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Journal of Long-Term Effects of Medical Implants

ISSN Print: 1050-6934
ISSN Online: 1940-4379

Journal of Long-Term Effects of Medical Implants

DOI: 10.1615/JLongTermEffMedImplants.v18.i1.470
49 pages

Abstract of "How Much Information Should We Provide the Public About Exposure to Radio-frequency Energy from Mobile Phones?"

Kenneth R. Foster
Dept. of Biomedical Engineering University of Pennsylvania Philadelphia, PA 19104


A core requirement of engineering ethics is to provide the public with information to allow people to understand and make informed decisions about the potential risks of technologies. In practice, it is often difficult to decide how much information to provide and how it should be presented. In this paper I consider the case of mobile phones, about which there is public concern about potential health risks from exposure to radio-frequency energy even though health agencies around the world have failed to reach consensus that any health risks actually exist from such exposures. As a public-information measure, governments around the world are providing quantitative information to the public about the exposure to radio-frequency energy produced by mobile phones. There are calls to provide even more detailed information, including information about the distribution of exposure to specific parts of the brain as well—even though specialists themselves cannot interpret such information in terms of potential health consequences. To what extent do requirements for transparency and full disclosure require that such information be provided to the public?