Do cell phones give you cancer? There's no evidence for it, says US's FDA

FDA reviews 11 years of scientific studies on cell phone use and concludes there is no harm to humans.
Written by Liam Tung, Contributing Writer

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) says it has found "no quantifiable adverse health effects in humans caused by exposures at or under the current cell phone exposure limits", after reviewing numerous studies conducted between 2008 and 2019. 

The FDA recently updated its page on scientific evidence for cell phone safety and notes that current limits on radio frequency (RF) energy set by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) remain "acceptable for protecting public health"

FCC chairman Ajit Pai last August pronounced 5G as safe amid concerns in some communities across the world that millimeter waves used in some 5G networks could harm humans. 

The FCC had earlier in 2019 sought expert advice from the FDA on safe levels of RF exposure as 5G technologies emerged. 

The FDA at the time reviewed reports by the National Toxicology Program (NTP) on studies involving whole-body exposure of rats and mice to RF radiation used in 3G technologies. But the FDA disagreed with the reports' conclusions and warned that NTP's findings should not be applied to human cell phone usage. 

The FDA's objections to the rat study included the way the animals received radiation over their entire bodies for nine hours a day until they died, with radiation levels up to 75 times higher than the whole-body exposure limit for humans. 

As far as 5G goes, the FDA says it still considers 5G safe based on the latest scientific evidence, but that it intends to monitor potential impacts of 5G. 

SEE: IT pro's guide to the evolution and impact of 5G technology (free PDF)  

"While many of the specifics of 5G remain ill-defined, it is known that 5G cell phones will use frequencies covered by the current FCC exposure guidelines (300kHz-100GHz), and the conclusions reached based on the current body of scientific evidence covers these frequencies. The FDA will continue to monitor scientific information as it becomes available regarding the potential impacts of 5G," the FDA notes. 

Despite this reassurance, there are still concerns that 5G is harmful and that could be a stumbling block for its deployment. As Bloomberg reported earlier this month, the municipality of Wohlen, Switzerland, has blocked telcos from rolling out masts to broadcast 5G due to residents' concerns about potentially harmful effects of the towers' electromagnetic radiation.

Editorial standards