Information on Wireless Telephones and Health

Wireless phones use radio frequency signals to communicate and, therefore, produce low-level radio frequency fields. You may occasionally hear or read media stories about a new report indicating a health risk related to radio frequency from wireless telephones -- or indicating no health risk related to wireless telephones.

It can be difficult to know what to make of the latest media story about a food, drug, or device that is reported to have a bad, good, or no effect on people's health. And it seems that those stories often are contradicted by later stories.

We can learn something from the approach taken by public health and regulatory officials who have experience in determining what the reports of scientific studies and reviews tell us about various health concerns. They do not look at only the latest reports. They evaluate and weigh all of the scientific reports together, paying particular attention to those that are of high quality and that have been confirmed by other independent scientific reports.

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has broad and continuing authority to regulate wireless telephone communication systems, and that includes authority to protect people's health and safety when using them. The FCC addresses the subject of wireless telephones and health on its website. A key question the FCC asks:

      "Is there any evidence that cell phones cause cancer?"

The FCC's answer:

     "There is no scientific evidence that proves that wireless phone usage can lead to cancer or… other problems . . . ."

The FCC has set limits on the levels of radio frequency (RF) fields that can be produced by wireless telephones to ensure they remain at safe levels. As the FCC points out on its website:

     "All wireless phones sold in the United States meet government requirements that limit their RF energy to safe levels."

Every wireless telephone AT&T sells must comply with the FCC's limits.

The FCC's website also contains a detailed guide to "Wireless Devices and Health Concerns" that includes a discussion of more recent scientific developments and explains how the FCC set its exposure limits.

For those who remain concerned, the FCC also lists some simple steps people can take to reduce their exposure to radio frequency fields from wireless telephones. The FCC says:

Even though no scientific evidence currently establishes a definite link between wireless device use and cancer or other illnesses, and even though all cell phones must meet established federal standards for exposure to RF energy, some consumers are skeptical of the science and/or the analysis that underlies the FCC's RF exposure guidelines. Accordingly, some parties recommend taking measures to further reduce exposure to RF energy. The FCC does not endorse the need for these practices, but provides information on some simple steps that you can take to reduce your exposure to RF energy from cell phones. For example, wireless devices only emit RF energy when you are using them and, the closer the device is to you, the more energy you will absorb.

Some measures to reduce your RF exposure include:

  • Use a speakerphone, earpiece or headset to reduce proximity to the head (and thus exposure). While wired earpieces may conduct some energy to the head and wireless earpieces also emit a small amount of RF energy, both wired and wireless earpieces remove the greatest source of RF energy (the cell phone) from proximity to the head and thus can greatly reduce total exposure to the head.
  • Increase the distance between wireless devices and your body.
  • Consider texting rather than talking - but don't text while you are driving.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) also has authority and expertise with respect to radio frequency fields and health, and has provided the FCC its expert views. The FDA concludes on its website:

     "The weight of scientific evidence has not linked cell phones with any health problems."

There are some people, however, who believe that radio frequency fields from wireless phones pose a health risk. Although AT&T does not endorse those views, we understand that some of our customers may want to know about them, so here are some sources of different views:

  • "Cell Phones: Invisible Hazards in the Wireless Age," Dr. George Carlo and Martin Schram, Carroll & Graf Publishers, Inc., 2001.

Even though a lot of research has already been done on wireless phones, AT&T supports additional high quality research that will add even more to the extensive scientific knowledge available about radio frequency fields and health.

If you want more information on this subject, we encourage you to read all of the information provided by the FCC and the FDA on their websites (links to them are provided above).