Mobile phones have only been a part of society for a relatively short period of time, yet they play such a huge part in the lives of many today. Most of us have some idea about the harm they can cause. We’ve heard the words ‘cancer’ and ‘radiation’ tossed around before. We are aware that something isn’t right here, but what exactly is the real crux of it all? Here are seven things you need to know as a cell phone user that scratch the surface.
1. Most of us aren’t using our phones ‘safely’
What exactly does that mean?In accordance with the ‘right to know’ ordinance, if you check your mobile phone manual, you will find instructions telling you that unless you keep you phone at least 5mm away from your body (distances vary depending on the company/phone), you will exceed the FCC approved regulations for ‘safe’ RF (radiofrequency) exposure. To quote an excerpt from an Apple iPhone, you must ‘carry iPhone at least 10mm away from your body to ensure exposure levels remain at or below the as-tested levels.’ This means that anyone who carries their phone in their pocket or bra puts themselves at a risk of exposure that is considered too dangerous for humans. Simply put, if phones were tested in pockets, they would exceed the RF levels that are deemed safe for human beings.
2. FCC guidelines are at least 20 years out of date and based on testing that is now irrelevant
Dr Devra Davis, Epidemiologist and President of the Environmental Trust, points out that in 1997, the typical user of a cell phone was either from the military or medical profession. The tests that were done to create basic safety standards were done on the head of a 220lb male military recruit. The main focus of the standards that were then created was to avoid heating up the head of the user after a six-minute call. We now know that heat is the least of our problems. What clearly wasn’t considered was the growing evidence of non-thermal impacts from ‘chronic’ exposures – usage that Dr Davis points out ‘we would consider normal in this day and age’. Besides, I don’t know many people with a head the same size as a 220lb male.
What are the wider impacts of these standards not being revisited? For starters, since 1997, secondary insurers have refused to cover health damages from wireless phones. In 2015, a Canadian parliamentary health committee pushed for testing systems for cell phones to be updated. In their words, the current system is based on ‘flawed modelling of total head absorption’ and does not take into account the following:
· Dose at target tissue of the brain
· Developmental immaturity of a young brain
· Non-thermal biological impacts
· Impacts on pregnancy, sperm and nervous system
To follow guidelines is one thing, but to follow guidelines that are so archaic is quite another! So what do other countries have to say about the risks of cell phones?
3. Countries around the world have passed strict laws to protect their citizens
That’s right – there are leaders who consider cell phones to be such a risk that they have actually passed laws in order to minimise the effect they can have on their citizens. Check out the examples below.
| May 2010 (just over a decade after phones were created)French House of Deputies and Senate Chamber passes law|
– All cell phones to be sold with ear pieces
– Labelling of SAR (specific absorption rate) on phones
– Restrictions for children’s use
– Warnings for overall users to reduce direct radiofrequency
Indian Supreme Court upholds Rajasthan State Court decision to remove all cell towers from the vicinity of schools, hospitals and playgrounds because radiation was deemed ‘hazardous to life’.
Belgium Law decrees·
– No phones to be designed or sold for children under 7
– All phones to be sold with headsets
– Safety information to be readily available
– SAR to be listed for every phone at the point of sale
Even Israel has banned Wi-Fi from kindergartens! These laws are aimed at mostly either prohibition or education, which should send a really strong message to those who are on the fence about whether or not their cell phones use could be harming them personally.
You may ask, ‘How is this affecting me personally?’ Well here’s where it gets interesting.
4. Sperm that has been exposed to cell phone radiation swims in circles instead of a straight line
Bet you didn’t know this one! It’s crazy to think about, but unfortunately this isn’t the only effect it has on males. During studies where researchers exposed semen samples to cell phone radiation, it was seen that samples exposed for more than one hour had a significant drop in sperm motility, and a decrease in total antioxidant capacity. Patients who took part in another study had a 42% lower sperm count and 33% lower sperm motility if they used their phone for more than four hours a day. To put it bluntly, the more you use your phone, the more likely you are to not be able to have children. This is just the very beginning of reproduction we are talking about – what about unborn babies?
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5. Cell phones can affect you even before you are born
Here’s a scary study: Ten autistic children and ten normal children were included in a study where the scientists traced the sleeping location of the mothers while she had been pregnant. There was .20.7x higher RF radiation in the mother’s sleeping location in cases where children were neurologically impaired. The links found in this study have been said to be the first ever way that autism could correctly be predicted. This means that your mobile phone could not only be affecting your health – it could also have a huge effect on any children you might have as well. What about other living things?
6. Other living things are affected by RF
There was a study done on Aspen where two groups were grown in the same place. One group was shielded from RF radiation and one was not. What was the result of the study? Over the period of time that the study was carried out, the group that was shielded from RF radiation produced 74% more leader length and 60% more leaf area than the group that was not shielded. Even though both groups looked very similar, there were still differences in their growth. This means that our environment has the potential to be suffering even when we can’t see it. The effects that were seen in this study suggest that exposure to RF radiation may be an underlying factor in the recent rapid decline of aspen populations.
Mobile phones have the ability to affect you, your reproduction, your children and even your environment. This warrants further investigation in order to protect yourself and those around you. However, there is one final, very important thing you need to know before looking any further.
7. You will get different results from different studies you look at depending who is funding them
Essentially, there are two different groups who do research on this subject: Those who are funded by the tech industry itself and those who conduct studies independently. What is the difference between the two? Studies that are sponsored by the tech industry are done so with the understanding that the most ‘favourable’ results need to be displayed at the end of the study. Jerry L Phillips, Director of the Science Learning Centre at the University of Colorado, conducted research into radiofrequency, supported by Motorola. He says the relationship he had with them was ‘cordial and stress-free’ until the data started coming through. Focus was then moved to how the information that came through could be spun to the public. Eventually, they began to exert more control over work, even going so far as telling him what to say in abstracts and papers!
If you are planning on finding out more about this subject, make sure to avoid anything that has been sponsored by anyone who might cause a conflict of interest – it will have a huge impact on your personal health and safety.
So what now?
Most of us cannot avoid the use of cell phones in our day-to-day lives, but the very real fact of the matter is that there is no one regulating the risks, so we must regulate and educate ourselves. Those who make money off this industry are more interested in keeping the money coming in as opposed to keeping their consumers safe and aware. Don’t just stop at these 7 things you now know – keep questioning this issue! We must take this awareness into our own hands – for ourselves, our children and our environment.