From mobiles to microwaves: Assessing radiation hazards

The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) is assessing the carcinogenic hazards associated with exposure to radiofrequency electromagnetic fields. They are looking at:

(a) occupational exposures to radiation from radar and to microwaves, (b) environmental exposures associated with transmission of signals for radio, television and wireless telecommunication, and (c) personal exposures associated with the use of mobile telephones. IARC are expected to announce their decision at approximately 4am NZT Wednesday 01 June 2011.

Our colleagues at the Australian Science Media Centre have organised for Professor Bernard Stewart to be on hand, in advance of the announcement, to explain why IARC are classifying these agents, what the categories mean in terms of safety and what the decisions will mean for members of the public.



The NZ SMC will be rounding up reaction from New Zealand experts when the IARC findings are released on Wednesday morning.The SMC has also developed an infographic explaining where various devices sit on the electromagnetic radio spectrum. Feel free to use the infographic in your stories.

Listen in to the briefing to ask questions such as:

· Why are IARC looking at mobile phones?

· Which forms of cancer are being looked at?

· What type of evidence will they base their decisions upon?

· Will IARC be able to tell us about amount of exposure and levels of increased risk?

· If IARC classify mobile phones and wireless networks as group 2a (probably) or 2b (possibly carcinogenic to humans) then should we stop using them?

· How can something be deemed not classifiable (group 3) and what does this tell us about safety?

· Assuming that IARC decides on group 2b or above, will IARC be expecting Governments or regulators to act on these classifications?


· Professor Bernard Stewart, is Head of the Cancer Control Program in South East Sydney for NSW Health and has extensive involvement in IARC evaluations