Wireless health risks need research

As industrial wireless is on the rise, a US report requested by the Food and Drug Administration calls for more research on the potential health effects of exposure to radio frequency energy tied to wireless technology.

The committee that wrote the report identified research needs and gaps based on presentations made by international experts and discussion sessions with attendees at a three-day workshop last August that evaluated disciplines and topics such as measurement of RF energy and exposure, studies on human populations, human laboratory measurements, and animal and cell biology.

In the report, research needs are defined as studies that, in the near term, could increase understanding of any potential adverse effects of RF energy on humans. Gaps are defined as research studies that are of lower priority or that should not be carried out until the results of current research studies are evaluated. The committee did not evaluate potential health effects or recommend how the identified research needs should be met.

One research need the committee identified is studies of any potential health consequences from multiple, long-term, low-intensity RF exposure as opposed to most of the present data that evaluates acute effects on healthy adults during short exposures to RF fields. For instance, measuring the amount of RF energy received by juveniles, children, pregnant women, and fetuses from wireless devices and RF base station antennas could help define exposure ranges for various populations.

“The health effects of RF on the human body are a very controversial topic,” said Frank S. Barnes, Chair of the Committee.

“There are a whole lot of studies that do not show any health effects from RF, and a few studies that do show some effects. While some studies show “perturbed growth effects” in cells as a result of these frequencies, other studies have shown therapies using electromagnetic frequencies can facilitate bone healing,” he said.