Mobile phone industry responds to IARC classification of radio frequency

The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) has classified exposure to radio frequency electromagnetic fields, which are emitted by mobile phones, wireless devices, radio, television and radar, as possibly carcinogenic to humans.



The World Health Organization (WHO) and health agencies will now assess the IARC classification and provide further advice on any necessary action.




IARC, which is part of the WHO, has classified radiofrequency electromagnetic fields as possibly carcinogenic to humans (Group 2B), based on an increased risk for glioma, a malignant type of brain cancer.



IARC said in its statement:


The evidence was reviewed critically, and overall evaluated as being limited among users of wireless telephones for glioma and acoustic neuroma, and inadequate to draw conclusions for other types of cancers. The evidence from the occupational and environmental exposures mentioned above was similarly judged inadequate.


IARC concluded that there could be some risk, and therefore there was a need to keep a close watch for a link between cell phones and cancer risk.



The Chief Executive Officer of the Australian Mobile Telecommunications Association (AMTA), Chris Althaus, said: “In understanding the implications of this assessment, it should be remembered that wireless communications equipment is designed to operate within international and national exposure limits, which already have substantial safety margins built into them.”


He said following IARC’s evaluation the World Health Organization (WHO) and national health agencies would review the body of science on cancer and other health issues related to human exposure to radio frequency fields and consider if public advice or action was required to reduce any potential risks.




Mr Althaus said: “After reviewing the available scientific evidence, IARC has assessed it is possible that RF electromagnetic fields could be a cancer hazard. However, IARC did not quantify the risk or likelihood of cancer. The IARC classification suggests that a hazard is possible but not likely.”




Industry places the highest priority on safety and highlights that if people are concerned the WHO provides the following information on how to reduce mobile phone exposure:


In addition to using “hands-free” devices, which keep mobile phones away from the head and body during phone calls, exposure is also reduced by limiting the number and length of calls. Using the phone in areas of good reception also decreases exposure as it allows the phone to transmit at reduced power.


IARC has clearly signalled the need for ongoing research and the industry supports well-conducted and independent research, which will help clarify any uncertainty identified by the IARC evaluation.


See attached AMTA information sheet, which lists the more than 900 substances and agents that have been classified by IARC.


For more information contact Randal Markey, AMTA Communications Manager, (02) 6239 6555 or 0421 240 550



Download the AMTA Information Poster – IARC Classifications & Examples


 Download AMTA Briefing Pack here.