Marketing Truth or Lies? The Facts and Science on Cell Phone Radiation – Environmental Health Trust


Superbowl ads show Dolly Parton with a cell phone in her bra and Jim Carey with his head on the Wi-Fi router despite the facts that these positions violate manufacturer warnings.

An ever growing body of evidence shows that cell phone and wireless radiation – at even very low levels-  can harm our health in a number of different ways.  There is no doubt that there are harmful biological effects, documented by scientific research.  In 2011 the World Health Organization (WHO) classified cell phone radiation as a Class 2 B Carcinogen “possibly carcinogenic to humans”—in the same category as lead, engine exhaust, DDT, and jet fuel. The evidence has increased since then.  Several publications assert that the current body of evidence has significantly increased and cell phone radiation is proven Group 1 human carcinogen (Miller et al 2018, Peleg et al 2018 Carlberg and Hardell 2017, Belpomme et al 2018,)  A Yale study funded by the American Cancer Society found elevated thyroid cancer risk in heavy cell phone users with specific genetic susceptibilities (Luo et al. 2020).

Watch Theodora Scarato, Executive Director of Environmental Health Trust present to Henley University students on marketing, cell phones and 5G.

Fine Print warnings

All cell phones have fine print instructions hidden deep in online manuals that instruct users to avoid direct contact.  In fact phones could violate U.S. government safety limits for human exposure to RF radiation -up to 11 times when placed against the body.  For example, the Google Pixel 5a (5G) safety information states, “Keep the phone away from your body to meet the distance requirement.” 

EHT has a webpage with numerous examples of the Fine Print Warnings for the top phone models and other wireless devices. Manufacturers actually specify that the phone should be kept at least 5 mm to 1.5 cm distance from the body.

The California Department of Health released an advisory on how to reduce cell phone radiation stating, “Carry your cell phone in a backpack, briefcase, or purse; NOT in a pocket, bra or belt holster.”

Published case reports document young women developing unusual breast cancers located directly underneath the antennas of where their phones were stored, directly where they placed their cell phones in their bra. A 2020 case control study found that women who used phones close to their bodies head up to five times more breast cancer than others

References for Presentation

Harvard Investigative Report

Investigate Europe’s Two Part Investigation on 5G



Research Studies 

European Parliament requested a research report  “Health Impact of 5G” released in July 2021 concluding that commonly used RFR frequencies (450 to 6000 MHz) are probably carcinogenic for humans and clearly affect male fertility with possible adverse effects on the development of embryos, fetuses and newborns. 

A landmark three part 2021 research review on effects to wildlife published in Reviews on Environmental Health by U.S experts including former U.S. Fish and Wildlife senior biologist Albert Manville states current science should trigger urgent regulatory action citing more than 1,200 scientific references which found adverse biological effects to wildlife from even very low intensities of non ionizing radiation with findings of  impacts to orientation and migration, reproduction, mating, nest, den building and survivorship (Levitt et al., 2021a, Levitt et al., 2021b Levitt et al., 2021c). 

Numerous scientists, including senior advisors to the World Health Organization, have concluded that if cell phone radiation were evaluated at this time, it would be considered a probable, if not fully confirmed human carcinogen (See Carlberg and Hardell, 2017; Directorate-General for Parliamentary Research Services (European Parliament) & Belpoggi, 2021; Miller et al., 2018; Melnick, 2019; Portier, 2021).

  • Over 200 scientists who are experts in electromagnetic radiation have signed the EMF Scientists Appeal which states “numerous recent scientific publications have shown that EMF affects living organisms at levels well below most international and national guidelines. Effects include increased cancer risk, cellular stress, increase in harmful free radicals, genetic damages, structural and functional changes of the reproductive system, learning and memory deficits, neurological disorders, and negative impacts on general well-being in humans. Damage goes well beyond the human race, as there is growing evidence of harmful effects to both plant and animal life.” 

Research Studies 

  • A review on real world exposure to 5G published in Toxicology Letters found that 5 G will have systemic effects as well as adverse effects to the skin and eyes (Kostoff et al., 2020). 
  • A systematic review and meta-analysis of case-control studies found evidence that linked cellular phone use to increased tumor risk (Choi et al., 2020). 
  • Yale researchers published a study supported by the American Cancer Society linking thyroid cancer to cell phone use in people with a type of common genetic variation (Luo et al., 2020). 
  • A meta analysis of 300 peer-reviewed scientific publications (1990-2015) describing 1127 experimental observations in cell-based in vitro models on RFR published in Environmental Research found less differentiated cells such as epithelium and spermatozoa are more sensitive to RF (Halgamuge et al., 2020).
  • A 4G study found kidney inflammation and damage to the testes in mice (Hasan  et al., 2021). 
  • The Switzerland Institute of the Environment expert published review found increased oxidative stress in the majority of animal studies and cell studies with exposures within regulatory limits (Schuermann et al., 2021).
  • Research (Hassanzadeh- Taheri et al.,2022) and systematic reviews find harm to sperm (Yu et al., 2021, Kim et al., 2021, Negi and Singh 2021)
  • A review on impacts to the thyroid found RFR might be associated alterations in thyroid hormone levels, with a possible disruption in the hypothalamic-pituitary-thyroid axis (Alkayyali et al., 2021)
  • 2400 MHz affects the structural integrity of the hippocampus in mice (Hasan  et al., 2021). 
  • A review summarizes the effects of EMR on the neurotransmitters in the brain (Hu et al., 2021). 
  • Review on RFR and the brain published in the International Journal of Radiation Biology found the threshold for an effect in EEG is far lower than the level deemed safe by the U.S. FCC (Hinrikus et al. 2021).  
  • A systematic review on the effects of RFR to male reproductive hormones found that wireless can decrease testosterone (Maluin  et al, 2021)
  • A review on the genetic effects of non-ionizing electromagnetic fields found DNA strand breaks, micronucleus formation, and chromosomal structural changes (Lai 2021). 
  • A systematic review published in the Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences found that neuronal ion channels are particularly affected (Bertagna et al  2021).
  • A review in the International Journal of Oncology describes how EMFs lead to dysfunction of ion channels which lead to reactive oxygen species/free radical overproduction providing “ a complete picture” of  how exposure may indeed lead to DNA damage and related pathologies, including cancer,” (Panagopoulos et al. 2021). 
  • A 2021 review (Balmori 2021) found “sufficient evidence on the damage caused by electromagnetic radiation” to insects to state that “electromagnetic radiation should be considered seriously as a complementary driver for the dramatic decline in insects, acting in synergy with agricultural intensification, pesticides, invasive species and climate change.” The paper concludes that “the precautionary principle should be applied before any new deployment (such 5G) is considered.” 
  • Exposure of Insects to Radio-Frequency Electromagnetic Fields from 2 to 120 GHz” published in Scientific Reports is the first study to investigate how insects (including the Western honeybee) absorb the higher frequencies (2 GHz to 120 GHz) to be used in the 4G/5G rollout. The scientific simulations showed increases in absorbed power between 3% to 370% when the insects were exposed to the frequencies. Researchers concluded, “This could lead to changes in insect behaviour, physiology, and morphology over time….” (Thielens et al., 2018)  
  • In 2018, the U.S. National Toxicology Program (NTP) found “clear evidence of cancer” and DNA damage in a large-scale animal study designed to evaluate the effects of long term exposure (U.S. National Toxicology Program, 2018). 
  •  Research analyzing the NTP findings conclude U.S safety limits need to be strengthened by 200 to 400 times to protect children according to current risk assessment guidelines (Uche & Naidenko ., 2021). 

International Policies and Actions

Internationally governments have policies and regulations in place to inform the public and reduce exposures. Numerous scientists, medical and public health professionals have issued appeals and recommendations on the need to reduce exposure to electromagnetic radiation and pause the proliferation of new untested networks (EMF Scientists Appeal, 2015, Di Ciaula, 2018, Mallery-Blythe, 2020, Nyberg & Hardell, 2017)

  • Switzerland, Italy, China, Russia, India, Israel and several European countries have far more stringent cell tower radiation emission limits compared to the US FCC and many define homes, schools and kindergartens as “sensitive areas” (Stam, 2017). 
  • Over a dozen countries have clear recommendations that people reduce exposure to cell phone radiation, especially for children (Redmayne, 2016, EHT, 2021). 
  • France has several policies including: limiting Wi-Fi in classrooms, banning the sale of cell phones designed for young children, banning advertisements aimed at children under 14 years old. Consumers are informed with instructions to use speakerphone, limit children’s use and “keep away from the belly of pregnant women and lower abdomen of adolescents.”
  • Cyprus and French Polynesia have multimedia public education campaigns (EHT, 2021). 
  • A major hospital in Cyprus removed Wi-Fi from the pediatric Intensive Care Unit and Neonatal units (Cyprus Committee on Environment and Children’s Health, 2019). 

Cell Tower Radiation 

  • A 2017 study evaluated effects in the blood of individuals living near mobile phone base stations and found higher exposures linked to changes in the blood that are considered biomarkers predictive of cancer. 
  • A 2018 study found school-aged adolescents exposed to higher levels of RFR exposure had delayed fine and gross motor skills, spatial working memory, and attention in comparison to those exposed to lower RFR levels. 
  • A 2015 study of elementary students found higher Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus in students exposed to higher levels of RFR. 
  • Falcioni 2018 published in Environmental Research exposed rats to RF comparable to cell tower RF levels and found increased cancers. 
  • A 2020 study considering liability issues for wireless companies recommends that “although direct causation of negative human health effects from RFR from cellular phone base stations has not been finalized, there is already enough medical and scientific evidence to warrant long-term liability concerns for companies deploying cellular phone towers. In order to protect cell phone tower firms from the ramifications of the failed paths of other industries that have caused unintended human harm (e.g. tobacco)” the author recommends, “voluntarily restrictions can be made on the placement of cel- lular phone base stations within 500 m of schools and hospitals.”  
  • A 2021 study published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health Found higher RFR cell tower radiation exposures linked to increased mortality for all cancers including breast, cervix, lung, and esophagus cancers. 
  • A 2022 study created heat maps of (cell tower) RF radiation  measurements from wireless antennas in Stockholm. “With the development of mobile communications technologies and the widespread use of wireless services the exposure will continue to increase with substantially higher exposure levels and also ever increasing frequency bands, even though several research reports indicate health risks. These risks are relevant to those people working or living in the highly exposed places – in this study they are 1) people living in the apartments across the street from the antennas, 2) workers of the shops across the street and beneath the antennas.”

More research on 5G found here

Organizations Working on EMFs

Conflicts on Interest