Solid Information on Controversial Health Topics

7 Disadvantages of Mobile Phones

I have reduced my mobile phone usage by about 96% since I started researching its health consequences. I went from one hour per day on my mobile, to less than one hour per month.

Am I overreacting?
You might have a different answer after reading the articles in this series.

Each article in this series will go into at least one of the seven disadvantages of mobile phones. The 7 disadvantages of mobile phones that will be covered are:

I am thinking of adding ‘Mobile Phones and Privacy’. The last part of the series will provide actions you can take to reduce the health risks.

All articles will be posted in the coming few weeks.

A Short History – The exponential use of mobile phones

Almost every adult has a mobile phone, and so do many children. Prof. Kenneth J. Rothman, one of the world’s leading epidemiologists, states the following:

Within only a few years a substantial proportion of the world’s population has adopted a new technology that involves placing a small radio transmitter up against the head, in some instances for hours a day.[1]

The explosion of mobile phone use in the last few decades has been astounding: In 1988 there were approximately 500,000 mobile phone subscribers in the US, by 1993 this had grown to 13,000,000. [2] By 2006 there were 223 million mobile phone users. [3]

Mobile phones transmit and receive Radio Frequency (RF) signals in order to communicate. The RF signals from mobile phones fall within the microwave part of the electromagnetic spectrum.[4] This radiation is also referred to as microwave radiation or electromagnetic radiation. In short: Mobile phones use microwave radiation to communicate.

Consequently, our landscapes and cities are covered by ‘base stations’ that relay the microwave signals used for communication. Both the base stations and the mobile phones emit microwave radiation.

In the last twenty years, the US has adopted mobile phones as a integral part of everyday life; 223 million people have started using personal mobile devices that emit microwave radiation. In order to make this work, there are at least 126,000 cell phone towers that also emit microwave radiation.[5]

Could this microwave radiation have a negative impact on our health?

 

Mobile Phone Disadvantage #1 – An Unsafe Safety Standard

RadiationCell_thumb1Microwaves can be harmful to humans, the most obvious harmful effect is heating: warming up your food in the microwave is an everyday example of heating through microwaves.

Consequently, safety standards have been established to limit the microwave radiation exposure from mobile phones and base stations. This section will explain why the established safety standards are limited and do not protect your health.

One of the first organizations to look to would be the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). The FCC has an interesting take on Radio Frequency standards, it states on the FCC website:

The FCC is required by the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 to evaluate the effect of emissions from FCC-regulated transmitters on the quality of the human environment. At the present time there is no federally-mandated radio frequency (RF) exposure standard.[6]

The FCC does have a standard that defines the maximum RF energy allowed to be absorbed through the head when using a mobile phone, measured through a value called the Specific Absorption Rate (SAR):

The SAR is a value that corresponds to the relative amount of RF energy absorbed in the head of a user of a wireless handset. The FCC limit for public exposure from cellular telephones is an SAR level of 1.6 watts per kilogram (1.6 W/kg).[7]

However, the safety standards only protect from the heating effect of the microwave radiation, also called the ‘thermal effect’. If the microwave radiation does not cause a temperature increase in your head of more than one degree, the microwave exposure is deemed to be safe. The underlying assumption is that there cannot be cell damage without heating. And without cell damage, there is no health risk.

The ‘no damage without heating’-theory can be considered old and backward. Many research studies have shown that non-heating, or non-thermal, microwave radiation has a profoundly negative effect on the human body.

A 2003 study by Prof. Salford et al for example, established for the first time evidence for neurological damage caused by non-thermal microwave exposure.[8]

Dr G.J Hyland, an authority on the potential health effects of non-thermal microwave radiation, states that:

there is thus absolutely no justification for claiming that Mobile Telecommunication Technology is safe and does not constitute a risk (both directly and indirectly) to public health.[9]

 

The popular belief that adverse health effects can be induced only by the heating effect of [mobile phone] radiation is a fallacy.[10]

Furthermore, mobile phones are not allowed in hospitals and on airplanes due to the concern that the microwave radiation might interfere with the electronics.

It does not make sense to acknowledge that there might be interference on sensitive electronic equipment due to the microwaves, but exclude the possibility that these same microwaves might have an impact on our body. After all, the human body is an extremely sensitive electrochemical instrument that uses various wave-based electrical processes (e.g. brain waves), each characterized by a specific frequency.[11]

Concluding, the current safety standards for microwave radiation emitted by mobile phones only take thermal heating into account: microwave radiation is considered to be safe if your body temperature does not increase by more than one degree. The non-thermal effects are not taken into account, making the ‘safety standards’ a mockery of public health.

New standards should be developed in order to protect the public from the possible health consequences of exposure to microwave radiation.

The next article in this series will look into the second disadvantage on mobile phones:

Next: Mobile Phone Disadvantage #2 – Negative Health Effects

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References
  1. ^ Rothman, Kenneth. "Epidemiological Evidence on Health Risks of Cellular Telephones." The Lancet 356 (2000): 1837-1840.
  2. ^ Farley, Tom. "Mobile Telephone History." Privateline.Com. <http://www.privateline.com/PCS/history11.htm>.
  3. ^ Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). The World Factbook - United States. <https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/us.html>.
  4. ^ Hardell, L, A Hallquist, K Hansson Mild, M Carlberg, A Pahlson, and A Lilja. "Cellular and Cordless Telephones and the Risk for Brain Tumours." European Journal of Cancer Prevention 11(2002): 377-386.
  5. ^ "Cell Phone Carriers." Mobiledia. <http://www.cellreception.com/>.
  6. ^ United States. Office of Engineering and Technology (OET). Federal Communications Commission (FCC). Radio Frequency Safety - FCC Policy on Human Exposure to Radiofrequency Electromagnetic Fields. <http://www.fcc.gov/oet/rfsafety/>.
  7. ^ United States. Office of Engineering and Technology (OET). Federal Communications Commission (FCC). Radio Frequency Safety - Cellular Telephone Specific Absorption Rate (SAR). <http://www.fcc.gov/oet/rfsafety/sar.html>.
  8. ^ Salford, Leif G., Arne E. Brun, Jacob L. Eberhardt, Lars Malmgren, and Bertil R. Persson. "Nerve Cell Damage in Mammalian Brain After Exposure to Microwaves From GSM Mobile Phones." Environmental Health Perspectives 111 (2003): 881-883. <http://www.ehponline.org/members/2003/6039/6039.html>.
  9. ^ Hyland, G J. "How Exposure to Mobile Phone Base-Station Signals Can Adversely Affect Humans." (2005). <http://www.tetrawatch.net/papers/hyland_2005.pdf>.
  10. ^ Hyland, G.J. The Physiological and Environmental Effects of Non-Ionising Electromagnetic Radiation. <http://www.whale.to/b/hyland1.html>.
  11. ^ Hyland, G.J. "Physics and Biology of Mobile Telephony." The Lancet 356 (2000): 1833-1836.

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Comments

  1. Thanks for the work you’re doing. I know from experience how much time it can take to put together a well referenced article. Please post a link on my blog when you complete the article on the privacy issues associated with cell phones, as I think my readers will find that of interest.

  2. JHS says:

    Thanks for contributing this post to this week’s Carnival of Family Life, hosted at This Full House. Be sure to stop by on Monday, March 10, 2008, and support your fellow participants by checking out all of their wonderful contributions.

  3. Paula says:

    Hey I just read your article and I found it very very informing. What can we do about this situation? Parents need to become more aware on the impact that mobile phones are having on their children. If a mobile phone is off, does it still emit the harmful rays? How far away from you does a phone need to be to stop the rays from affecting you?

  4. Michael says:

    Hi Paula, thank you for your comment.
    I will address the questions that you raised in the last article of this series, which will be published later this month.
    You are right: parents have to be aware, and there are measures parents can take to minimize the exposure to their children.

  5. bazla says:

    your information about this topic is wonderful

  6. lilian says:

    welcome
    Iwant thank about this report , I am very interest about mobile phone and effect on environmental please Iwant send to me any think about this
    with best

    lilian yaqup
    assisted teacher
    environmental and pollution controal research center
    Mosul un.

  7. razi says:

    i read all your articles n i thought 2 reduce the use of my mobile…
    even took some information formy debate in this topic…..
    :)
    THANK U A LOT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Trackbacks

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  2. [...] Michael wrote an post worth reading today.Here’s a quick excerpt:Hardell, L, A Hallquist, K Hansson Mild, M Carlberg, A Pahlson, and A Lilja. “Cellular and Cordless Telephones and the Risk for Brain Tumours.” European Journal of Cancer Prevention 11 (2002): 377-386. ^ “Cell Phone Carriers. … [...]

  3. [...] http://www.controlyourimpact.com/2008/03/disadvantages-of-mobile-phones/The FCC is required by the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 to evaluate the effect of emissions from FCC-regulated transmitters on the quality of the human environment. At the present time there is no federally-mandated radio … [...]

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