CDC under the spotlight
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has found itself the centre of scrutiny following revelations by the New York Times, (1) which obtained 500 pages of internal CDC emails, relating to the CDC’s advice about mobile phone use on its website.
In 2014 the CDC published on its website precautionary advice for mobile phone use, including the statement ‘We recommend caution in cell phone use.’ This advice was supported by CDC’s Director, Dr Christopher Portier, who was a member of the IARC team which classified radiofrequency radiation from mobile phones as a Class 2B (‘possible’) carcinogen.
The 1 January article revealed that, after the CDC published its precautionary advice, it was questioned about the changes by officials and asked whether states might face litigation for allowing the use of phones in schools and libraries. Shortly after the CDC published its precautionary amendments, it withdrew them.
The Environmental Health Trust, (2) which reviewed the CDC emails, reported that the CDC obtained assistance to rework its mobile phone advice from Dr Kenneth Foster, who has links with the mobile phone industry.
The amended webpage:
- removed the statement ‘We recommend caution in cell phone use’;
- removed a recommendation to keep mobile phones away from pacemakers;
- removed reference that children may have a higher risk of developing problems in the future if mobile phone radiation does cause health problems;
- did not report the IARC classification of mobile phone radiation as possibly carcinogenic.
1. New York Times, 1.1.16, http://www.nytimes.com/2016/01/02/technology/at-cdc-a-debate-behind-recommendations-on-cellphone-risk.html2. ehtrust.org