If you think your cellphone is safe, have you considered why you believe that? Is it a fact or is it based on carefully crafted messages that you’ve read or heard?

For the past few decades, the telecom wireless industry and its enthusiasts have heralded cellphones as the greatest achievement of the late 20th and early 21st centuries. But as their use soars, scientists worldwide worry about their hazards and have produced over 2,000 studies that tell a darker tale. They warn that the devices and antennas that power them expose humans and wildlife to nonionizing low-frequency electromagnetic fields—also called cellphone, microwave, or radio-frequency radiation. These studies indicate that when people and animals are exposed, they can develop brain, thyroid gland, prostate gland, acoustic nerve, and breast tumors, and other diseases.

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Not surprisingly, the industry argues this type of radiation is safe, because it is unlike the high-frequency ionizing radiation used in X-rays, which can directly damage DNA.

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However, the industry’s message is so widely accepted that contradictory information is routinely discarded. One scientist (who asked for anonymity) told me he recently was asked to advise a state committee about 5G guidelines. “When I tried to tell them about the hazards from the hundreds of thousands or millions of new antennas that will be installed, they weren’t interested.

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Compromised watchdogs

How does industry carry it off? First, the watchdog agencies continually reaffirm the industry’s message, and because of their authority, they’re considered objective. Yet their conflicts of interest are pervasive. For example, in 2013, President Obama named Tom Wheeler, the CEO of the main trade group, the CTIA, to chair the FCC. In a 2016 talk, Wheeler said, “We won’t wait for standards to be developed. . . . Instead, we will rely on the private sector to produce them.” On 5G, he told doubters to “stay out of the way. . . . Tens of billions of dollars in economic activity . . . is what’s important.”  SNIP

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