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Early Study Showing DNA Damage from Cell Phone Use Suppressed?

Throughout the years in RF Report and many years ago in RF Current I have reported on scientific research on the impact of exposure to RF. Last week I came across an interesting article in the March 2005 University of Washington alumni magazine. In the cover story Wake-up Call, Rob Harrill, engineering writer in UW's College of Engineering describes the response to a study by Dr. Henry Lai, a research professor in UW's Department of Bioengineering and colleague Narendra "N.P." Singh showing that microwave radiation could cause DNA damage in brain cells. The study was published in a 1995 issue of Bioelectromagnetics and pitted Dr. Lai against the powerful and growing cell phone industry.

According to the UW magazine article, the National Institute of Health (NIH) responded by saying he had misused his research funding. Although this scared him, Dr. Lai explained to NIH how the research fell within the parameters of the grant and NIH accepted the explanation, assuring him all was well.

The cell phone industry responded by saying the study was not very relevant because it didn't use the same frequencies or power cell phones use. Lai answered that effects at one frequency could happen at another and the exposure level he used was lower than what one can get from a cell phone.

Rob Harrill's excellent articles goes into more detail about how the cell phone industry responded to the study, including attempts to get Lai and Singh fired from the University of Washington.

Has the atmosphere for studies like those by Lai and Singh changed in the last ten years? Does Rob Harrill or his family use cell phones? For answers to these questions, take a few minutes to read Wake-up Call. For more information on the field of bioelectromagnetics, visit and its publications page.