One Click Note: As head of the Mobile Phone Research Unit in the UK, psychiatrist Professor Simon Wessely is set to be deeply embarrassed by these WHO findings. A long-time richly remunerated proponent of big business damage limitation for the government, military defence and industry in its many guises, let's all watch Wessely wriggle on this one.
By Kendra Srivastava
Jun 02, 2011
The Supreme Court is debating whether to allow lawsuits against cell phone companies over health issues, just days after a report warns consumers of the possible link between phone use and brain tumors.
The Supreme Court today asked the Justice Department to weigh in on whether the Court should hear a formerly dismissed class action lawsuit against 19 telecoms. The suit accuses companies like AT&T and Nokia downplayed the dangers of cell phone radiation and failed to offset health damages by neglecting to pack headsets along with new phones.
A Philadelphia circuit court of appeals earlier told the lead plaintiff, Francis Farina, that her suit was discarded since it implied a different definition of safe radio frequency radiation than the FCC's. Her case is not isolated -- so far, federal regulations have prevented all state-based, anti-cell phone company suits from going anywhere.
Farina's lawyer Allison Zieve says judges regularly dismiss such suits as “silly,” but she believes a recent study by the World Health Organization, or WHO, linking cell phones to brain cancer will back her case.
"I hope that it the WHO study signals to the Justice Department that it's a potentially significant case and they should take it seriously," Zieve said.
As of yesterday, the WHO now categorizes mobile phones as “possible carcinogens,” putting phones in the same bucket as lead, chloroform, and even coffee. Thirty-one scientists from 14 countries combined independent study results and tentatively concluded cell phones have a hand in causing brain tumors. They need more research to confirm their findings, but the Environmental Health Trust, among other scientific organizations, corroborates the WHO's conclusion.
Opposing the WHO's statement is the Cellular Telecommunications Industry Association. CTIA represents nearly every major cell phone carrier and manufacturer on the market, including several software companies with mobile offerings like Apple and Google.
CTIA vice president John Walls insists scientists have not conclusively proven cell phones cause cancer, thereby negating any lawsuits that would claim otherwise.
"Based on previous assessments of the scientific evidence, the Federal Communications Commission has concluded that there's no scientific evidence that proves that wireless phone usage can lead to cancer,'" said Walls on Tuesday.
At some point, the court will weigh in on whether cell phones pose a significant enough risk to warrant further regulation. Whatever the outcome, either plaintiff like Farina or the CTIA will end up sorely disappointed by its decision.
* Mobile phones carcinogenic say World Health Organisation experts
Martin Beckford, Daily Telegraph