Cell Phone Safety

Earlier this year, the British government recommended that children's use of cell phones be limited to essential calls. The recommendation was not based on any scientific evidence that cell phones pose a special risk to children. Rather, it was a precautionary recommendation, the government explained, to protect a vulnerable population with still-developing nervous systems.

The FDA has suggested some simple steps that American cell phone users can take if they remain concerned about potential health risks but don't want to give up their mobile phones.

First, people can of course consider reserving the use of mobile phones for shorter conversations or when a conventional phone is not available. Also, they can switch to a type of mobile phone with a headset to place more distance between the antenna and their bodies. And for the car, people can switch to a mobile phone with the antenna mounted outside the vehicle.

With the recent media spotlight on cell phones, cancer researcher John Moulder, Ph.D., warns that some marketers are preying on people's fear of radiation, selling fraudulent devices with claims that they are protective. Moulder has seen a variety of creative but useless items, mostly on the Internet, from pendants worn around the neck to so-called RF-proof lingerie. As to products sold as shields for the phone to cut your RF exposure while not interfering with the communication signal, Moulder says, "I have yet to see one that can do both of those things."

Adapted from the November-December, 2000 issue of FDA Consumer.

For more information on cell phone safety, visit www.fda.gov/cellphones.