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U-Md. Researchers Skeptical of Cell Phone Radiation Studies

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE  June 3, 2011

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COLLEGE PARK, Md. - University of Maryland researchers in the A. James Clark School of Engineering have expressed concerns regarding the validity of recent findings announced in the Journal of the American Medical Association suggesting that radiation from cell phones can produce biological changes in the brain and a World Health Organization pronouncement classifying radiation from cell phones as a possible carcinogen. Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering Christopher Davis and Senior Research Scientist Quirino Balzano co-wrote a letter to the editor of the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) on this subject that was published in the most recent issue of the journal, Vol. 35, No. 20, dated May 25, 2011.

In the letter, Davis and Balzano, who each has more than 35 years of research experience in the biological effects of wireless telecommunications technology, offered a critique of a paper by N.D. Volkow, D. Tomasi, and G.J. Wang, titled "Effects of cell phone radiofrequency signal exposure on brain glucose metabolism," that had been published in a previous issue of JAMA. Davis and Balzano pointed out that the highest temperature elevations that occur in the brain during cell phone use as a result of radiofrequency fields from the cell phone are on the order of 0.1°C to 0.2°C, and that these temperature elevations are smaller than those resulting from physical activity. They also argued that the study did not evaluate the exposure of the brain to the fields from the cell phone correctly, so a causal relation between the radiofrequency signal and the effect detected by Volkow et al. has no valid experimental support.

Last fall, Davis gave a talk on the absence of a link between cell phone radiation and brain cancer at a National Capitol Area Skeptics (NCAS) meeting. Video from the lecture can be seen at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xJcC7arI7HY

In 2010, the researchers published an article in the Bioelectromagnetics journal titled “Absence of Nonlinear Responses in Cells and Tissues Exposed to RF Energy at Mobile Phone Frequencies Using a Doubly Resonant Cavity,” which included findings from an extensive joint study between the University of Maryland and the British Health Protection Agency that found no causal relationship between cell phone signal exposure and any form of tissue interaction except very small heating. The complete article can be found at: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/bem.20597/full

For more information, or for an interview request, please contact Ted Knight at teknight@umd.edu or 301-405-3596; or Rebecca Copeland at rebeccac@umd.edu or 301-405-6602; or Melissa Corley at mcorley@umd.edu or 301-405-6501.

About the A. James Clark School of Engineering

The University of Maryland’s A. James Clark School of Engineering is a premier program, ranked among the top 20 in the world. Located just a few miles from Washington, D.C., the Clark School is at the center of a constellation of high-tech companies and federal laboratories, offering students and faculty access to unique professional opportunities.

Our broad spectrum of academic programs, including the world’s only accredited undergraduate fire protection engineering program, is complemented by a vibrant entrepreneurial ecosystem, early hands-on educational experiences, and participation in national and international competitions.

The Clark School is leading research advancements in aerospace, bioengineering, robotics, nanotechnology, disaster resilience, energy and sustainability, and cybersecurity. From the universal product code to satellite radio, SMS text messaging to the implantable insulin pump, our students, faculty, and alumni are engineering life-changing innovations for millions. Learn more at www.eng.umd.edu.