Scientists and public health officials assess risks to human health based on the entire body of evidence, rather than individual scientific studies. The evidence is considered by panels of experts in this field. We look to such expert reviews for advice on mobile devices, masts and health. We only consider the opinion of panels commissioned by recognised national or international health agencies, for example, the World Health Organization (WHO), The Health Council of the Netherlands (HCN), The Swedish Radiation Safety Authority (SSM) (formerly the Swedish Radiation Protection Authority - SSI) and Public Health England (formerly the UK Health Protection Agency (HPA).
Since 2001, there have been a significant number of expert reviews of scientific research studies into mobiles, masts and health published by expert panels around the world. This page contains a summary of reviews published from 2006 to date. See the table of expert reviews for a complete list of reviews meeting our standards of scientific rigour.
In May 2011, an expert group from the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), a specialist agency within the World Health Organization (WHO), announced its cancer hazard assessment for radiofrequency signals (RF), including those from broadcast, mobile communications, microwaves and radar.
IARC classified RF as “possibly carcinogenic to humans (Group 2B), based on an increased risk for glioma, a malignant type of brain cancer, associated with wireless phone use”. The full findings of the group's work were published on 19th April 2013, in IARC Monograph 102, and confirmed the 2B classification from May 2011.
The WHO will produce an RF health risk assessment based on a review of the scientific evidence for all potential health effects of exposure to RF fields, which will be informed by the IARC classficiation and is anticipated in 2015/16.
The International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP), a non-governmental organisation formally recognised by the World Health Organization, provides guidance on limiting human exposure to RF fields. See their 1998 guidelines which, in August 2009, ICNIRP confirmed were still valid.
International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP)
In July 2009, the International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP) published a review “Exposure to high frequency electromagnetic fields, biological effects and health consequences (100 kHz-300 GHz)”. This review is an important input to the WHO health risk assessment process and forms the basis for a thorough re-evaluation of ICNIRP’s science-based guidance on limiting exposure to electromagnetic fields.
In this review, extending to more than 350 pages, ICNIRP provides its detailed analysis and discussion on the implications for health of studies published after release of their 1998 exposure guidelines, which, in August 2009, ICNIRP confirmed were still valid.
This review is consistent with earlier expert review findings that, apart from RF heating, there is still no convincing evidence for adverse health effects from the low level RF fields from mobile devices and base stations.
ICNIRP's full conclusions on experimental studies of RF biological effects can be found in section II.6.2 of the review, here are some extracts:
"...Whilst it is in principle impossible to disprove the possible existence of non-thermal interactions, the plausibility of various non-thermal mechanisms that have been proposed is very low."
“Concerning cancer-related effects, the recent in vitro and animal genotoxicity and carcinogenicity studies are rather consistent overall and indicate that such effects are unlikely at SAR levels up to 4 W kg-1...”
“The evidence from double-blind provocation studies suggests that subjective symptoms, such as headaches, that have been identified by some individuals as associated with RF exposure, whilst real enough to the individuals concerned, are not causally related to EMF exposure.”
“The experimental data do not suggest so far that children are more susceptible than adults to RF radiation, but few relevant studies have been conducted.”
ICNIRP’s full conclusions on epidemiology can be found in section III.8 of the review, here are some example extracts:
“Results of epidemiological studies to date give no consistent or convincing evidence of a causal relation between RF exposure and any adverse health effect. On the other hand, these studies have too many deficiencies to rule out an association ...”
“Although the likelihood is low that fields emanating from base stations would create a health hazard, because of their weakness, this possibility is nevertheless a concern for many people ... On the one hand, results from valid studies would be of value in relation to a social concern; on the other hand, it would be difficult to design and conduct a valid study, and there is no scientific point in conducting an invalid one ...”