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Markey, Waxman, Eshoo: Scientific Research Needed on Health Impact of Mobile Phones

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Location: Washington, DC

Representatives Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), senior member of the Energy and Commerce Committee, Henry A. Waxman (D-Calif.), Ranking Member of the Energy and Commerce Committee, and Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.), Ranking Member of the Communications and Technology Subcommittee today announced their request that the Government Accountability Office (GAO) commence a thorough review of the status of existing research on the health risks of long-term mobile phone use, adequacy of the Federal Communications Commission's (FCC) safety standards for mobile phone radiation, and what actions are being taken to inform the public of potential risks. The request also asks GAO to examine the basis for safety recommendations included in user manuals of the iPhone and other major mobile companies, which instruct users to hold the phone away from the body when making calls.

Yesterday, the International Agency for Research on Cancer of the World Health Organization (WHO) announced its decision to classify "radiofrequency electromagnetic fields as possibly carcinogenic to humans, based on an increased risk for glioma, a malignant type of brain cancer, associated with wireless phone use." In 2001, in response to Rep. Markey's request with Senator Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.), the GAO prepared a report entitled "Research and Regulatory Efforts on Mobile Phone Health Issues" which found that, at the time, there was not enough information to conclude that radiofrequency energy emitted from mobile phones poses no risk to humans.

"The announcement by the World Health Organization makes clear that additional research is needed to fully understand the long-term impact of mobile phone use on the human body, particularly in children whose brains and nervous systems are still developing," said Rep. Markey.

"Ten years ago, I requested that the Government Accountability Office produce a report on the status of research about the safety of mobile phone use. The conclusion at that time was not far off from where we find ourselves today: more research remains to be done.

"It's been a decade since GAO completed its last report at my request. With the significant increase in mobile phone usage over these years and this most recent study from the WHO, now is the time for further research. That's why I have asked the GAO to conduct another investigation so that we can increase our understanding of the breadth of scientific research in this important area, understand what gaps in research remain, and ensure that consumers have access to the information they need to make informed decisions about their health," concluded Rep. Markey.

"The WHO announcement that cell phone use may "possibly' be carcinogenic underscores the limited nature of our evidence base in this area," said Rep. Waxman. "With such widespread cell phone use, we need to know more, and that's why we are asking for an assessment of this emerging area of science."

"The health of the American consumer is not something to play around with," said Rep. Eshoo. "Over the last decade, cell phone use across our country has grown astronomically, and a great amount of research and progress has been made. It's absolutely imperative that we're giving adequate attention to cell phone use as a public health issue, and that's why it only makes sense for the GAO to reexamine their findings. U.S. consumers deserve to have all available information in order to make informed and healthy decisions -- that's all we are asking for today."

Reps. Markey, Waxman and Eshoo requested the GAO report in order to learn more about issues such as:

* What is the general status of scientific research on mobile phone radiofrequency energy as it relates to human health, including current activities of federal agencies in sponsoring, conducting, or overseeing ongoing and planned research?
* What is the general status of scientific research to assess the long-term impact of cell phone RF emissions on children and teenagers?
* What key actions have been undertaken by federal agencies to promote public awareness regarding the risk of exposure to RF energy emitted by cell phones?


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