Betreff: Rachel's Precaution Reporter
Von: Dorothee Krien
Datum: Sun, 11 Mar 2007 20:55:47 +0000

Strategy+Business, Nov. 28, 2006
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By Lavinia Weissman

Mobile phone manufacturers are today where cigarette makers were in
the early 1950s: facing risks that may -- or may not -- redefine the

reputation of their industry.

The mobile phone industry, which had been one of the world's fastest-
growing industries until recently, has begun to slow down. Its
saturated market -- 610 million phones in use as of 2004 -- has yet to
hit the once-projected high of 2 billion phones. To pump up sales,
suppliers and network operators have put their energies into creating

new designs and promoting the use of multimedia features for
entertainment, messaging, and voice and data access. Companies have
also focused on new markets -- children in the U.S. and the general
public in Asia, particularly China and India.

But the industry is missing one of its greatest opportunities and the
chance to forestall a potentially debilitating threat. No cellular
phone manufacturer has developed a strategic response to the growing
number of disquieting studies of potential health hazards from the
electronic magnetic fields (EMFs) emitted by mobile phones. Pointing
to the Food and Drug Administration and the Federal Communications
Commission, which hold that cell phones' effects on human health are

neither significant nor harmful, industry leaders have thus far
publicly shrugged off EMF risks. The reaction of a Disney Mobile
spokesman as quoted in a Business Week story in June 2006 is
typical: "Safety concerns 'really [haven't] been an issue here in the
U.S. for quite some time now.... Disney is relying on the FDA.'"

This strategy of duck-and-cover might work in the short run. But smart
players in the mobile industry would be wise to proactively provide
consumers with designs that minimize exposure to EMFs, thus reassuring

consumers and hedging against bad news in the future.

What, EMF Worries?

Over the past decades, a number of studies have pointed to the risks
inherent in cell phone technology. Michael Kundi, a professor at the

Institute of Environmental Health at the Medical University of Vienna,
has stated that since 2000, 17 epidemiological studies have suggested
that cell phones, held close to the head, can cause brain tumors and
cancer. "Never before in history," Kundi writes, "has a device been
used that exposes such a great proportion of the population to

microwaves in the near-field and at comparatively high levels." In
2005, another research team (Balkisi et al., published in the journal
Pathologie Biologie) showed statistical evidence that long-term users

of mobile phones may suffer from headaches, extreme irritation,
forgetfulness, and decreased reflexes, among other complaints. A
different study ( S. Lonn et al., 2004) suggests that the use of
mobile phones over a 10-year period might increase the risk of
acoustic neuroma (a nerve tumor in the ear) threefold. And in October
2006, American scientists warned that men using cell phones for more
than four hours a day might damage their sperm.

To be sure, the significance of these studies is inconclusive. Louis
Slesin, publisher of Microwave News, a monthly journal that has

tracked the issue for 25 years, told Business Week: "There is plenty
of data showing that we may have a serious problem on our hands, but
at this point no one really knows for sure."

William Stewart, the chairman of the
U.K. Independent Expert Review
Group that studied the impact of mobile phones in 2000, explains the
quandary: "In relation to radiation, it often takes a long time for
things to become obvious." The epidemiological effects of chemicals

and other toxins are difficult enough to establish with certainty, but
EMF is even more perplexing; it cannot be seen or tasted, and its
effects on tumors, cancer, and allergies (for example) are extremely
difficult to isolate from other environmental factors. Nonetheless,

concerns about the data have prompted a number of groups of
physicians and researchers to write to the European Parliament, urging

members to heighten the precautionary approach and stressing the need
for the adoption of new safety standards as well as full and

independent review of scientific evidence pointing to the hazards of
EMF exposure.

In his book Who Really Matters: The Core Group Theory of Power,

Privilege, and Success
(Doubleday, 2003), Art Kleiner, editor-in-
chief of strategy+business, observes that the mobile phone industry
could very well be at the crossroads the tobacco industry once
stumbled across. Starting when the first definitive studies linking
smoking to lung cancer were published in 1953, Kleiner writes,
cigarette companies denied the health risks of smoking. Their decision
"to deny, market, obfuscate, conceal and fight" worked for the short

term. But by refusing to take the moral high ground and go public with
the information (and, consequently, not repositioning the cigarette
business by, say, marketing the concept of smoking in moderation),
tobacco companies ultimately faced skyrocketing legal fees and fines,

as well as a public reputation as "merchants of death."

The Proactive Path

The mobile phone industry could avoid that fate. Taking cues from the
cigarette industry's mistakes and being proactive, the smart cellular

phone manufacturers might manage to build market share and increase
user loyalty. Mark Anderson, who publishes the online newsletter
Strategic News Service
, suggests a proactive plan for cellular phone

** Make sure your engineers and designers are the most exposed, aware
group in the industry.

** Design cell phones for health first, in all segments. "Guess what,"

says Anderson. "If you can position your company on this high ground
before anyone else, two things happen: First, you get lots of
business, and second, all your competitors look bad and lose share. It
is a win-lose, and you win."

** Make sure that all cell phones are sold with head sets or ear
microphones in the box. Make these accessories easy to use and
ergonomically appealing.

** In fact, sell children's cell phones that will operate only when a

head set or ear mike is attached. Include extra ear mikes in the box.
Make them easy to replace.

** Since your lawyers won't let you say why you are including these
devices, just say that "smart users use them."

** In the end, it might be necessary to invest more in researching the
health impact of non-ionizing cell phone radiation. The technological
underpinnings of cell phones might need to be redesigned.

"None of this bad news is going to go away," Anderson warns, "but the

first one to become proactive might take serious market share away
from the other hundred companies still in complete denial."

Carl Hilliard, president of the California-based nonprofit Wireless
Consumers Alliance
, counts at least 20 patents that suggest promising
advances in reducing EMF exposure. Hilliard, who was an attorney for
AirSignal before it was acquired by Cellular One, says: "If I were

still advising clients in the industry, I'd suggest that they look
into doing research on the near field" -- the health effects located
close to the source of transmission. "We don't know what goes on in

the near field," he explains. "What happens there is tumultuous." In
the meantime, Hilliard says, he too would urge including head sets or
ear mikes in the packaging. "I always use a hands-free phone," he


Failing to be proactive might lead the mobile industry down Tobacco
Road. In the United States, the number of class-action suits is
growing. Hilliard counts eight lawsuits specifically related to the

health hazards of cell phones currently making their ways through the
courts. Last year, he successfully represented a woman who claimed
that a brain tumor was caused by radio-frequency radiation at her job;
a California judge awarded workers' compensation of $30,000 plus
approximately $100,000 in health and related damages.

"I think claims against the wireless industry will follow the same
long path that you saw in the cigarette industry," Hilliard adds.
"There is a significant difference, however: The cigarette companies

kept making the cigarettes more addictive and stronger, despite
mounting scientific evidence of the risks. Cell phone companies are
already trying to reduce power levels in cell phones by increasing the
number of towers. It's a Hobbesian choice."

Although the United States offers no precautionary guidelines,
Britain's advisory body on radiological hazards, the Health Protection
Agency has urged parents to limit their children's use of cell phones,

recommending that younger children use cell phones only in
emergencies. In Europe, the Vienna Doctor's Chamber
has warned
expressly against excessive mobile phone use, especially by children.
"If medications delivered the same test results as mobile phone
radiation," chided a spokesperson for the chamber, "one would have to

immediately remove them from the market."

The June 2006 Business Week article titled "A Phone Safe Enough for

the Kids
?" detailed the growing marketing of cell phone service aimed
at kids and their parents by Cingular Wireless, Verizon, and, most
recently, Disney Mobile. After reviewing the scientific studies, the

article concluded: "So far, there has been no public clamor over the
new services like Disney's. Does this mean phones are safe for kids?
Or is the U.S. hooked and in collective denial? For now scientists

concerned about cell-phone safety say the only thing protecting kids
from possible danger is their parents."

Where children are concerned, the consequence of uncertainty is
magnified. Effects might include diseases that are deadly, such as

leukemia; diseases that are difficult to diagnose, such as autism; and
diseases that don't appear for decades, such as Alzheimer's. Exposure
to EMF could also alter a person's DNA, which would make it possible

for that person to transmute genetically based diseases to his or her

By taking the high road, designing safety features before they are
legally required, cell phone manufacturers can help protect and

reassure their customers. This approach means managing this short-term
risk effectively and innovatively, and turning it into a long-term
competitive advantage: the beginning of a reputation as a visionary,
not a villain.


Author Profiles:

Lavinia Weissman ( is the director of

WorkEcology, an online community for practitioners of organizational
learning and related theories. She focuses on innovative practices for

the workplace. Recently, she has been examining trends on the
prevention of chronic disease. She is a frequent contributor to the
SuccessFactors blog and Hospital Impact.

Click here to subscribe to strategy+business

Additional resources:

"A Phone Safe Enough for the Kids?" Business Week, June 19, 2006:
The cell phone industry sees a hot new market, but critics are

Dr. Elizabeth Cullen, " Report to the Joint Oireachtas Committee,
Dail Eireann," February 2005: Sums up research on EMF as presented to
the Irish Doctor's Environmental Association.

Gregor Harter and Steffen Schroder, "
Start-Ups in a Time of Upheaval
for the Mobile Industry
," Booz Allen Hamilton white paper, 2006: This

white paper studies 3,000 startups and finds slowing growth,
increasingly saturated markets, and difficult challenges ahead. PDF

Art Kleiner, Who Really Matters: The Core Group Theory of Power,
Privilege, and Success
(Doubleday, 2003): This book about "core
groups" of organizations contains a chapter on fulfilling the noble

purpose of great organizations.

Michael Kundi, "Mobile Phone Use and Cancer," Occupational and
Environmental Medicine, 2004
: Overview of the epidemiological
evidence, the resulting uncertainties, and a call for more focused
study from a member of the medical faculty of the University of
Vienna. An audio presentation by Kundi is also available.

S. Lonn, A. Ahlbom, P. Hall, and M. Feychting, " Mobile Phone Use and
the Risk of Acoustic Neuroma
," Institute of Environmental Medicine,
Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden, November 2004: Medical
journal article.

Nancy McVicar, "Court Victory Is a First for Programmers," South
Florida Sun-Sentinel, October 2, 2005; reprinted on
Woman awarded workers' compensation for radio-frequency radiation
exposure on the job.

Ian Sample, "Warning to Male Mobile Users: Chatting Too Long May Cut

Sperm Count," The Guardian, Oct. 24, 2006: A summation of the

Microwave News: Includes a collection of studies regarding the
potential harm caused by EMF exposure.

Strategic News Service
: Weekly newsletter about technology and
business, regularly covers emerging news and implications of mobile
phone health hazards.

Vienna Doctor's Chamber: Offers guidelines for limiting contact with
mobile phones.

Wireless Consumers Alliance
: This nonprofit organization site
contains references to class-action lawsuits against wireless

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