The World Health Organization (WHO) has published a number of factsheets providing information and guidance on electromagnetic fields (EMF) and public health.
Considering short- and long-term effects
The June 2011 fact sheet considers both the short-term and long-term effects of using mobile devices, and concludes that:
“To date, no adverse health effects have been established as being caused by mobile phone use.”
In the short term, the WHO states that:
“At the frequencies used by mobile phones, most of the energy is absorbed by the skin and other superficial tissues, resulting in negligible temperature rise in the brain or any other organs of the body”.
“To date, research does not suggest any consistent evidence of adverse health effects from exposure to radiofrequency fields at levels below those that cause tissue heating. Further, research has not been able to provide support for a causal relationship between exposure to electromagnetic fields and self-reported symptoms, or “electromagnetic hypersensitivity.”
In the long term, the WHO states that:
“Epidemiological research examining potential long-term risks from radiofrequency exposure has mostly looked for an association between brain tumours and mobile phone use. However, because many cancers are not detectable until many years after the interactions that led to the tumour, and since mobile phones were not widely used until the early 1990s, epidemiological studies at present can only assess those cancers that become evident within shorter time periods. However, results of animal studies consistently show no increased cancer risk for long-term exposure to radiofrequency fields.”
The fact sheet also references the first combined findings of the INTERPHONE study, [links to http://www.iarc.fr/en/media-centre/pr/2010/pdfs/pr200_E.pdf ] a major piece of research into the possible health effects of mobiles phones. The study, published in May 2010, concludes:
“The international pooled analysis of data gathered from 13 participating countries found no increased risk of glioma or meningioma with mobile phone use of more than 10 years.”
In response to this study, the WHO concludes:
“While an increased risk of brain tumors is not established, the increasing use of mobile phones and the lack of data for mobile phone use over time periods longer than 15 years warrant further research of mobile phone use and brain cancer risk. In particular, with the recent popularity of mobile phone use among younger people, and therefore a potentially longer lifetime of exposure, WHO has promoted further research on this group. Several studies investigating potential health effects in children and adolescents are underway.”
Understanding base station and wireless technologies' impacts
The conclusion of the WHO fact sheet on Base stations and wireless technologies, published in May 2006, is that:
“Considering the very low exposure levels and research results collected to date, there is no convincing scientific evidence that the weak RF signals from base stations and wireless networks cause adverse health effects.”
Conclusions from the WHO
"In the area of biological effects and medical applications of non-ionizing radiation approximately 25,000 articles have been published over the past 30 years. Despite the feeling of some people that more research needs to be done, scientific knowledge in this area is now more extensive than for most chemicals. Based on a recent in-depth review of the scientific literature, the WHO concluded that current evidence does not confirm the existence of any health consequences from exposure to low level electromagnetic fields. However, some gaps in knowledge about biological effects exist and need further research."