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# Posted: 31 Oct 2006 05:37
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Expert raises cellphone warning

If you're a heavy cellphone user, you're increasing the risk of cancer and genetic damage, according to pathologist George Carlo, who has been called the Ralph Nader of the wireless industry.

Carlo, director of the non-profit Safe Wireless Initiative in Washington, D.C., speaks here Wednesday.

Nearly a decade ago, Carlo blew the whistle on the potential health hazards from wireless phones. At the time, he was part of a $28-million safety study financed by the cellphone industry. His research raised red flags about a possible link between
cellphone radiation and cancer and genetic damage.

Despite his headline-generating preliminary findings, research funding to explore the health hazards was cut off.

"Most people think it was a problem and it's gone away," said Carlo in a phone interview, underscoring why cellphones are generally believed hazard-free. He fingers the cellphone industry for the public's complacency.

Carlo says there are more than 20 studies worldwide citing health hazards from cellphone electromagnetic radiation. He also concedes there are studies saying there are no health hazards from cellphone use.

The majority of those studies, he argues, are funded from within the cellphone industry.

Carlo estimates there are two billion cellphone users worldwide, which makes the phones a potentially massive health risk.

"We've never had a population as large as this at risk," Carlo said.

The potential health hazard from cellphones is a tough message to sell to the public.

"The number one reason is that people want the technology. They have a vested interest in not listening to the message," Carlo said.

However, there are ways to reduce the hazard, according to Carlo. The most obvious is to limit time spent on cellphones.

"I'm trying to break the habit," admitted Carlo, who uses his cellphone only for voice-mail messages.

Cellphones are the most dangerous when held within 15 to 18 cm of the head, he said. Headsets are a safer alternative.

"Headsets allow you move the radiation plume away from the body," he said.

The technology already exists to fix the radiation problem, according to Carlo, citing the advances the military has made to protect personnel on ships and planes.

Carlo comes to Victoria at the invitation of health consultant Kerry Crofton. She discovered him when researching the hazards of wireless technology, prompted by her daughter's now wireless school and its proximity to high-voltage lines.

"I'm now on a health mission," said Crofton, who at one time felt compelled to acquire the latest technological gadget. She now only uses her cellphone for emergencies and not to socialize.

"You can't just protect yourself by not having a cellphone -- the whole city's going wireless," she said.

LECTURE: The Invisible Hazards of the Wireless Age

By: Dr. George Carlo
Times Colonist (Victoria, British Columbia)
BYLINE: Jim Gibson, Times Colonist

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