Executive Summary

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) of the Department of Health and Human Services asked the National Academies to organize a workshop of national and international experts to identify research needs and gaps in knowledge of biological effects and adverse health outcomes of exposure to radiofrequency (RF) energy from wireless communications devices. To accomplish this task, the National Academies appointed a seven member committee to plan the workshop.1 Following the workshop, the committee was asked to issue a report based on the presentations and discussions at the workshop that identified research needs and current gaps in knowledge. The committee’s task did not include the evaluation of health effects or the generation of recommendations relating to how the identified research needs should be met.

For the purposes of this report, the committee defines research needs as research that will increase our understanding of the potential adverse effects of RF energy on humans. Research gaps are defined as areas of research where the committee judges that scientific data that have potential value are presently lacking, but that closing of these gaps is either ongoing and results should be awaited before judgments are made on further research needs, or the gaps are not judged by the committee to be of as high a priority with respect to directly addressing health concerns at this time.

The research needs and gaps identified by the committee are presented in abbreviated form in the report Summary and in more detail in the text.

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Committee on Identification of Research Needs Relating to Potential Biological or Adverse Health Effects of Wireless Communications Devices.



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OCR for page 1
Executive Summary The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) of the Department of Health and Human Services asked the National Academies to organize a workshop of national and international experts to identify research needs and gaps in knowledge of biological effects and adverse health outcomes of exposure to radiofrequency (RF) energy from wireless communications devices. To accomplish this task, the National Academies appointed a seven member committee to plan the workshop.1 Following the workshop, the committee was asked to issue a report based on the presentations and dis- cussions at the workshop that identified research needs and current gaps in knowledge. The committee’s task did not include the evaluation of health effects or the generation of recommendations relating to how the identified research needs should be met. For the purposes of this report, the committee defines research needs as research that will increase our understanding of the potential adverse effects of RF energy on humans. Research gaps are defined as areas of research where the committee judges that scientific data that have potential value are presently lacking, but that closing of these gaps is either ongoing and results should be awaited before judgments are made on further research needs, or the gaps are not judged by the committee to be of as high a priority with respect to directly addressing health concerns at this time. The research needs and gaps identified by the committee are presented in abbreviated form in the report Summary and in more detail in the text. 1 Committee on Identification of Research Needs Relating to Potential Biological or Adverse Health Effects of Wireless Communications Devices. 

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 IDENTIFICATION OF RESEARCH NEEDS These needs and gaps are committee judgments derived from the workshop presentations and discussions, and the report does not necessarily reflect the views of the FDA, individual workshop speakers, or other workshop participants. The committee judged that important research needs included, in order of appearance in the text, the following: • Characterization of exposure to juveniles, children, pregnant women, and fetuses from personal wireless devices and RF fields from base station antennas. • Characterization of radiated electromagnetic fields for typical multiple- element base station antennas and exposures to affected individuals. • Characterization of the dosimetry of evolving antenna configura- tions for cell phones and text messaging devices. • Prospective epidemiologic cohort studies of children and pregnant women. • Epidemiologic case-control studies and childhood cancers, includ- ing brain cancer. • Prospective epidemiologic cohort studies of adults in a general population and retrospective cohorts with medium to high occupational exposures. • Human laboratory studies that focus on possible adverse effects on electroencephalography2 activity and that include a sufficient number of subjects. • Investigation of the effect of RF electromagnetic fields on neural networks. • Evaluation of doses occurring on the microscopic level. • Additional experimental research focused on the identification of potential biophysical and biochemical/molecular mechanisms of RF action. 2 Electroencephalography is a neurological diagnostic procedure that records the changes in electrical potentials (brain waves) in various parts of the brain.