Radiation and cell phones

Cell phone radiation is a problem, although there is disagreement about the level of radiation that should be considered unsafe.

Critics see the following issues with this radiation:

  • Low levels of this radiation can cause a breakdown in the shield between blood and brain, allowing pathogens to seep into the brain.
  • Common levels of this radiation are above the level required to kill neurons.
  • Animal studies have shown that heating of brain cells from cell phone radiation can cause behavioral changes (ADHD-type behavior).
  • FCC standards allow little margin for error, and are based on adults, not children.  There are no separate safety guidelines for children.

Researchers have in fact raised questions about a broad number of health issues associated with cell phone radiation.  However, there is no conclusive findings on any of these items to date.  The issues raised in addition to those listed above include reduced mental quickness and focus, sleep disturbance and low sperm count.

Current levels of radiation are considered safe under US guidelines.  However, UK, France, Russia and Zambia ban the use of cell phones by children.  Radiation regulations also exist in Poland, Slovenia, Sweden, The Netherlands, Lithuania, Italy, Belgium, Bulgaria and Denmark.  Australian guidelines include using cell phones only in areas of very good signal strength and reducing the length of calls.

Most of these countries also regulate exposure to high voltage overhead power lines.  There have been successful lawsuits in the US regarding these lines in the absence of regulation.

The International Agency for Research on Cancer, a program of the World Health Organization, has classified cell phones as “possibly carcinogenic to humans” based on current research (Category 2B).  The US National Cancer Institute finds the research results mixed and inconclusive.  There are further studies in programs.

Bluetooth and Google Glass devices emit this radiation.  Category 2 and 3 Bluetooth devices emit lower levels of radiation than cell phones, but even these levels may be dangerous.

The charts below are courtesy of the IEEE.  They show radiation penetration into the skull that results from holding a cell phone to your ear.

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What can you do?

Actions to reduce risk are simple and cheap, so there is no real excuse not to protect yourself.  Radiation dissipates with the square of distance between you and the phone, so keep it away from your skin.

(1)  Use the speaker function on your phone where practical.  Texting is good.

(2) Keep the phone on a belt clip, in a purse or in a briefcase rather than in a pocket or (worse yet) bra.  (Yes, I have seen people do this.)

(3)  Use a corded headset where practical.

Opinion:  There’s still a lot we need to learn about how major illnesses including cancer work.  As we learn, we will find we need to measure things that we are not considering now, and we will find relationships between products or drugs and illnesses that we aren’t even considering now.  We finally established the risk of cigarettes way too late for millions of users.  That may very well happen again with radiation.  When the cost of  being prudent is so low, why not?

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Sources:

CNET. “Cell phones with the highest radiation levels”.  http://www.cnet.com/pictures/highest-cell-phone-radiation/

German, Kent.  “Why CNET compiles cell phone radiation charts”, CNET. http://www.cnet.com/news/cell-phone-radiation/

Ludwig, Ben.  “10 Phones and Headsets to Keep You Away from Radiation,”   PC Magazine.  17 June 2010.  http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2365224,00.asp

National Cancer Institute.  “Cell Phones and Cancer Risk.”  http://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/causes-prevention/risk/radiation/cell-phones-fact-sheet#q4

RFSafe Corporation.  “Is Bluetooth Radiation as Dangerous as Cell Phone Radiation?” https://www.rfsafe.com/bluetooth-radiation-dangerous-cell-phone-radiation/

RFSafe Corporation. “Specific Absorption Rate, or SAR – FCC Cell Phone Radiation Exposure Limits”.  https://www.rfsafe.com/specific-absorption-rate-sar-fcc-cell-phone-radiation-exposure-limits/

Shipper, David.  “Does Cell-Phone Radiation Cause Cancer?”  Consumer Reports.  28 September 2015.  http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/smartphones/cell-phone-radiation

Stam, Rianne.  “Comparison of international policies on electromagnetic fields”.  National Institute for Public Health and the Environment, Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport, The Netherlands.  May 2011.

Wikipedia.  “Mobile phone radiation and health”.  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mobile_phone_radiation_and_health.

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