French agency: No 'proven' health effects from radio frequencies

Oct. 17, 2013 at 12:02 AM
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PARIS, Oct. 17 (UPI) -- The French health agency reported this week its review of scientific studies has determined there are no "proven health effects" from radio frequencies.

The agency, ANSES, said Tuesday that after conducting "the widest possible review" of the international studies on the effects of quickly proliferating levels of radio frequencies from mobile phones and other devices, it could find no established links between them and human health.

Therefore, it said, it would not propose setting any new national maximum exposure levels.

However, ANSES noted with caution that the state of research on the subject is inadequate and poorly documented.

Some studies, it noted, have shown links to "different biological effects," while others have suggested a possible increased risk of brain tumors for heavy users of mobile phones.

Therefore, the agency recommended ways to limit the exposure for those considered most vulnerable to radio frequency exposure -- in particular from mobile phones -- such as children and intensive users.

It also advocated controlling the overall exposure from mobile phone relay antennas in areas of France where studies have shown exposure levels are "significantly higher" than others, which could be accomplished through "technical means."

The findings update a 2009 assessment on possible health and environmental threats from radio frequencies, which in recent years have been the topic of heated health, environmental and social concerns in France.

The explosion in the amount and intensity of radio signals from mobile phones and common household devices such as cordless telephones, tablet computers and baby monitors have led to concerns radio frequencies may be cancer-causing.

The World Health Organization's International Agency for Research on Cancer has indeed labeled them as "possibly carcinogenic" for heavy users of mobile phones.

But despite the "limited" findings of some studies linking biological effects such as disrupted sleep, male infertility or impaired cognitive performance to radio frequencies, the French agency said it was "unable to establish any causal link between the biological effects described in cell models, animals or humans, and any possible resulting health effects."

Instead, it recommended measures to curb exposure such as encouraging the use of hands-free mobile kits for all users, reducing the exposure of children by encouraging only moderate use of mobile phones and promoting measurement campaigns, in which devices emitting electromagnetic fields be rated and displayed.

Janine Le Calvez, president of the radio frequency health group Priartem Association, said while somewhat encouraged by the health agency's report, her group called on the government "to act quickly to protect people.

"This is all the more necessary because, for several months, the government seems focused on the non-rational development of 'all-digital' 4G for tablet computers in schools and through the widespread use of so-called 'smart' meters (to measure households' electricity consumption).

"This policy has resulted in a very significant increase in levels and exposure times, including for the most vulnerable populations."

Left unaddressed in the report is the plight of the "electro-hypersensitive," who exhibit severe symptoms such as heart and memory problems from radio frequency exposure, Sophie Pelletier, head of Electro Collective of France, told the daily 24 minutes.

"It's a bit like developing an allergy to the airwaves," she said. "The more you are exposed, the more your body isn't able to cope. In some cases, this can be very brutal. Within a week, your life can become a living hell. This is what happened to me."

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