Radiofrequency radiation was classified as a Group 2B possible carcinogen in 2011 by the World Health Organization International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC). However, since that date, the published peer-reviewed scientific evidence has significantly increased– showing these types of non-ionizing electromagnetic radiation can have adverse effects at exposure levels governments currently allow. 

A mounting body of science links cell phone radiation to cancer, memory problems, behavioral problems, altered brain development and effects to fertility.  Government regulations are based on short term exposures and do not account for the way children and youth use phones today- in positions against their body for hours a day.

A sampling of published research EHT President Dr. Davis co-authored with other environmental health experts includes: 

“Risks to Health and Well-Being From Radio-Frequency Radiation Emitted by Cell Phones and Other Wireless Devices”  published in Frontiers In Public Health documents the science on cancer, impacts to fertility and brain development. 

“Compared with an adult male, a cell phone held against the head of a child exposes deeper brain structures to greater radiation doses per unit volume, and the young, thin skull’s bone marrow absorbs a roughly 10-fold higher local dose. Experimental and observational studies also suggest that men who keep cell phones in their trouser pockets have significantly lower sperm counts and significantly impaired sperm motility and morphology, including mitochondrial DNA damage. Based on the accumulated evidence, we recommend that IARC re-evaluate its 2011 classification of the human carcinogenicity of RFR, and that WHO complete a systematic review of multiple other health effects such as sperm damage. In the interim, current knowledge provides justification for governments, public health authorities, and physicians/allied health professionals to warn the population that having a cell phone next to the body is harmful, and to support measures to reduce all exposures to RFR.”

Cancer epidemiology update, following the 2011 IARC evaluation of radiofrequency electromagnetic fields (Monograph 102) published in Environmental Research confirms wireless radiation as a human carcinogen. 

Absorption of wireless radiation in the child versus adult brain and eye from cell phone conversation or virtual reality published in Environmental Research documents how children’s brains are more exposed to wireless radiation compared to adults. It shows the simulated radiation absorption from cell phones and virtual reality. 

Increased Generational Risk of Colon and Rectal Cancer in Recent Birth Cohorts under Age 40 – the Hypothetical Role of Radiofrequency Radiation from Cell Phones published in the Annals of Gastroenterol Digestive Disorders asserts that the staggering rise in colorectal cancers could be due to cell phones in pockets. 

A meta-analysis of in vitro exposures to weak radiofrequency radiation exposure from mobile phones (1990–2015) and Lessons learned from the application of machine learning to studies on plant response to radio-frequency published in Environmental Research. 


Cancer incidence is rising among children and young adults. The latest U.S. Annual Report to the Nation on the Status of Cancer (a collaborative effort among the American Cancer Society, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the National Cancer Institute, part of the National Institutes of Health; and the North American Association of Central Cancer Registries) published in Journal of the National Cancer Institute found higher overall cancer incidence rates in children and young adults in almost all racial/ethnic groups, with increasing trends for the most common cancer types among children including leukemia, brain and other nervous system cancers, and lymphoma. 


In November 2020 a systematic review and meta-analysis of case-control studies by (Choi et al., 2020), “Cellular Phone Use and Risk of Tumors: Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis”, was published in Environmental Research and Public Health. The authors found evidence that linked cellular phone use to increased tumor risk. The meta-analysis established that 1,000 or more hours of cell phone use, or about 17 minutes per day over 10 years, was associated with a statistically significant 60% increase in brain tumor risk.


In their paper “Genetic susceptibility may modify the association between cell phone use and thyroid cancer: A population-based case-control study in Connecticut” published in Environmental Research (Luo et al., 2020), the Yale researchers with support from the American Cancer Society found cell phone use was significantly associated with thyroid cancer in people with a type of common genetic variation. The association increased as cell phone use duration and frequency increased. The authors conclude that their findings “provide more evidence for RFR carcinogenic group classification.” 


Children are proportionally more exposed to RF-EMF than adults because their brain tissue is more conductive, their skulls are thinner, and their bodies are smaller. Children are known to be at greater risk than adults when exposed to any carcinogen because of their rapidly dividing cells. Because the average latency time between first exposure and diagnosis of a tumor can be decades, tumors induced in children from RFR may not be diagnosed until adulthood. Even more importantly, children and the developing fetus are more vulnerable to RFR because their brains and organs are still developing and more sensitive. Research over the last two years has added critical new science on children’s vulnerability to health impacts from RFR and supports the acute need to reduce exposure to children. 

The Environmental Working Group published a landmark study in Environmental Health analyzing the findings of increased tumors and heart damage from the National Toxicology Program study and concluded that FCC limits should be strengthened by 200 to 400 times to protect children according to current risk assessment guidelines (Uche, 2021).  


The FCC’s current FCC radiofrequency radiation (RFR) emissions limits apply to human exposures.They do not address wildlife, plants or trees. Birds perch and nest on cell towers. Bats and bees and other airborne species occupy air space in close proximity to transmitting cell antennas. Wireless network densification increases RFR levels (El-Hajj & Naous, 2020) and with over 800,000 new cell sites projected for the 5G buildout, environmental effects need to be properly examined because ambient RFR is increasing in wildlife habitat. 

A landmark three-part research review on effects to wildlife was published in Reviews on Environmental Health in 2021 by U.S experts, including former U.S. Fish and Wildlife senior biologist Albert Manville. The authors reviewed and cited more than 1,200 scientific references. These experts concluded that the evidence was adequate to trigger urgent regulatory action. The review found adverse biological effects to wildlife from even very low intensity non-ionizing radiation emissions at multiple orders of magnitude below current FCC-allowed levels (Levitt et al., 2021a, Levitt et al., 2021b, Levitt et al., 2021c)

In May 2021, Spanish biologist Alfonso Balmori published “Electromagnetic radiation as an emerging driver factor for the decline of insects” in Science of The Total Environment. Balmori found that electromagnetic radiation threatens insect biodiversity worldwide. He documents the sufficient evidence of effects of non-thermal, non-ionizing radiation on insects, at well below the limits allowed by FCC guidelines, and warns that action must be taken now before significant new deployment of new technologies (like with 5G) is undertaken. He cautions that the loss of insect diversity and abundance will likely provoke cascading effects on food webs and ecosystem services. 


Environmental Research
published “A meta-analysis of in vitro exposures to weak radiofrequency radiation exposure from mobile phones (1990–2015)” describing 1127 experimental observations in cell-based in vitro models on RFR. It found less differentiated cells such as epithelium and spermatozoa are more sensitive to RF (Halgamuge et al., 2020).  

Several reviews on RFR impacts to sperm and reproduction were published over the last two years analyzing the body of evidence. A systematic review and meta-analysis (Sungjoon et al., 2021) evaluated 18 studies and found exposure to mobile phones is associated with reduced sperm motility, viability and concentration. (Yu et al., 2021) found mobile phone RFR exposure could decrease the motility and viability of mature human sperm in vitro and the pooled results of animal studies showed that mobile phone RF-EMR exposure could suppress sperm motility and viability. A systematic review on the effects of RFR to male reproductive hormones (Maluin et al., 2021) found that wireless can impact testosterone. The authors detail how testes are one of the most vulnerable organs to RF-EMR. Testicular tissues are more susceptible to oxidative stress due to a high rate of cell division and mitochondrial oxygen consumption.  

(Okechukwu, 2020) reviewed human and animal studies published from 2003 to 2020 investigating RFR from cell phones and male fertility, publishing their findings “Does the Use of Mobile Phone Affect Male Fertility? A Mini-Review” in Journal of Human Reproductive Sciences. They found evidence in both animal and human spermatozoa of reduced motility, structural anomalies, and increased oxidative stress due to overproduction of reactive oxygen species after RFR exposure. The authors assert that scrotal hyperthermia and increased oxidative stress might be the key mechanisms through which EMR affects male fertility. 

(Hassanzadeh-Taheri et al., 2021) assessed the effects of cell phone RFR on sperm parameters, DNA fragmentation, and apoptosis in normozoospermic and found higher  apoptotic sperms and DNA fragmentation in the RFR exposed. The authors conclude: “it is recommended to keep the cell phone away from the pelvis as much as possible.” 


(Hasan et al., 2021) found long-term exposure to 2400 MHz 4G impacted the structural integrity of the hippocampus and increased anxiety-like behavior in mice. (Hu et al., 2021) published “Effects of Radiofrequency Electromagnetic Radiation on Neurotransmitters in the Brain” in Frontiers in Public Health, offering a review that summarizes the effects of EMR on the neurotransmitters in the brain. The nervous system is an important target organ system and is sensitive to EMF. They document research that suggests that long-term exposure to EMR may lead to abnormal norepinephrine and epinephrine contents in the brain, metabolic disorders of monoamine neurotransmitters in the brain and excitatory amino acid neurotransmitters in the hippocampus, “which may affect the excitatory-inhibitory balance of neurons, thus causing a decline in learning and memory ability.” The authors also considered the underlying mechanism as “EMR exposure does increase the intracellular calcium and the formation of ROS, which would alter the cellular function eventually and lead to numerous biological effects including neurotransmitter imbalance.” The authors call for more research to clarify effects. 


A systematic review (Bertagna et al., 2021) published in Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences found that neuronal ion channels are particularly affected by EMF exposure. Changes in calcium homeostasis, attributable to the voltage-gated calcium channels, were the most commonly reported result of EMF exposure. EMF effects on the neuronal landscape appear to be diverse and greatly dependent on parameters like the field’s frequency, exposure time, and intrinsic properties of the irradiated tissue, such as the expression of VGCs. The researchers systematically clarify how neuronal ion channels are particularly affected and differentially modulated by EMFs at multiple levels, such as gating dynamics, ion conductance, concentration in the membrane, and gene and protein expression. Ion channels represent a major transducer for EMF-related effects on the CNS.

(Tan et al., 2021) evaluated the acute effects of 2.856 GHz and 1.5 GHz microwaves to male rats and found exposures induced a decline in spatial memory.

(Luo et al., 2021) in their paper “Electromagnetic field exposure-induced depression features could be alleviated by heat acclimation based on remodeling the gut microbiota” published in Ecotoxicology and Environmental Safety share their findings that pulsed electromagnetic fields (2450 MHz) caused gut microbiota and metabolites disturbance similar to depression model. “



More recently published studies demonstrate consistency for the induction of oxidative stress. Oxidative DNA damage can lead to mutations, chromosomal translocations, and genomic instability, which are cellular events that can result in cancer development. Induction of oxidative stress, which is a key characteristic of many human carcinogens including ionizing radiation and asbestos, may also lead to the genotoxicity and carcinogenicity of non-ionizing RFR. Oxidative stress caused by EMFs is thought to be due to the altering of recombination rates of short-lived radical pairs leading to increases in free radical concentrations. Thus, even without causing direct DNA damage, RFR may induce oxidative DNA damage and thereby initiate or promote tumor development.


(Schuermann & Mevissen, 2021) published a major review on oxidative stress, “Manmade Electromagnetic Fields and Oxidative Stress – Biological Effects and Consequences for Health” in International Journal of Molecular Sciences. The authors found increased oxidative stress in the majority of animal studies and cell studies, many with exposures compliant with FCC and ICNIRP regulatory limits. Increased oxidative stress caused by RF-EMF and ELF-EMF were reported in the majority of the animal studies and in more than half of the cell studies. Investigations in Wistar and Sprague-Dawley rats provided consistent evidence for oxidative stress occurring after RF-EMF exposure in the brain and testes and some indication of oxidative stress in the heart. Observations in Sprague-Dawley rats also seem to provide consistent evidence for oxidative stress in the liver and kidneys. “A trend is emerging, which becomes clear even when taking these methodological weaknesses into account, i.e., that EMF exposure, even in the low dose range, may well lead to changes in cellular oxidative balance.” The authors explain that pre-existing conditions like diabetes and neurodegenerative diseases compromise the body’s defense mechanisms, including antioxidant protection processes, and individuals with pre-existing conditions are more likely to experience health effects. Further, very young or old individuals can react less efficiently to oxidative stress. This puts them at greater risk of health impacts.



Major studies using validated experimental protocols published in 2020 and 2021 associate non-ionizing RFR exposure with DNA damage.  

In February 2020, U.S. government scientists published landmark findings of “significant increases in DNA damage” in groups of male mice, female mice and male rats after just 14 to 19 weeks of non-thermal cell phone RFR exposure as part of the large scale National Toxicology Program cell phone animal studies (Smith-Roe et al., 2020). “Evaluation of the genotoxicity of cell phone radiofrequency radiation in male and female rats and mice following subchronic exposure” published in Environmental and Molecular Mutagenesis details the much-anticipated results of the comet assay showing significant increases in DNA damage in the frontal cortex of male mice (both modulations), leukocytes of female mice (CDMA only), and hippocampus of male rats (CDMA only). Increases in DNA damage judged to be equivocal were observed in several other tissues of rats and mice. “In conclusion, these results suggest that exposure to RFR is associated with an increase in DNA damage.” In short, DNA damage was found at non-thermal RFR levels, levels the FCC regulatory limits presume are harmless. 

The authors explain that the NTP studies were designed to evaluate non-thermal effects of cell phone RFR exposure, which meant that body temperature could not change more than 1° C and therefore the NTP scientists considered it unlikely that thermal effects were a confounding factor for these genetic toxicity tests. Thus, this data again adds to the large body of evidence confirming that the assumption that non-ionizing radiation does not cause any adverse health effects other than by heating is wrong. The study is a game changer because the NTP exposures were carefully controlled and NTP studies are considered the gold standard in animal testing. 


In “Genetic effects of non-ionizing electromagnetic fields” published in Electromagnetic Biology and Medicine, (Lai, 2021) reviewed the research on the genetic effects of non-ionizing electromagnetic fields and found many studies reported effects in cells and animals after exposure to EMF at intensities similar to those in the public and occupational environments. Approximately 70% of reviewed studies showed effects including DNA strand breaks, micronucleus formation, and chromosomal structural changes. Lai highlights how the effects are waveform and cell-type specific. 

 Dr. Lai’s findings underscore the complexity of interactions between EMF and biological tissues, and may partially explain why effects were observed in some studies but not others. Lai states it is essential to understand why and how certain wave-characteristics of an EMF are more effective than other characteristics in causing biological effects, and why certain types of cells are more susceptible to EMF effects. Very significantly, Dr. Lai asserts that “there are different biological effects elicited by different EMF wave-characteristics” and this is a critical proof for the existence of non-thermal effects. 

Share Source: Environmental Health Trust