What is invisible, silent, odorless, tasteless and potentially deadly? The answer is EMR, or electromagnetic radiation, which refers to AC electric and AC magnetic fields. EMR occurs naturally on our planet ranging from the earth’s natural magnetic field to ionizing radiation, however, concerns lie in many of today’s man-made advances. Electromagnetic radiation is produced by such things as power lines, electric appliances, radio waves, microwaves and cellular devices to name just a few. The spectrum includes radio waves, microwaves, infrared radiation, visible light, UV radiation, X-rays and gamma rays. Can you imagine how many times a day we’re exposed to electromagnetic radiation?
Some of you might be more familiar with the term EMF, or electromagnetic field. Wavelength and frequency determine the characteristics of an electromagnetic field. Electrical power supplies and appliances are the most common sources of low frequency electric and magnetic fields in our living environment. Extremely low frequency (ELF) fields generally have frequencies up to 300 Hz. High frequency, Radiofrequency (RF) fields generally have frequencies of 10 MHz to 300 GHz. Everyday sources of radio frequency electromagnetic fields are telecommunications, broadcasting antennas and microwave ovens.
One major device of controversy that gives off RF radiation is cellular telephone antennas. Today, nearly five billion handsets are used around the world. The type of radiation coming out of a cell phone is called non-ionizing. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), mobile phones are low-powered radiofrequency transmitters, operating at frequencies between 450 and 2700 MHz with peak powers in the range of 0.1 to 2 watts. In 1993, Dr. George Carlo was hired by the Cellular Telecommunication and Internet Association to head up a $28 million research program into the possible health affects of cellular phones. His findings indicated an increased risk of tumors, cancers, and genetic damage from cell phone use. And since then, he’s been an advocate for creating awareness on the topic.
In his book, Cell Phones: Invisible Hazards in the Wireless Age, one thing Dr. Carlo mentions is how young people are more vulnerable to the EMF waves due to their lack of skull thickness which is still maturing and growing. This makes them susceptible to the danger of the wireless technology. This is very troubling consider there are more and more teens, even preteens that are using cell phones today.
Also, in an article published in Popular Science Magazine in February of 2004, it discussed how a neurosurgeon Leif Salford and colleagues from Lund University in Sweden published data showing the first time an unambiguous link between microwave radiation emitted by GSM mobile phones and brain damage in rats.
Sailford exposed 32 rats to two hours of microwave radiation from GSM cell phones for over 50 days. The results show that rats had damage neurons and their brains had significant blood vessel leakages. If humans suffer similar results to what is tested on rats, this can become a major problem in society. The long-term affects of cell phone use on humans is still widely unknown so studies like this should be put into consideration.
What happens to our bodies in the long run after we keep an electrical device in our pocket for hours a day, or continually digest food that has been microwaved or work from a wireless computer laptop that actually sits atop our lap every night? There are many ongoing studies today that are trying to figure out just how EMR is affecting us today.
We are surrounded in a world of technology that is constantly bombarding us with electromagnetic radiation on a daily basis. In fact, it is said that we are 100 million times more exposed to electromagnetic radiation and microwaves than our grandparents, and the jury is still out on what the long term affects will be. Controversy about cell phones potential link to the main types of brain tumor, glioma and meningioma, remains ongoing.
Cell phone Radiation Guide
While scientists explore the health implications of cell phone radiation, be sure to make smart purchases and proceed with the precautionary principle. Discover how your cell phone compares to other phones on a list measuring radiation output for all cell phones on the market. Visit Environmental Working Group’s interactive database HERE and:
- Discover how the hottest new phones rank
- Look up your phone’s radiation level
- Find a low-radiation phone
- Find a headset
- Get practical, convenient tips on how to reduce your radiation
- Take action
So what does all of this have to do with a boiling frog metaphor? As the story goes and is metaphorically referred to in science and business…
“If you drop a frog in a pot of boiling water, it will of course frantically try to clamber out. But if you place it gently in a pot of tepid water and turn the heat on low, it will float there quite placidly. As the water gradually heats up, the frog will sink into a tranquil stupor, exactly like one of us in a hot bath, and before long, with a smile on its face, it will unresistingly allow itself to be boiled to death.” –Version of the story from Daniel Quinn’s The Story of B.
In case you have been living under a rock, or in this case, in a pot of boiling water, it was hard to miss the announcement this past May 2011 by the WHO’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), that announced that radiation from cell phones can possibly cause cancer. The agency categorizes personal mobile phone exposure as category IARC Group 2B – “possibly carcinogenic to humans.” This puts this hazard in the same category as lead, engine exhaust and chloroform. In the past two months since the WHO made this announcement, uncertainty exists by many groups and skeptics. According to the journal, Environmental Health Perspectives, “the trend in the accumulating evidence is increasingly against the hypothesis that mobile phone use can cause brain tumors in adults.” However, the data from the study only covered 10 to 15 years of cell phone use, and not that of childhood cell phone use.
WHO will be conducting a formal risk assessment of all studied health outcomes from radiofrequency fields’ exposure by 2012. In the meantime, educate and protect yourself. For a list of steps to protect yourself from harmful cell phone frequencies, please visit the Create Healthy Homes website HERE.