The cellular telephone industry said Friday that it would pay for government-approved research to determine whether radio waves from cellular phones pose a cancer risk.
“We recognize that some may find industry-sponsored research is suspect,” said Tom Wheeler, president of the Cellular Telecommunications Industry Assn.
“Therefore, we are asking the federal government to appoint a blue-ribbon panel to review the methodology and findings of this research.”
He said that he expects the research to be costly but that the cellular phone industry will pay for all of it.
He said his association has asked the Department of Health and Human Services, Federal Communications Commission and Environmental Protection Agency to appoint the oversight panel.
The announcement follows an earlier one by Craig McCaw, chairman of McCaw Cellular Communications Inc., the nation’s largest cellular phone service company, that his firm was commissioning a study on how cellular phone antennas affect users.
Also on Friday, Rep. Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), chairman of the House Energy and Commerce subcommittee on telecommunications, said he has asked the General Accounting Office to prepare a report on existing data on cellular phone safety.
Public anxiety about cellular phones erupted after David Reynard of St. Petersburg, Fla., said on CNN’s “Larry King Live” that he was suing phone maker NEC America and GTE Mobilnet of Tampa, blaming them for causing his wife’s fatal brain cancer. He said the tumor developed near the spot where the antenna of her phone would be during typical use.
The stock of cellular phone companies dropped after Reynard’s appearance and dealers have said that many of their customers have expressed fears.