A federal agency based in Research Triangle Park is beginning a study to determine if cell-phone radiation causes cancer or other health hazards.
The National Toxicology Program expects to finish the study in 2012 and present its findings by 2014, associate director John Bucher told a Senate subcommittee in Washington today. The program is part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
The study will test laboratory animals using chambers designed to simulate radiation exposures of cell-phone users, Bucher said. The rodents will be exposed to radiation for up to 20 hours per day.
"With so many [cell-phone] users, this could translate into a potentially significant public health problem should the use of these devices even slightly increase the risk of adverse health effects," Bucher wrote in a prepared statement for the subcommittee.
He said that children may be "potentially" at greater risk, Bloomberg News reported. "Better data are needed to establish any potential risks to humans."
Cell-phone companies point out that studies indicate that wireless devices pose no health threat. But lawmakers are calling for further research.
Some researchers believe the low doses of radiation may cause brain cancer or other health problems, Senator Tom Harkin, an Iowa Democrat, told the hearing.
Harkin said that he was "reminded of this nation's experience with cigarettes," Bloomberg News reported. If more people had heeded early warnings, "many lives would have been saved," he said.
To read Bucher's prepared testimony, visit the National Toxicology Program online and click on the link under "Latest News."