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PRI's Environmental News Magazine

Environmental Health Note/Can You Hear Me Now?

Air Date: Week of July 18, 2003

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Living on Earth’s Diane Toomey reports on a study on the effects of cell phone radiation on the brain.


KNOY: Just ahead: a ray of light shines through years of environmental neglect at the tip of the Indian sub-continent. We visit a place called Auroville. First, this Environmental Health Note from Diane Toomey.


TOOMEY: Most research on cell phone usage has focused on a possible connection between radiation emitted by phones and cancer. And those studies have found no link. But a Swedish research team recently looked for a different effect.

They already had shown in previous studies that cell phone radiation weakens the protective layer of cells between the brain and bloodstream in rats. They also knew that the protein albumin could leak through this protective barrier. The researchers wanted to find out if this albumin leakage was damaging. So they exposed rats to radiation generated by a type of mobile phone commonly used in Europe. The rats were divided into three groups and exposed to different doses of radiation, all comparable to what a human might receive using a cell phone for two hours. Another group of rats received no radiation.

As expected, the exposed rats' brains showed signs of albumin accumulation. But these new tests also showed signs of significant damage to neurons throughout the brain. What's more, the higher the dose of radiation, the greater the neuron damage. The researchers admit this was a small study, but say it may point to long term effects from frequent exposure to cell phone radiation.

That’s this week’s Health Note. I’m Diane Toomey.

KNOY: And you're listening to NPR’s Living on Earth.

[MUSIC: Underworld “Air Towel” Second Toughest in the Infants TVT (1996)]



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