A general site mainly for journalists.
Stewart Fist, journalist, columnist and film-maker.
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The Adelaide Hospital study of GSM cellular phones
This article of mine appeared first in March 1999 in the Electronics Australia magazine. I had previously been the Crossroads columnist in the weekly technical supplement of The Australian newspaper and also editor of a couple of Australian electronics and computer magazines run by Fairfax. See the article with more recent qualifications and explanations:
I had been actively lobbying in these various publications for many years to have the telecommunications industry conduct research into the safety of cellphone handsets (not so much the base-stations), because this was the first time in history that large numbers of young people were actively holding radio-transmitters up against the side of their heads for long periods of time ... and would obviously continue to have their brains exposed to these EMF signals for most of their life-times.
My first article on the Adelaide Hospital research had been published by the New Scientist magazine on 10 May 1997 (from a leak) two years before Telstra allowed the full study to be published. You can see this at New Scientist if you are interested.
For a number of years I had also been in touch with some of the independent researchers around the world who were similarly concerned about the lack of cellphone industry research. The most important work along these lines was done by Drs Henry Lai and Narendra P Singh at Washington University in the USA. Henry Lai was the key researcher and 'NP' Singh (who has since died) was the leading expert in the world on what is known as 'the comet assay'.
They had done experiments with moderate numbers of mice exposed to the American TDMA phone radiation (very similar to European-Australian GSM) and were detecting increased damage in the mice DNA. They found significant numbers of excess DNA breaks in the brains of the mice exposed to TDMA's pulsed radio power. DNA does have breaks naturally when cells reproduce, but the cells have repair mechanisms, and the Lai-Singh work showed that the cellphone exposure increased the number of 'unhealed' DNA breaks.
However, their work was difficult to replicate (Singh was way ahead of the pack) and so the research was discounted, if not ignored by the industry. See an explanation article on comet assays if you are interested.
Note that nothing in this research suggests that modern cellphones, which don't use pulsed power GSM or American TDMA, will cause brain cancers, etc. Nor is there any suggestion that evidence exists that they wont. More research is needed.
This is more in the nature of an object lesson in the need for all industries to do precautionary research and not assume that factors like radio-frequency radiation can't produce long-term health problems.