Monday, November 23, 2009

Cell phones and radiation -- things you should know!

We have all heard about cell phone safety when it comes to driving. But few people know there is a new body of research looking into a different kind of cell phone safety, namely the potential health effects of using cell phones. As it turns out cell phones emit radiation (I had no idea) and because many people have the devices stuck to their ears for hours on end some scientists are concerned that our bodies might be receiving more radiation than is safe or healthy.

There is much research yet to be done, but preliminary data from several reports points to increased occurrence of brain tumors and salivary gland tumors in people who have used cell phones for 10 years or longer. Other reports link behavioral problems in children to cell phone use.
If you have your doubts consider this: Last month Maine’s House and Senate voted to approve for consideration a bill that would require all cell phones and their packaging to carry a warning label, advising children and pregnant women to keep the device away from their heads and bodies.
The National Cancer Institute in the U.S. says that although studies have not shown any consistent link between cellular telephone use and cancer, scientists feel that additional research is needed before firm conclusions can be drawn. (Did you catch the word “consistent”?)

So while scientists are researching away, many government agencies in Europe are busy making recommendations for children to avoid using cell phones and for everyone else go looking for devices with the lowest radiation output.

Until manufacturers are required to label the phone’s radiation output be thankful that the Environmental Working Group (EWG) has measured the output for us. They tested over a thousand devices currently on the market (in the U.S.) and have ranked them by radiation. You can search for you phone, PDA or smart phone in their online database to see where it ranks. The database is also a helpful tool if you’re looking at getting a new phone. You can search the database at

EWG also developed some simple guidelines for how we can all be safer with our cell phones (from a radiation perspective). Download their guide to safe cell phone use at the web address above. In the meantime, here are some of the highpoints of EWG’s recommendations:

• Buy a low-radiation phone. Look up your phone, or search for a new phone, in their guide. (Check under your battery for the model number.)
• Use a headset or speaker. A headset emits much less radiation than your phone and using speaker phone mode keeps that radiation away from your head.
• Less radiation is emitted when your texting compared to talking, and texting keeps the radiation away from your head.
• Stay off the phone if you don’t have a strong signal. Your phone will emit even more radiation when it’s working hard to get the signal to the tower.
• Limit children’s phone use. Young children’s brains absorb twice the cell phone radiation as an adult’s.

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