News since we last updated our article:
- Issue of opinion by ANSES, “Exposure to mobile telephones carried close to the body”
- Announcement by French Government on limiting exposure to the radiation of cell phones and better informing the public
- Meeting with the French Ministry of Economy and Finance
- Request by the Environmental Health Trust and Phonegate Alert for Congressional hearings on illegal cell phone radiation
- New study suggesting that exposure to radiofrequency radiation is associated with an increase in DNA damage
- Confirmation of the Court of Appeal of Turin of the link between a head tumor and cell phone use
Time to Wake Up to the Global Public Health Issue of Phonegate
by Meris Michaels, Revised 16 January 2020
For over 20 years, cell phone users have been knowingly misled about their true levels of exposure to radiofrequency radiation RFR) under real conditions of use in contact with the body. Consumers have been doubly misled by not having been informed by the public authorities to keep the phone away from the body.
This issue concerns all of us and those we love. Most of us have cell phones. We hold them against our heads, keep them switched on in a pants or shirt pocket or tucked in a bra. Many of us are unaware that cell phone manufacturers are testing phones at a certain distance from the body, not in the ways that most of us use them, touching the body. These same manufacturers warn us to keep the phone at a distance from the body.
The authorities have been lax in implementing public health campaigns and recommendations to reduce RFR exposure, especially regarding children, pregnant women and medically sensitive populations who are more vulnerable to this radiation.
1.Measurements of exposure to cell phone radiation exceed regulatory thresholds, posing a risk to the health and safety of billions of users
For over 20 years, cell phone users have been misled about the true levels of exposure
Most of us are not aware or sufficiently informed that manufacturers are testing cell phones at a certain distance from the body, not in the ways that most of us use them. The international NGO, Phonegate Alert Association, now has proof that for over 20 years, manufacturers have been placing cell phones on the market under deceptive conditions. Both the manufacturers and regulators have not taken into account the real conditions of use in the calculation of the SAR (Specific Absorption Rate, the indicator used to measure the rate of radiofrequency energy absorbed by the body when using a wireless device). The SAR, expressed in watts per kilogram (W/kg), is set to protect cell phone users from overheating or thermal effects. It is well established that thermal effects can be harmful to health. Many cell phones placed on the market exceed the maximum SAR regulatory threshold. This health and industrial scandal is called “Phonegate”.
French national agency conducts SAR tests on cell phones in contact with the body
In July 2016, a scientific report was published by the French National Agency for Food, Environmental and Occupational Health and Safety (ANSES), entitled, “Exposure to Radiofrequencies and Child Health”. The ANSES Report highlighted the results of the French National Frequencies Agency (ANFR) 2015 measurement tests of 95 mobile phones tested in body contact positions – meaning, with no separation distance. ANSES announced that 9 out of 10 mobile phones tested in contact with the skin exceeded the regulatory threshold of 2 W/kg, some of them more than three times.
Upon discovery of this information, French physician Dr. Marc Arazi and now the Phonegate Alert Association, took legal action to get ANFR to make public, in June 2017 and March 2018, data concerning the SAR tests carried out in contact with the body on 454 cell phones. The tests revealed that 9 out of 10 cell phones checked in 2015 and 20% of phones tested in France in the first half of 2018 exceed the SAR trunk value. These results were kept secret from consumers. The test results of some phones were as high as more than 20 times the manufacturer’s previously reported SAR levels. Phonegate Alert is continuing its legal actions to obtain the publication of new data. 1
The phones tested by ANFR are among the most popular brands used by consumers.
Of 22 cell phone models, 18 have been withdrawn from the market or updated and 9 are the subject of class actions/criminal complaints in France
Due to the pressure of Phonegate’s action, since April 2018, 18 cell phone models have been withdrawn from the market or updated for exceeding the SAR threshold. Five mobile phones were withdrawn, including the Hapi 30 (affecting nearly 100,000 consumers in France), and 13 others updated. Recently, tests carried out on the Redmi Note 5 manufactured by the Chinese company Xiaomi, revealed that the SAR head exceeded the regulatory value. In April 2019, ANFR issued press releases stating that the Nokia 5 and Nokia 3 cell phones exceed the SAR trunk value. Their software has been updated by the manufacturer. On 16 July 2019, ANFR announced that the Nokia 6.1 (TA-1043) smartphone exceeded the SAR trunk value. HMD GLOBAL OY opted for an update of the phone.
In a press release published on 25 July 2019, ANFR announced the withdrawal of two new smartphones marketed by the Malaysian company LEAGOO INTELLIGENCE CO. and by the Romanian company S.C. VISUAL FAN SRL. The test controls of the SAR trunk of these phones carried out in August and October 2018 by an approved laboratory showed a SAR of 2.39 W/kg for the LEAGOO S8 phone and 4.6 W/kg for the ALLVIEW X4 SOUL MINI S phone. A ministerial decree of 12 July 2019, published in the “Journal officiel de la République française” on 20 July 2019, now prohibits the placing on the market and putting into service of these two phones. This is the first time such a procedure has been used.
ANFR had given notice to the two companies to take all necessary measures to put an end to the non-compliance of these devices. In the absence of a response from the companies, ANFR decided to proceed with the withdrawal and recall of these two phones from the market.
On 4 October 2019, ANFR announced the withdrawal from the market and the recall of the ECHO Horizon Lite phone following measures to control the SAR “trunk” which revealed that the authorized regulatory limit had been exceeded. ANFR also sanctioned the French distribution company MODELABS MOBILES, which markets this model, with an administrative fine of €7,500. The SAR “trunk” of the Echo Horizon Lite was measured at 2.38W/kg in May 2018 and at a higher level of 2.84 W/kg after ANFR requested the update of this phone.
Nine cell phone models are the subject of class actions/criminal complaints in France.
Since the transposition into French law of the European Radio Equipment Directive (RED) in June 2017 establishing a regulatory framework for placing radio equipment on the market, ANFR can impose administrative sanctions in the event of devices exceeding the SAR threshold including administrative fines (€7,500 for a legal entity), requests for withdrawal from the market and recall of devices already purchased.
*Subject of class action/criminal complaint
French national health agency ANSES issues opinion on “Exposure to mobile telephones carried close to the body”
On 21 October 2019, the French Agency for Food, Environmental and Occupational Health & Safety (ANSES), issued an opinion entitled, “Exposure to mobile telephones carried close to the body” recommending that: 2
- measures be taken to ensure users are no longer exposed to cell phone radiation levels that exceed regulatory limits
- consumers are educated about the manufacturers’ instructions for a separation distance
- compliance testing of emissions be updated so that cell phone radiation tests are performed in positions of body contact.
In addition, the ANSES opinion analyzed the biological and health effects already reported in previous ANSES expert appraisals (mainly in 2013 and 2016). The current expert appraisal points to biological effects, with limited evidence, in particular on brain activity associated with exposure above 2 W/kg.
The authors of the opinion extend their recommendations to other radiofrequency emitting devices, including toys and tablets.
French Government issues press release on limiting exposure to radiation of cell phones and better informing the public
In response to the ANSES opinion, the French ministries of Health, Ecology and Economy issued a joint press release on 25 October 2019 announcing: 3
- France will ask the European Commission to strengthen the requirements applicable to new mobile phones placed on the market. The Government will request that the certification tests be carried out in contact with the device (at 0 mm), and not at 5 mm as is currently the case
- ANFR will develop tools to inform consumers about the emissions of their phone and manufacturers’ recommended distance
- The Government will bring together the manufacturers to engage in a voluntary action to update the software of their models so they meet new emission test guidelines.
- The Government also reminds users of the its 6 recommended practices to adopt when using a mobile phone to reduce their exposure to RF radiation including use of a hands-free kit to keep the phone away from the head.
Phonegate Alert joins forces with other associations working to protect public health
The Director General of ANSES, Mr. Roger Genet, officially informed Phonegate Alert on 12 September 2019 of the integration of the association into the “Radiofrequencies & Health” dialogue committee of ANSES.
In October 2019, Phonegate Alert joined forces with a number of other French associations in order to establish a more effective counter-lobby, given the power of the industrial lobbies, the complicity of the public authorities and difficulties in the legal field. The associations are: Robin des Toits, Priartem, ASEF, France Nature environnement, SERA, ARTAC, Association Zone Blanche, CRIIREM, CLCV, CNAFAL, CNL.
On 8 November 2019, the French magazine, Marianne, published on its website an open letter to the French Ministers for Health, Ecology, and Economy, signed with six of the associations listed above, explaining the Phonegate issue and criticizing the French Government’s proposals with regard to testing of cell phones and protection of users’ health. 4
Meeting with the Ministry of Economy and Finance
On 7 January 2020, a meeting was held with representatives of the Ministry of Economy and Finance. In attendance were the President of Robin des toits, the Vice-President of Criirem (French Center for Independent Research and Information on Electromagnetic Radiation), and the president and treasurer of Phonegate Alert. Issues discussed included: the European Directive 2914/53/EU, surveillance of placing on the market of mobile phones and other connected devices, information for better protection of consumers and users, and 5G.
Proposals included: no longer allowing manufacturers to place their mobile phones on the market on the basis of their own internal testing; launch of an investigation by the French Directorate General for Competition, Consumer Affairs and Repression of Fraud into the deceptive practices of mobile phone manufacturers; review of the recommendation regarding hands-free kits; provision of visible warnings on mobile phones and on packaging concerning pregnant women and children.
250 cell phone models posing a risk to users’ health continue to be sold
The ANFR data reveal that 250 cell phone models exceed the regulatory limits and must be removed from the market. These phones continue to be sold not only in France and Europe but also in many other countries. It is time that the European and international authorities take action to protect the health of users. 5
Cell phone regulations outdated in all countries of the world
In all countries of the world, the cell phone regulations are outdated.
Manufacturers are not required to conduct cell phone tests in direct body positions. Most have been testing between 15-25 mm from the body. New European legislation went into effect in 2017, obliging manufacturers to test SAR extremities (hands, feet, wrists, ankles) at 0 mm. For the trunk (torso, legs, arms), phones may be tested a few millimeters from the skin. The public authorities are largely remiss in informing the population. The French State merely communicates the risk of holding a mobile phone against the ear by recommending the use of a hands-free kit “to limit exposure of the head to radio emissions during communications”. French legislation only requires manufacturers to make public the SAR head value at the point of sale as well as in advertisements. The recommendation for the use of a hands-free kit or headset must appear on the packaging of any cell phone sold.
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) allows manufacturers to test cell phones at a distance of 5 to 25 mm from the body. The SAR standards have not been updated since 1996.
On 12 May 2015, Berkeley, California, became the first city in the U.S. to require cell phone retailers to provide an information fact sheet to all those who purchase a new phone. The fact sheet informs buyers to read the user manual to learn the cell phone’s minimum separation distance from the body. The text states:
“The City of Berkeley requires that you be provided the following notice: To assure safety, the Federal Government requires that cell phones meet radio frequency (RF) exposure guidelines. If you carry or use your phone in pants or shirt pocket or tucked into a bra when the phone is ON and connected to a wireless network, you may exceed the federal guidelines for exposure to RF radiation. Refer to the instructions in your phone or user manual for information about how to use your phone safely.”
Polls reveal large number of users unaware of cell phone safety warnings
A highly respected poll of Berkeley residents conducted in April 2015 found that while 74% of respondents, including children, carried their phones in a pants or shirt pocket with the phone switched on – considered close contact – 66% were unaware that cell phone manufacturers recommend the products be carried away from the body or used with hands-free devices.
An independent survey by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) of more than 11,000 Canadians found that 80% were unaware of manufacturers stating the separation distance in user manuals and cell phones, and 67% admitted to carrying the phone against their bodies. An Australian study found that 25% of women have carried their cell phone tucked in their bra.
Europe has different cell phone SAR limits than the United States and Canada. The U.S. SAR maximum limits, adopted by the FCC in 1996, are 20% more stringent than those of France – 1.6 W/kg vs. 2.0 W/kg. Therefore, the results from the ANFR testing would likely be much worse for U.S. compliant phones. Also, the European SAR limit averages over 10 grams of tissue for 6 minutes of exposure to the head, trunk and extremities and the U.S. SAR limit, over 1 gram of tissue for 6 minutes of exposure to the head and trunk and 30 minutes for the extremities. Averaging over a larger volume, such as the 10 gram volume, allows much higher peak radiation values, such as are at the tissue locations closest to the cell phone.
The regulatory and public health agencies must take responsibility for protecting the population from harm. Phonegate Alert is working with scientists, researchers and other organizations to revise testing procedures, including taking into account the smaller size of children.
In March 2018, Dr. Arazi and Dr. Devra Davis, President of the Environmental Health Trust, jointly addressed a letter to the FCC, asking for a revision of the 1996 standards, taking into account the documentation from France and Europe on SAR standards and users’ overexposure to RF fields emitted by cell phones, and recommending measures to better protect users’ health, especially children. The current SAR test system protocols do not take into account the unique physiology of children, who have smaller heads and thinner skulls than adults, allowing RF energy to penetrate more deeply into their brains. 6
The letter also stressed the importance of developing and implementing public health campaigns and recommendations to reduce exposure directed primarily at parents, children, pregnant women and medically sensitive populations.
The FCC has not replied to this letter.
FCC maintains its existing radiofrequency limits dating from 1996
Together, the International Commission for Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP) and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) have set the RFR exposure guidelines for most countries. In 2019, proposed revised safety limits for RFR exposure guidelines continued to ignore or dismiss most of the research published since the original guidelines were adopted in the 1990’s. The revised exposure limits fail to regulate low intensity RFR exposures that have been found to cause harm to humans and other species in hundreds of peer-reviewed studies. ICNIRP and the FCC have long-standing conflicts of interest with the telecommunications industry.
After six years of study, the FCC announced in a press release dated 8 August 2019 that it was “appropriate to maintain the existing radiofrequency limits, which are among the most stringent in the world for cell phones”. The rules, which were first adopted in 1996, are the only ones governing cell phone exposures in the U.S. 7
The FCC officials said at a press briefing that scientific evidence to date indicates that, in terms of causing health effects, 5G is no different from any other cellular technology, including 4G or 3G. The higher-frequency signals (millimeter waves) used to deliver 5G also present no health risk, they said, pointing out that the existing RF exposure guidelines also apply to 5G.
It is recalled that during the 7 February 2019 U.S. Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee hearing on the future of 5G technology and its impact on the American people and economy, Senator Richard Blumenthal raised concerns about the lack of scientific research and data on the potential health risks of 5G technology. “Wireless carriers concede they are not aware of any independent scientific studies on the safety of 5G technologies.”
There has been limited research on the subject, and the FCC has thus far failed to adequately explain how they have determined 5G is safe.
Environmental Health Trust and Phonegate Alert Call for Congressional hearings on illegal cell phone radiation
On 17 December 2019, a letter jointly signed by Dr. Marc Arazi and Dr. Devra Davis, requesting action by the United States Congress, was sent to selected chairpersons of committees: Senators Roger Wicker and Lamar Alexander, and Representatives Carolyn Maloney and Frank Pallone. The letter calls on congressional leaders to put an end to the failure of the FCC to provide appropriate ways to test cell phones and to recall the millions of devices that French government and other independent assessments find emitting excessive levels of radiation. The letter includes a report, “Background and facts documenting Phonegate,” detailing numerous serious shortcomings of the FCC. 8, 9
The letter is supported by the president of Consumers for Safe Cell Phones, Cindy Franklin, and the California Brain Tumor Association, Ellen Marks, who join in demanding that investigations be launched to shed light on this widespread industrial deception and its consequences for the health of millions of cell phone users.
“We are writing to inform you and your staff of evidence of deceptive marketing practices by cell phone manufacturers and the serious shortcomings and lack of accountability regarding our federal regulators, in particular, the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and Food and Drug Administration (FDA).”
The letter asks for support for the request for a congressional hearing to investigate:
- industry’s deceptive actions with respect to marketing phones that exceed federal safety guidelines
- lack of federal regulatory oversight by the FCC to ensure that phones are being tested as they are being used by today’s consumers – in direct contact with the body
The letter also calls for setting up major information and prevention campaigns, particularly targeting young people and pregnant women.
U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)
The U.S. FDA has also been shirking its responsibility of assessing the impact on human health of RF radiation. It disagrees with the National Toxicology Program (NTP) study finding clear evidence of carcinogenicity. According to Jeffrey Shuren, Director of the FDA’s Center for Devices and Radiological Health, “these findings should not be applied to human cell phone usage,” adding that “we believe the existing safety limits for cell phones remain acceptable for protecting the public health.”
In 1999, the FDA nominated cell phone radiation emitted from wireless communication devices to the NTP for toxicity and carcinogenicity studies in experimental animals so as to “provide the basis to assess the risk to human health.”
The FDA needs to fulfill the intent of their nomination to the NTP and conduct a quantitative risk assessment so that the FCC can develop health-protective exposure standards. [More information on the FDA failure to take action to protect cell phone users may be found in the document, “Background and Facts Documenting PhoneGate and Our Call for Congressional Action”] 9
Chicago Tribune requests testing of popular cell phones for radiofrequency radiation
On 21 August 2019, the Chicago Tribune published an article, “We tested popular cellphones for radiofrequency radiation. Now the FCC is investigating”, written by Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative journalist Sam Roe, on the results of independent testing of 11 of the most popular cell phone models, including Apple’s iPhone 7 and 8, Korean manufacturer Samsung’s Galaxy S8, S9, J3 and Motorola’s Motoe5 Play. 10
Roe had contacted Dr. Arazi in January 2019 when he discovered information about the Phonegate scandal following the results obtained from the tests carried out by ANFR. They exchanged emails on a regular basis for months, with Dr. Arazi providing Roe with information considered to be important.
The tests by the Chicago Tribune were conducted by RF Exposure Lab, a laboratory based in San Marcos, California, which is recognized by the FCC as being accredited to test RF radiation from electronic devices.
As in the case of the ANFR tests, the tests were carried out at the FCC’s regulatory distance, between 10 and 15 mm from the skin, with the exception of Apple, which has been testing its iPhone at 5 mm since 2014, and also at a more realistic distance corresponding to our uses (kept in pockets), i.e. 2 mm.
The results were just as worrying as the ones revealed three years ago by Dr. Arazi and the Phonegate Alert Association. The iPhone 7, tested at 5 mm, far exceeds the U.S. regulatory limit (1.6W/kg for 1gr of tissue), i.e. 2.6 W/kg, 2.81 W/kg, and 2.50 W/kg. As for the three Samsung phones, SAR levels soared with a Galaxy S8 measurement more than 5 times the regulatory limit (8.22 W/kg), measurement taken at a distance of 2 mm from the skin. For the Motorola e5 Play, the SAR is just as high, exceeding the regulatory limit by four times.
“With a federal limit of 1.6 W/kg, nearly half of the phones failed the test at 5mm. At 2mm, representing a phone kept in your clothing, all but one failed…” 11
In response to the results of the test reports, the FCC announced it would take the rare step of conducting its own testing over the next few months to answer the many questions raised by the publication of these SAR measurements. Responding to the Chicago Tribune investigation, the FCC stated in December 2019 that its own testing found all eight models were in compliance. 12
The FCC’s test results are questionable, since the phones tested and the required equipment used to conduct the tests were provided by the manufacturers themselves.
The Chicago Tribune is the first major American media to take on the Phonegate affair.
2-Scientific evidence of health effects due to exposure to radiofrequency radiation
National Toxicology Program (NTP) study results
Both Dr. Arazi, as president of the Phonegate Alert Association, and Dr. Davis, President of the Environmental Health Trust, were among the speakers who provided public comments in person at the NTP Peer Review in Durham, NC, in March 2018. The final peer-reviewed NTP reports on rats and mice exposed to whole-body radiofrequency radiation used by cell phones confirmed “clear evidence” of an association between cell phone radiation and heart tumors (malignant schwannomas) in male rats; some evidence of tumors (malignant gliomas) in the brains of male rats; and some evidence of tumors in the adrenal glands of male rats. The speakers recalled, by bringing undeniable proof that, contrary to what was asserted by the NTP scientist team, human beings have been and still are much more exposed to the radiofrequency radiation of their cell phones than the rodents used for this study.
Dr. Ronald L. Melnick, who served as a toxicologist for more than 28 years at the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) and the National Toxicology Program, and led the design of the NTP carcinogenicity studies of cell phone RF radiation in rodents, comments on the results of this study: 13
- “Because of widespread use of cell phones, even a small increase in cancer would have a serious public health impact.
- “Precautionary principles should be promoted by health and regulatory agencies, especially for children and pregnant women. Cancer risks may be greater for children than adults due to increased penetration of cell phone radiation within the brains of children and because the developing nervous system is more susceptible to tissue damaging agents.
- “We should no longer assume that any current or future wireless technology, including 5G, is safe without adequate testing.The animals in the NTP study were also examined for evidence of RF radiation‐associated genotoxicity after 19 (rats) and 14 (mice) weeks of exposure.”
The animals in the NTP study were also examined for evidence of RF radiation‐associated genotoxicity after 19 (rats) and 14 (mice) weeks of exposure. The results, suggesting that exposure to RFR is associated with an increase in DNA damage, were reported in a research article entitled, “Evaluation of the genotoxicity of cell phone radiofrequency radiation in male and female rats and mice following subchronic exposure”, first published on 21 October 2019. 14
The NTP will soon embark on a new phase of its long-running RFR project, beginning with a systematic search for mechanisms to explain how and why the tumors developed. Work is expected to begin by the end of 2019. The research plan includes studies on gene expression, oxidative stress and DNA damage and repair, as well as the possible role played by heat. Other priorities on the NTP agenda are studies on behavior and stress.
IEEE scientific journal publishes analysis of ANFR data
On 18 April 2019, a new analysis of the French government data was published online in IEEE Access, a peer-reviewed open access scientific journal of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE). The analysis by Professor Om Gandhi, “Microwave Emissions From Cell Phones Exceed Safety Limits in Europe and the US When Touching the Body”, examined ANFR’s data on 450 cell phone models, indicating that phones can emit 11 times over the U.S. FCC limit and 3 times over French limits in 9 out of 10 phones tested. 15
Microwave Emissions From Cell Phones Exceed Safety Limits in Europe and the US When Touching the Body by Om Gandhi – published 11 April 2019
TABLE 1 SARs in W/kg Measured for Some Representative Telephones Held Against the Flat Phantom Model of the Body at Manufacturer-Suggested Distances D and at Distances of 5 and 0 mm as for Actual Use by Consumers (Taken From ANFR Test Report)
Radiofrequency radiation among agents proposed for reassessment by IARC with high priority
An article in the scientific journal, “The Lancet”, dated 17 April 2019, published the list of agents whose carcinogenicity is proposed to be assessed or reassessed during the period 2020-2024 by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) of the World Health Organization (WHO). In June 2011, IARC decided to place radiofrequency radiation in class “2B”, “possibly carcinogenic to humans”, on the basis of an increased risk of glioma, a type of malignant brain cancer associated with cell phone use.
After publication of numerous studies, including the recent NTP study in November 2018, experts considered that RF radiation should be reassessed with high priority. Some scientists are even calling for a classification in group 1: “carcinogenic”. Professor Anthony Miller, former Senior Epidemiologist for the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) and former Director of the Epidemiology Unit at the National Cancer Institute of Canada, explained in August 2017 at a scientific meeting on Phonegate in Jackson Hole (USA) organized by the Environmental Health Trust: “Evidence that wireless is carcinogenic has become more numerous and can no longer be ignored”. Professor Miller added that the evidence published since 2011 meets the requirements to reclassify RF radiation as a ‘Group 1: carcinogenic to humans’ agent.” 16
Brain cancers in France : fourfold increase in new cases of glioblastoma in 2018 according to Public Health France
In November 2019, Phonegate Alert announced this important news from the French Public Health Agency, “Santé publique France” which, in July 2019 (updated in September 2019), published national estimates of cancer incidence and mortality in metropolitan France between 1990 and 2018.
Between 1990 and 2018, the annual number of new cases of glioblastoma with histological confirmation (one of the most aggressive types of brain cancer) increased fourfold and more for both sexes. In the conclusion of its analysis, Santé Publique France considers that the extrinsic factors that may play a role in increasing the incidence of glioblastoma could be:
“brain radiation therapy and possibly intense and prolonged exposure to pesticides (farmers). The latest epidemiological studies and animal experiments would support the carcinogenic role of exposure to electromagnetic fields.”
Dr Annie Sasco, cancer epidemiologist, former Director of Research Unit at IARC-WHO and member of Phonegate’s Scientific Advisory Group, comments:
“The evolution of incidence and mortality rates of central nervous system tumors as a whole and especially glioblastoma over the past 30 years is of particular concern. Of course, diagnostic behaviors have evolved and play a role, especially for older people. Nevertheless, there is a real increase, even among the youngest, for whom it is likely that diagnostic modalities have changed less than among the elderly and which may therefore be linked to environmental factors and primarily to the use of mobile or wireless phones. Informing the public should make it possible not to continue on this upward trajectory, especially among young people, with an absolute duty to protect children by not allowing them to use a cellular phone and in general by protecting them from exposure to electromagnetic fields“. 17
Court orders Italian Government to adopt national information campaign on health and environmental risks associated with use of cell phones
In mid-January 2019, a decision of the Administrative Court of Rome ordered the Italian Government to adopt a national information campaign on the health and environmental risks associated with the use of cell and cordless phones. In their arguments, the Italian lawyers relied, among other things, on the data from the test results of ANFR on more than 500 mobile phones, published as part of the Phonegate affair. This case also raises serious questions about the health and environmental consequences of exposure to relay antennas, Wi-Fi, smart meters and 5G. 18
Italy launched its awareness campaign on the environmental and health impacts of mobile phone use on 19 July 2019 in answer to the court decision. 19 The campaign does not adequately inform the population that there may be risks of exposure to RF radiation, as was the intent of the Court’s decision.
The Court of Appeal of Turin confirms the link between a head tumor and cell phone use
The Court of Appeal of Turin confirmed in a full judgment published on 13 January 2020 (904/2019 of 3.12.2019, Romeo v. INAIL) the decision of the Tribunal of Ivrea of 2017. Judge Fadda considers that the worker’s acoustic neuroma (benign tumor of the head) was indeed caused by the use of the cell phone. 20, 21
The Romeo v. INAIL case is historic. It is the first in world judicial history to have had two consecutive judgments in favor of the plaintiff. It is also historic because of the principles underlying this decision, particularly the conflicts of interest of certain experts close to the mobile phone industry.
The Tribunal recognizes that telephone industry-funded scientists, or members of the ICNIRP, are less reliable than independent scientists:
“Much of the scientific literature that excludes carcinogenicity from RF exposure, or at least argues that research to the contrary cannot be considered conclusive… is in a position of conflict of interest, which is not always asserted: see, in particular, on page 94 of the report, the Applicant’s defence (not contested by the other party) that the authors of the studies indicated by INAIL, who are mentioned by name, are members of ICNIRP and/or SCENIHR, which have received, directly or indirectly, funding from industry. P. 33.”
The Turin CTU states:
“It is considered that less weight should be given to studies published by authors who have not declared the existence of conflicts of interest. In this case, conflict of interest situations may arise in relation to the assessment of the effect of radio frequencies on health, for example:
- cases where the author of the study advised the telephone industry or received funding for studies from the telephone industry
- if the author himself is a member of ICNIRP.”
Criminal complaint filed against cell phone manufacturer Xiaomi
Due to the actions of Phonegate Alert, on 15 April 2019, a criminal complaint against the Chinese company Xiaomi, the world’s fourth largest cell phone manufacturer, was filed with the Public Prosecutor of Paris. By placing on the market non-compliant cell phones, Xiaomi is being accused of deception, misleading commercial practice and endangering the lives of others.
In addition, ANFR, after having requested in April and May 2018 the recall of the two mobile phone models mentioned above has been favoring a software update solution for several months for all the other phones where the SAR threshold has been exceeded.
Not only is it the consumer’s responsibility to make the update in order to reduce the SAR of his phone and not to put himself in danger, but also the capacities of his mobile phone are considerably reduced. 22
New criminal complaint filed against HMD GLOBAL OY (NOKIA)
A new complaint was filed against the Finnish manufacturer HMD GLOBAL OY which, since the end of 2016, has been marketing NOKIA mobile phones.
In April 2019, ANFR announced, by means of two press releases, that it had asked HMD GLOBAL OY, which markets the Nokia 5 and Nokia 3 (TA-1032DS) smartphones, for a mandatory update following controls revealing that the SAR “trunk” regulatory values had been significantly exceeded.
Following the updates, the capacities of these two mobile phones are being considerably reduced, resulting in a degradation of both connectivity to mobile operators’ networks and the throughput level.
The new European regulation (Directive 2014/53/EU) requires since June 2016, with a transitional period of one year until June 2017, measurement of the SAR trunk at a maximum distance of 5mm. Four new smartphone models manufactured by HMD GLOBAL OY (Nokia 1, 2.1, 3.1, and 5.1) were placed on the market from June 2018, in violation of French and European regulations. In order to display low SAR levels, these four models were measured 15mm from the body (instead of 5mm). This 10mm difference will increase the real SAR value, significantly exceeding the regulatory limit for each of the phones concerned. This will have possible consequences for the health of users.
The Finnish company also did not comply with the obligation to provide information in its manuals on the SAR value and the measuring distance.
HMD GLOBAL OY (NOKIA) is therefore accused of:
- Misleading commercial practice
- Endangering the lives of others
As in the XIAOMI case, the owners and users of the smartphones concerned can assert their rights by joining the collective action launched on the platform “V pour Verdict”. 23
Nokia 6.1 added to class action against HMD GLOBAL OY
On 16 July 2019, ANFR published test results of the NOKIA 6.1 (TA-1043) smartphone marketed by HMD GLOBAL OY, which revealed that the regulatory limits for the SAR trunk had been significantly exceeded with a value of 3.58 W/kg. Furthermore, the manual of the Nokia 6.1 states that the phone was tested by the manufacturer at a distance of 15 mm, violating the European regulatory measurement limit of 5mm. The marketer of the phone, HMD GLOBAL OY has decided to update the phone (lowering the SAR trunk to 1.92 W/kg) in order to meet the European standard of 2.0 W/kg.
V pour Verdict thus also launched a class action concerning the Nokia 6.1. The BFS Open DATA database shows that the head and trunk SAR levels of all Nokia models sold on the European market are, before controls, particularly high and give rise to a general suspicion of deception on the part of HMD GLOBAL OY. Attorney Elias Bourran, lawyer at the Paris Bar, will, on behalf of the Phonegate Alert Association, file an additional complaint against the Finnish manufacturer.
Phonegate Alert recommends that all Nokia brand users be particularly vigilant, storing their mobile phones in a location that is as far away from the body as possible (avoid, for example, keeping the phone in a pants pocket) and do not hold it near the ear. 24
Class action lawsuit filed against Apple and Samsung in the United States
Following publication of the Chicago Tribune investigation revealing results of testing of popular cell phones, a first class action lawsuit has been filed against Apple and Samsung from consumers who claim that iPhones and Galaxy smartphones emit more radiation than is allowable by law. (Case no. 5:19-cv-05322) 25
Eleven plaintiffs allege that the cell phones exceed the maximum limit allowed for RF radiation exposure. “Defendants market and sell some of the most popular smartphones in the world – including Apple’s iPhones and Samsung’s Galaxy phones – as emitting less RF radiation than that set by law and as being completely safe to carry and use on or in close proximity to the human body,” the Apple class action lawsuit alleges.
In addition, the Apple, Samsung class action lawsuit states that scientific publications have presented evidence that RF radiation exposure has an effect on living creatures below international and national guidelines: “Effects include increased cancer risk, cellular stress, increase in harmful free radicals, genetic damages, structural and functional changes of the reproductive system, learning and memory deficits, neurological disorders, and negative impacts on general well-being in humans,” the Samsung class action lawsuit states.
The plaintiffs allege that Apple and Samsung market their cell phones on the premise that the devices can always be close to their bodies, such as in a pocket or while holding them in their hands.
The plaintiffs say that, past models of the iPhone had a warning for users to carry their devices at least 10mm away from their body. However, later models did not have such advice to consumers.
The Samsung marketing material for their devices “implies” that carrying or wearing their cellphones close to the body is safe.
On September 10, 2019, a new class action lawsuit against Apple and Samsung was filed by Andrus Anderson LLP in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California in San Francisco, representing 16 plaintiffs (Case No. 3:19-cv-05707)
The plaintiffs are represented by Jennie Lee Anderson of Andrus Anderson LLP, Elizabeth A. Fegan and Timothy A. Scott of Fegan Scott LLC and J. Barton Goplerud of Schindler Anderson Goplerud & Weese PC. 26, 27
Class action lawsuit against Apple and Samsung filed in Montreal, Canada
On September 5, 2019, a group of citizens, concerned that their mobile phones have exposed them to “harmful levels” of RF radiation, filed a class action lawsuit against Apple and Samsung at the Montreal Courthouse. The plaintiffs are suing the two companies for “intentionally violating” consumer protection laws. In addition, there is non-compliance with the Radiation Emitting Devices Act (https://laws-lois.justice.gc.ca/eng/acts/R-1/page-1.html) which “prohibits the sale, rental or import into Canada of a radiation device if the device creates a risk to any individual of genetic or personal injury, impairment of health or death…”
Attorney Charles O’Brien of Montreal is representing the plaintiffs. 28
Each and every one of us can reduce exposure to the RF waves of our cell phones
Public health and regulatory agencies must take the findings of Phonegate into consideration in launching the necessary actions to protect cell phone users’ health.
Most public health agencies do not go far enough with their recommendations on how to reduce users’ exposure. Here are some tips:
- Use the cell phone as seldom as possible and keep calls short. When it’s not being used, switch off the phone.
- Avoid keeping a phone on one’s body (in a pants or shirt pocket or bra). All users’ guides for cell phones advise keeping the phone at a distance from the body. This warning is also found in the phone itself.
- Do not keep a switched-on cell phone on the nightstand or near the head: the radiation emitted interferes with brain waves and can disturb sleep. Do not sleep with the cell phone in the bed.
- Favor using speaker mode or a hands-free kit. Attention: an earpiece reduces exposure but does not remove it.
- Avoid calling in a car, bus, train. The waves of a cell phone, reflected off the metallic structure, are concentrated in a small space.
- Do not passively expose neighbors and children. This advice is particularly applicable to use in enclosed spaces: cars, trains, buses, airplanes.
- For pregnant women, do not hold or use a cell phone near the abdomen, do not use a laptop connected to Wi-Fi on the lap. In general, avoid use of cell phones to the greatest extent possible.
- For all parents: give your child a cell phone as late as possible – not before age 14. Their brain absorbs more radiation than that of adults.
Above all, remember to keep cell phones away from the body. “Distance is your friend.”
About the Phonegate Alert Association:
The Phonegate Alert Association is an international NGO based in Nogent-sur-Marne, France. Its president is Dr. Marc Arazi.
One of the main goals of the Association is better protection of the health of users of wireless devices worldwide, especially children. The Association is also working on the revision of standards and regulations to increase this protection.
The Association has an advisory group of international scientific experts, including Dr. Devra Davis, President of the Environmental Health Trust.
The latest presentation by Dr. Arazi on Phonegate was given in Mainz, Germany, during the International Public Symposium “Biological Effects of Wireless Technology”, 4–6 October 2019. 29, 30
2 French Agency for Food, Environmental and Occupational Health & Safety (ANSES), “Exposure to mobile telephones carried close to the body”, 21 October 2019
3 Joint press release French Ministry of Solidarity and Health, « Le Gouvernement agit pour limiter l’exposition aux émissions de certains téléphones mobiles et mieux informer le public », 25 October 2019
- [English Translation of French Government press release “The Government is taking action to limit exposure to the emissions of certain mobile phones and to better inform the public” https://mieuxprevenir.blogspot.com/2019/10/phonegate-french-ministerial.html#more ]
4 Phonegate Alerte Open Letter “Protection of the health of users overexposed to mobile phone waves: the appeal from our associations to the government!” (translation), 8 November 2019
5 For the lists of the 250 cell phone models, see: Phonegate Alert Association, “Check if your mobile phone presents a risk to your health”, 5 August 2018.
6 Letter from Dr. Marc Arazi and Dr. Devra Davis addressed to FCC, 20 March 2018.
7 FCC Press Release, “Chairman Pai proposes to maintain current radiofrequency exposure safety standards”, 8 August 2019
8 Phonegate Alert Press Release, “Phonegate Scandal: Environmental Health Trust and Phonegate Alert Call for Congressional Hearings on Illegal Phone Radiation”, 12 January 2020
9 Environmental Health Trust and Phonegate Alert, “Background and Facts Documenting PhoneGate and Our Call for Congressional Action”, December 2019
10 Chicago Tribune, “We tested popular cellphones for radiofrequency radiation. Now the FCC is investigating.” 21 August 2019
11 The Truth about Cancer, “The Cell Phone Radiation Scandal: Top Brands are Lying About Safety”, 23 August 2019
12 Chicago Tribune, “FCC says tests find cellphones comply with federal limits on radiofrequency radiation”, 20 December 2019
13 “The NTP Cell Phone Study Explained – with Dr. Ron Melnick”, video of presentation made at expert forum, Shrewsbury, MA, March 25, 2019, “Questioning the Safety of Our Children’s Exposure to Wireless Radiation in the Classroom.”
14 Environmental and Molecular Mutagenesis, « Evaluation of the genotoxicity of cell phone radiofrequency radiation in male and female rats and mice following subchronic exposure”, 21 October 2019
15 Om P. Gandhi, “Microwave Emissions From Cell Phones Exceed Safety Limits in Europe and the US When Touching the Body”, IEEE Access, vol. 7, April 2019.
16 Phonegate Alert Association, “[Press release] Radio frequency waves are among the agents proposed for IARC to reassess with high priority”, 23 April 2019.
17 Phonegate Alert Association, « [Press release] Brain cancers : 4 times more new cases of glioblastoma in 2018 according to Public Health France”, 18 November 2019
18 Phonegate Alert Association, « Italy: a landmark judgment requires the state to inform the population of the health risks due to mobile phones”, 18 Jan. 2019
19 “Uso corretto dei cellular” (Proper use of mobile phones), Italian Government, 19 July 2019
20 Phonegate Alert Associaiton, « The Court of Appeal of Turin confirms the link between a head tumour and mobile phone use”, 15 January 2020
21 Il Fatto Quotidiano, “Cellulare e tumori, Corte di appello di Torino conferma: “Nesso tra uso e cancro all’orecchio. Spesso studiosi sono in conflitto d’interesse”, 14 January 2020
22 Phonegate Alert Association, “Phonegate: criminal complaint against Chinese smartphone manufacturer Xiaomi”, 15 April 2019
23 Phonegate Alert Association, “[Press release] Phonegate scandal: a criminal complaint against HMD GLOBAL OY (NOKIA)”, 12 June 2019
24 Phonegate Alert Association, “[Press release] Nokia smartphone SAR: general deception suspected”, 18 July 2019
25 “Apple, Samsung Class Action Says Phones Emit Radiation”, Top Class Actions, 27 August 2019
26 « RF Exposure Class Action » – (Case no. 5:19-cv-05322)
27 « RF Exposure Class Action » – (Case No. 3:19-cv-05707)
28 ” Une action collective contre les cellulaires «nocifs pour la santé» d’Apple et Samsung”, journalmetro.com, 5 September 2019
29 Phonegate Alert Association, “Dr Arazi’s presentation at the International Scientific Conference in Mainz, Germany”, 7 October 2019
30 Kompetenzinitiative, 14 video presentations to the Symposium on « Biological Effects of Wireless Technology”, Mainz, Germany, 4-6 October 2019
by Meris Michaels, Editor, “Towards Better Health” and member of the Phonegate Alert Association
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