Do people understand IARC's 2B categorization of RF fields from cell phones?

Authors

  • Peter M. Wiedemann,

    1. Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT), Institute for Technology Assessment and Systems Analysis (ITAS), Science Forum EMF, Berlin, Germany
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  • Franziska U. Boerner,

    Corresponding author
    1. Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT), Institute for Technology Assessment and Systems Analysis (ITAS), Science Forum EMF, Berlin, Germany
    • Correspondence to: Franziska U. Boerner, Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT), Institute for Technology Assessment and Systems Analysis (ITAS), Science Forum EMF, Anna-Louisa-Karsch-Str. 2, 10178 Berlin, Germany. E-mail: franziska.boerner@kit.edu

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  • Michael H. Repacholi

    1. Department of Information Engineering, Electronics and Telecommunications (DIET), University of Rome “La Sapienza”, Roma, Italy
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  • Conflicts of interest: The Science Forum EMF, founded by Peter Wiedemann, is a project of the Institute for Technology Assessment and Systems Analysis (ITAS) at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT), a member of the Helmholtz Association of German Research Centres.

Abstract

In May 2011, the International Agency on Cancer in Research (IARC) issued an official statement concluding that cell phone usage was “possibly carcinogenic to humans.” There have been considerable doubts that non-experts and experts alike fully understood what IARC's categorization actually meant, as “possibly carcinogenic” can be interpreted in many ways. The present study is based on an online survey indicating that both the characterization of the probability of carcinogenicity, as well as the description of the risk increase given in the IARC press release, was mostly misunderstood by study participants. Respondents also greatly overestimated the magnitude of the potential risk. Our study results showed that IARC needs to improve their scientific communications. Bioelectromagnetics. 35:373–378, 2014. © 2014 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

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