Should I Be Concerned About RFID’s Health Effects?

By RFID Journal

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Ask The ExpertsShould I Be Concerned About RFID’s Health Effects?
RFID Journal Staff asked 14 years ago

What about the cancer issue? Is that a reason not to use RFID?

—Name withheld


By "cancer issue," I assume you refer to reports that implants were linked to tumors in lab animals (see Animal RFID Chip Implants Linked to Cancer), as reported by the Associated Press (AP) in 2007. The same chip used in animals is offered by VeriChip for human implantation, and the company claims its product is safe (see VeriChip Defends the Safety of Implanted RFID Tags).

Personally, I'm not a big fan of implanting tags in humans, and would advise anyone concerned about the cancer issue to hold off getting an implant—if they are considering doing so—until more information becomes available. I would note that the writer of the original AP story, Todd Lewan, has written a number of highly biased anti-RFID articles, so in my mind, his stories cannot be trusted to present facts (see Fearmongering Is Alive and Well and AP Hack Strikes Again). Of course, VeriChip also has a financial interest in presenting facts in a way that minimize any risk.

I think additional data is needed regarding this issue, but I would also make the point that millions of pets have been implanted with RFID transponders, and I have not heard any reports that they are dying of cancer as a result.

There has also been some concern that prolonged exposure to RFID energy could be harmful. I addressed this issue in June 2009 (see Can RFID Be Harmful to the Human Body?).

—Mark Roberti, Editor, RFID Journal

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