*** UPDATE May 30, 2011 Anderson Cooper AC 360 on CNN "Cell Phone Dangers" (very real, especially for children).***
I don't own a cell phone. The only time I ever used one was on a sales job that required it. Even then, I rarely needed it. So I feel fortunate to have avoided the hazards of cell phone use. I'm not talking about texting while driving. I'm talking about cell phone radiation.
San Fransisco has passed a new law, requiring cell phone retailers to clearly label how much radiation is emitted by a phone. While some journalists and lawmakers think the threats may be exaggerated, Time Magazine had an interesting angle.
Despite the government's view that cell phones pose no danger, some researchers note that most of us have been using them for less than a decade.
If there is indeed a cumulative risk to using a mobile phone, it's possible that users won't be aware of it until it's too late — just as it took doctors decades to connect cigarette-smoking with lung cancer.
"We all wish we'd heeded the early warnings about cigarettes," says Olga Naidenko, a senior scientist at Environmental Working Group and the author of the recent report on cell phones. "We think cell phones are similar."
It's interesting how the New York Times, in their article "San Fransisco Passes Cell Phone Radiation Law", reports only the opinion that "cell phones are not a hazard", an opinion expressed by cell phone industry groups and federal agencies (organizations with very low credibility).
Ah, it's so much like how industry groups and federal agencies proclaimed heroin to be safe and non-addictive when it was first invented. And cocaine. Then nicotine cigarettes. On and on it goes.
Under the law, retailers will be required to post materials — in at least 11-point type — next to phones, listing their specific absorption rate, which is the amount of radio waves absorbed into the cellphone user’s body tissue. These so-called SAR rates can vary from phone to phone, but all phones sold in the United States must have a SAR rate no greater than 1.6 watts per kilogram, according to the Federal Communications Commission, which regulates the $190 billion wireless industry.
Dr. Mercola, who sells some inexpensive Ferrite Beads to help decrease the danger of cell phone use, has this to say on the topic of cell phone radiation.
In essence, your cell phone is a radio.
When you talk on your cell phone, your voice is transmitted from the antenna as radio frequency radiation (RFR) between 800 MHz and 1,990 MHz. This frequency falls in the range of microwave radiation and, when you are exposed to it, there may be a chance of health consequences.
Depending on how close the cell phone antenna is to your head, between 20% and 60% of the radiation emitted by your cell phone is transferred into your head. The radiation actually penetrates the area around your head and is absorbed, with some radiation reaching an inch, to an inch and a half, into your brain.
If you have children, you should be especially concerned with their usage of cell phones, since their skulls are thinner and more vulnerable to these radiations.
CNET has published a list of cell phones with the highest radiation or SAR (specific absorption rate) levels.
While some researchers have said there is cause to be "concerned," others disagree and say it is still too early too early to be alarmed. Similarly, though some tests have suggested a link between long-term (10 years or longer) cell phone use and cancer, there still is not conclusive or demonstrated evidence that cell phones cause or don't cause adverse health effects in humans. In short, the jury is still out. Research into the matter will continue, and we will continue to monitor its results.
If you're concerned about limiting your SAR exposure, you can take a few easy steps beyond purchasing a handset with a low SAR. You can text instead placing a voice call, use a speakerphone whenever possible, and carry your phone at least one inch from your body. Some researchers also caution against using your phone in areas with poor coverage since phones emit more radiation when searching for a signal.
Children, which have smaller and thinner skulls, should limit cell phone use, and all users, children and adults, should not sleep with an active phone next to their bedside or under their pillow.
Note that simply using a headset won't free you from cell phone radiation. Studies have shown that radio signals tend to follow up wired headsets to the ear, and even though Bluetooth headsets emit far weaker radiation than cell phones, there's still a small amount being transmitted.
This is a topic you're going to hear more about. Since so many people are addicted to using their cell phones to "stay connected" (i.e. blabbing about this and that), it won't be easy to change entrenched habits and dependencies.
Even the men's fashion magazine Gentlemen's Quarterly (GQ) weighed in on this controversy.
"Warning: Your Cell Phone May Be Hazardous to Your Health"
It's hard to talk about the dangers of cell-phone radiation without sounding like a conspiracy theorist.
This is especially true in the United States, where non-industry-funded studies are rare, where legislation protecting the wireless industry from legal challenges has long been in place, and where our lives have been so thoroughly integrated with wireless technology that to suggest it might be a problem—maybe, eventually, a very big public-health problem—is like saying our shoes might be killing us.
Except our shoes don't send microwaves directly into our brains. And cell phones do—a fact that has increasingly alarmed the rest of the world.
Consider, for instance, the following headlines that have appeared in highly reputable international newspapers and journals over the past few years.
From summer 2006, in the Hamburg Morgenpost: are we telephoning ourselves to death?
That fall, in the Danish journal Dagens Medicin: mobile phones affect the brain's metabolism.
December 2007, from Agence France-Presse: israeli study says regular mobile use increases tumour risk.
January 2008, in London's Independent: mobile phone radiation wrecks your sleep.
September 2008, in Australia's The Age: scientists warn of mobile phone cancer risk.
Research is still being conducted and is considered "inconclusive", manufacturers are fighting against truthful labeling, government is afraid of alarming the public and retailers are worried about slumping sales in a bad economy ... so we'll give you some links to help you understand this important and controversial topic.
Environmental Working Group "Limit Your Exposure to Cell Phone Radiation"
Time Magazine "Cell Phone Risks"
Life Extension Magazine "Hidden Dangers of Cell Phone Radiation"
Global Change "Mobile Phone Radiation Dangers"
National Cancer Institute "Cell Phones and Cancer Risk"
US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) "Cell Phones"
Wired "How Much Cell Phone Radiation You're Getting"
The Independent (UK) "Mobile Phone Usage Wrecks Your Sleep"
Research Professor Henry Lai
University of Washington Alumni Column "Cell Phone Radiation Research is Unwelcome"
WHO Factsheet on Mobile Phones and Electromagnetic Radiation
FCC "Radio Frequency Safety"