In 2008, the $148.1 billion wireless industry had over 270 million subscribers in the US (87% of the population) who used over 2.2 trillion minutes of call time. But whenever corporations are making billions of dollars selling you something, there’s something they’re not telling you. Most cell phones produce a form of radiation known as radio frequency (RF) radiation. And there are a growing number of scientific studies showing that cell phone use can cause cancer, disrupt pacemakers, decrease fertility, damage DNA, and – of course – increase the risk of traffic accidents. Not to mention wrecking marriages, but that’s another story.
They Denied It Before – It’s Pretty Clear Now
While earlier, short-term studies were inconclusive, several recent studies of cell phone use have found an increased risk of developing two types of brain tumors on the ipsilateral side (the side of the brain on which the cell phone is primarily held) among people who used a cell phone for longer than 10 years. Other recent studies linked cell phone use to an increased risk of salivary gland tumors (Lonn 2006; Sadetzki 2008), an increased risk for neurological symptoms such as migraine and vertigo (Schuz 2009), an increased risk for Alzheimer disease associated with electromagnetic radiation (Huss 2009), and a correlation between prenatal exposure to cell phone radiation and behavioral problems in children (Divan 2008). One study has shown that children under the age of eight absorb twice the amount of radiation into their brain tissue as adults due to their lower skull thickness.
Did You Know?
The radiation emitted by a cell phone can penetrate 4-6 cm (1.6-2.4 in) into the human brain.
Cell Phones and Sperm Counts?
Cell phone storage in front pockets has been linked to poor fertility and an increased chance of miscarriage and childhood cancer. According to the Cleveland Clinic Center for Reproductive medicine, semen quality “tended to decline as daily cell phone use increased.” Six studies from the U.S., Australia, Japan and Europe reported that exposure to cell phone radiation has an adverse effect on sperm counts, motility and vitality (Agarwal 2009; De Iuliis 2009; Erogul 2006; Fejes 2005; Salama 2009; Yan 2007).
The Radiation Limits – See How Your Phone Measures Up
On Aug. 7, 1996, the FCC created guidelines on cell phone radiation (RF) exposure. The guidelines created a measure of the rate that body tissue absorbs radiation energy during cell phone use called the specific absorption rate (SAR). The SAR for cell phone radiation was set at a maximum of 1.6 watts of energy absorbed per kilogram of body weight. The limit was set due to the thermal effects of cell phone radiation (all RF radiation can heat human body tissue at high enough levels) – it was not set to mitigate other biological effects such as DNA damage or cancer.
The FCC SAR limit is based upon a cell phone call that averages 30 minutes when the cell phone is held at the ear. SAR levels for cell phones sold in the US range from a low of .109 to the legal limit of 1.6. The worst phones? Almost always Smartphones/PDAs.
For those of you that have Crickets, the radiation levels aren’t available on all models, but – since Crickets are marketed to the hood – you can bet the levels are high. You can look up your phone’s radiation levels pretty easily at www.ewg.org/cellphone-radiation or (if it’s not there) at the online FCC database (using the FCC ID behind your cell phone’s battery) at www.fcc.gov/oet/ea/fccid
Did You Know?
Cordless home phones, television, radio, laptops, and palm held computers all produce radiofrequency (RF) radiation, the same type of radiation that is produced by cell phones.
Other Ways Your Phone Can Kill
Let’s not forget that your phone can kill you in other ways as well! According to studies done in England and Utah, a driver on a cell phone is more impaired in function and reaction time than a drunk driver with a Blood Alcohol Content level of 0.08% (past the legal limit). The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that driving distractions, including the use of cell phones (even on speakerphone), contribute to 25% of all traffic crashes. Don’t even get me started on the statistics for my personal vice, texting/emailing/video producing while driving. As if all that wasn’t enough, lithium-ion batteries, used in most cell phones, can explode from exposure to high heat, or from overcharging a faulty bootleg battery. These explosions have caused injuries and started fires. And if you’re in a dangerous neighborhood (or live a high-risk lifestyle), walking around, looking down, texting away, is not a good look for personal safety!
Tips for Reducing your Exposure to Phone Radiation
1. Buy a Low-Radiation Phone. Consider replacing your phone with one that emits the lowest radiation possible and still meets your needs.
2. Use a Headset or Speaker. Headsets emit much less radiation than phones. Choose either wired or wireless (experts are split on which version is safer). Some wireless headsets emit continuous, low-level radiation, so take yours off your ear when you’re not on a call. Using your phone in speaker mode also reduces radiation to the head.
3. Listen More, Talk Less. Your phone emits radiation when you talk or text, but not when you’re receiving voicemail messages.
4. Hold Phone Away from your Body. Hold the phone away from your torso when you’re talking (with headset or speaker), not against your ear, in a pocket, or on your belt where soft body tissues absorb radiation.
5. Choose Texting over Talking. Phones use less power (less radiation) to send text than voice. Texting also keeps radiation away from your head.
6. Poor Signal? Stay off the Phone. Fewer signal bars on your phone means that it emits more radiation to get the signal to the tower. Make and take calls when your phone has a strong signal.
7. Limit Children’s Phone Use. Health agencies in at least 6 countries recommend limits for children’s phone use, such as for emergency situations only. For those of you who have babies who love playing with your cellphone (and can tell the difference from a toy version), don’t do it. At the very least, turn off the signal/connection on your phone before giving it to them.
8. Lose the “Radiation Shields.” Things such as antenna caps or keypad covers reduce connection quality and actually force the phone to transmit at a higher power (with higher radiation).
Come up with your own plan (using the above suggestions) to decrease your exposure to cellphone radiation.