Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Cell phones = Cancer??

After nearly 14 years of waffling on the dangers of cellphones, health officials concluded Tuesday the devices can cause cancer, putting them in the same category as coffee, gasoline engine exhaust and the pesticide DDT.
Although some experts say the ruling by the International Agency for Research on Cancer, shouldn’t change people’s cellphone habit, Dr. Otis Brawley, chief medical officer at the American Cancer Society, said the evidence is enough to warrant concern.
While studies showing an association between exposure to non-thermal radio frequency energy and biological effects that may lead to adverse health outcomes are present in existing scientific literature, attempts to replicate and confirm these positive findings have failed, said Erica Jefferson, a spokesperson for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
She said that most studies investigating an association between radio-frequency exposure and adverse health outcomes have failed to show a positive association and that additional research is needed. That research is being conducted around the world to address knowledge gaps that have been identified from earlier studies.
Cellphone users concerned about possible health risks associated with radio frequency emitted by their phones can take these precautions:
• Reduce the amount of time you spend on cellphones by using it only for short conversations, or only when a conventional phone is not available.
• Purchase a phone with a low specific absorption rate (SAR). SAR is measured in watts per kilogram of RF. The maximum SAR allowed by the FCC is 1.6. In contrast, some "low-radiation" phones have SARs lower than 0.5. For information on the SAR level, check the FCC identification usually found under the battery pack, then log onto
• Use a hands-free device such as a corded or cordless earpiece, which can decrease the amount of RF waves that reach the head. Corded earpieces emit virtually n0 RF waves (although the phone itself still emits small amounts that can reach parts of the body if close enough). Bluetooth® earpieces have an SAR value of around 0.001 watts/kg less than one thousandth the SAR limit for cell phones as set by the FDA and FCC.

Japanese Government under fire over Disaster Plan

A blueprint for ending radiation leaks and stabilizing reactors at Japan's crippled nuclear plant drew a lackluster response Monday, as polls showed diminishing public support for the government's handling of the country's recent disasters.
The plan issued by Tokyo Electric Power Co. over the weekend, in response to a government order, is meant to be a first step toward letting some of the tens of thousands of evacuees from near the company's Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant return to their homes.

Those forced to flee due to radiation leaks after a catastrophic earthquake and tsunami on March 11 knocked out the plant's power and cooling systems are frustrated that their exile will not end soon. And officials acknowledge that unforeseen complications, or even another natural disaster, could set that timetable back even further.   Pressure has been building on the government and TEPCO to resolve Japan's worst-ever nuclear power accident, and Prime Minister Naoto Kan is facing calls for his resignation.
A majority of those surveyed in the polls by the Mainichi, Nihon Keizai and Asahi newspapers expressed support, though, for tax increases to pay for reconstruction of areas devastated by the tsunami.

Goshi Hosono, an adviser to the prime minister and member of his nuclear crisis management task force, said the government would closely monitor TEPCO's implementation of its crisis plan and hoped it could be carried out ahead of schedule.

The timetable's first step focuses on cooling the reactors and spent fuel pools, reducing radiation leaks and decontaminating water that has become radioactive, within three months. The second step, for within six to nine months, is to bring the release of radioactive materials fully under control, achieve a cold shutdown of the reactors and cover the buildings, possibly with a form of industrial cloth.

Nuclear safety officials described the plan as ''realistic,'' but acknowledged there could be setbacks.
The unveiling of the roadmap came two days after TEPCO – also under pressure from Kan's government – announced plans to give 1 million yen ($12,000) in initial compensation to each evacuated household, with much more expected later.