Tags: Author | Urges | Protections | Against | Cell-Phone | Radiation

Author Urges Protections Against Cell-Phone Radiation

Tuesday, 08 May 2001 12:00 AM

Syndicated columnist Martin Schram indicts flawed "scientific” studies and sloppy media reporting for lulling the public into complacency.

Schram, along with epidemiologist Dr. George Carlo, has co-written a book,

This week, Congress is looking at the dangers of using cellular phones while driving. While that is a legitimate concern, the lawmakers are overlooking what is potentially a more deadly threat: the radiation from the cell phone itself, whenever and wherever you use it.

"We don’t take chances with automobiles,” the veteran Washington journalist says. "We don’t let people improperly use that machine. We say you’ve got to have seat belts.”

Libertarians, of course, still argue against that government mandate. But by and large, the public accepts the necessity of seat belts because of a recognized danger.

Schram’s analogy is that if seat belts are provided for automobiles, headsets should accompany cell phones.

Does that mean cell phone users should be required to walk around with earphones around their necks? Not so, says Schram. A small convenient earpiece attachment can accompany a cell phone. That way, you can use your cell phone to your heart’s content without fearing a "micro-nuclei” radiation, which lab experiments have indicated could endanger the head near the point where the cell phone antenna is located when the device is in use.

The studies that the media cited as reasons for reassurance merely proved that the kinds of tumors that could not possibly be reached by cell phone radiation were in fact, not caused by cell phone radiation.

To play up a nothing study like that comes close to going out of one’s way to avoid confronting the real problem. One could almost compare it to a polite cocktail party where the guests chatter amiably while ignoring the dead mouse in the middle of the room.

What was dismissed as not significant, apparently because the samples were not large, is the finding that 35 patients in a smaller group did have tumors near the sides of the head, close to the area where the cell phone antenna would be. And unlike the people in the other tests, those in this particular group of 35 were frequent and more longtime cell phone users.

It is Schram’s view that:

Some hungry "public interest” lawyer could say: "Aha! You’re telling us to use headsets now. So up until now, you’ve been selling us a life-threatening product. Well, here’s nice fat 'class-action' lawsuit for you.”

There is no doubt that the trial lawyers are, in fact, licking their chops over this. Instead of making America safer, they are actually encouraging corporations to hide their potential product threats under the bed, lest they face bankruptcy at the hands of a sue-happy public.

The tobacco companies could have saved themselves a lot of grief, and who knows how many lives, had they leveled with the public early. And that was before the trial lawyers took on what some critics have defined as the role of modern stagecoach robbers.

Unlike tobacco, however, cell phones have a redeeming value. They’re everywhere. Americans love their cell phones. It’s hard to imagine an unwillingness to adjust to headsets so that they can have the cell phone advantage of saving time and money, and at the same time be assured of not facing a death threat.

Baltimore super-lawyer Peter Angelos, whose Orioles baseball club won’t hire Cuban immigrants lest Fidel Castro be offended, has already announced he intends to build a huge class-action case on cell phones. Do we want him to clean up, as he will if a real danger is conclusively proven? Or will the industry move to play it safe by acting on its own?

Unfortunately, says Schram, the cell phone makers are playing the game of "hide it from the public” for reasons noted above. Their corporate attorneys are telling them to say "Screw the people,” he believes.

Part of the problem is that there really is "junk science” out there. Some "environmentalist” organizations (as opposed to individuals who consider themselves to be environmentally aware) that would now warn of cell phone dangers lack credibility among those who have seen their exaggerations on other issues.

But this is not alarmism backed by well-financed environmental groups seeking to raise money, or some government bureaucrat with a political investment in seeking to "prove a point.” This is a concern that is being spotlighted in its early stages. True, it’s not conclusive, but the early signs are real.

As Schram sees it, the response of the industry should not be to go after and try to discredit his co-author, Dr. Carlo, as has happened. The industry can nip this in the bud. The industry does not need to wait until government mandates headsets.

When you buy your cell phone, you can seek one that accommodates headsets.

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Syndicated columnist Martin Schram indicts flawed scientific" studies and sloppy media reporting for lulling the public into complacency. Schram, along with epidemiologist Dr. George Carlo, has co-written a book, This week, Congress is looking at the dangers of using...
Tuesday, 08 May 2001 12:00 AM
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