, especially when it came to the impact on young brains.

In her 2007 book The Secret History of the War on Cancer, she titled the final chapter “Presumed Innocent” and raised questions about cell phone safety.

It was the only topic in her book she received pushback about. No one debated tobacco could kill you, or air pollution was bad for your health. “Because you had dead bodies and statistically significant evidence,” she said.

At the time Davis was a typical busy professional, carrying and using multiple cell phones.

Today, there is plenty of evidence, Davis said. She’s gone on to write several books on the topic, including Disconnect: The Truth About Cell Phone Radiation. Yet people still don’t understand the risk of cell phones when they are used directly on the body, instead of through car systems or on speaker phone. Cell phones emit radiation that can damage the brain when the phone is placed directly next to the head. The body also absorbs radiation from a phone when it’s in a pocket, or tucked in a bra, she said.

On Monday a panel of experts from the United States, Canada and France will discuss the latest research on cell phones and what people should know to keep themselves and their children safe.

The goal is to make folks aware of the growing body of experts, from organizations like the American Academy of Pediatrics to researchers and governments, that recognize the dangers of cell phones. “The solution isn’t to say ‘no’ to technology, but ‘yes’ to health and so we want our technology as safe as possible,” Davis said.

The Environmental Health Trust has hosted forums on the topic, but not for about five years.

Speakers include Anthony Miller, a doctor and professor emeritus at the Dalla Lana School of Public Health at the University of Toronto, who is also an advisor to the World Health Organization; Iris Udasin, a doctor and medical director of employee health at Rutgers University’s Environmental Health and Occupational Health Sciences Institute; Cindy Lee Russell, a surgeon at Palo Alto Medical Foundation and vice president of environmental health for the Santa Clara Medical Association; Annie Sasco, a doctor and team leader of epidemiology for cancer prevention at the Victor Segalen Bordeaux University in France; Frank Clegg, founder and CEO of Canadians for Safe Technology and former president of Microsoft Canada; and Marc Arazi, a French physician. Davis will also speak at the event.

The forum comes only weeks after the National Frequency Agency of France released research showing nine out of 10 cell phones exceed government radiation limits when researchers tested the way people actually use them—directly next to the body, Davis said. Manufacturers, however, don’t have to test phones directly on the body, like in pants pockets, she said. It’s a major finding in France and internationally and a topic panelists will discuss.

The forum is a way to update people on the latest science and research happening around the world. “Bring your most scientific questions,” said Theodora Scarato, director of educational resources with the Environmental Health Trust. But it also will be an introduction to those just now learning of cell phone radiation. “I actually find most people know nothing about this,” she said.

Scarato, a social worker and therapist, only learned about the dangers of cell phones a few years ago. She had no idea that phones weren’t pre-market checked for radiation exposure for kids. The more she learned, the more she realized the significance of the issue. “The science is very much raising a flag,” she said.

Cell phone companies are waging a battle similar to those of tobacco companies that didn’t want warning labels on packaging, or more research looking at long-term health effects, she said.

Scarato learned how people in other countries were more aware of the issue than people in the U.S. and how other countries already had policies in place.

She hopes the talk teaches people about the radiation issues and is a way for the experts to talk about what is next in terms of research and needed regulations.

“If to me, as a parent, if there is doubt something is safe and research is showing effects—that’s all I need to know because my children’s health means everything,” she said.

Expert discussion on cell phones, wireless radiation and health, sponsored by the Environmental Health Trust, 6 to 7:30 p.m. Monday, July 31 at Teton County Public Library, free. PJH

About Kelsey Dayton

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