Mobile Phone Radiations Pose Potential Health Risks Study

Mobile Phone Radiation, Mobile Phone Radiation Protection

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A recent study by the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology delving into of the effect of cell phone use on health has raised old concerns about the possible side effects from radio frequencies and the long-term safety of using wireless technology.

According to experts, the constant exposure to the electronic radiation [use of high-energy radiation from x-rays, neutrons, and other sources to kill cancer cells and shrink tumors] that flows from the cell phones and towers into our homes, workplaces, and public spaces is the reason people find themselves battling unexplained ailments, from intense headaches to circulatory problems, and severe fatigue.

The report stated, “People who are chronically exposed to low-level wireless antenna emissions and users of mobile handsets have reported feeling several unspecific symptoms during and after its use, ranging from burning and tingling sensation in the skin of the head, fatigue, sleep disturbances, dizziness, lack of concentration, ringing in the ears, reaction time, loss of memory, headache, disturbance in digestive system and heart palpitation [sensation of rapid heartbeats] .”

The eight-member panel, comprising members from the Health Ministry, Department of Biotechnology and Member Secretary, DoT, also implicated the mobile phone radiations in the disappearance of butterflies, bees, insects and sparrows from big cities.

Some recommendations by the committee
The committee has recommended a ban for mobile phones that do not adhere to standard levels of specific absorption rate (SAR).

SAR refers to the amount of energy radiation that is absorbed by the body while using a phone.

Also, it is imperative that mobile towers should not be installed in close proximity of high density residential areas, schools, playgrounds, and hospitals.

A member of the panel stated, “The localized SAR value as per the Indian guidelines standard is 2 watt per kg, averaged over a six minute period and using a 10 gram average mass.

With higher SAR values of mobile handsets the public could potentially receive much higher radio frequency exposure. We have recommended that SAR levels to be lowered down to 1.6 watt/kg, as prescribed by the Federal Communication Commission of US.”

Kids more prone to the harmful effects of radiation
The report cautions children, adolescents and pregnant women against the excessive use of mobiles and advise the use of hands-free technology to cut physical contact with the body and the device.

Dr. R S Sharma, ICMR scientist, a representative of the health ministry on the committee stated, “People having active medical implants should keep their cellphone at least 30 cm away from the implant.”

According to the researchers, children are more prone to the harmful effects of radiation because their brains and nervous systems are still developing.

In addition, their heads are smaller and skulls are thinner, making it easier for radiation to penetrate their brains.

Girish Kumar, a professor in the Dept of Electrical Engineering at IIT Bombay stated, “There is a 400% increase in the risk of brain cancer [abnormal cells that divide without control, which can invade nearby tissues or spread through the bloodstream and lymphatic system to other parts of the body. ] among teenagers using cell phones for long periods.

The younger the child, the deeper is the penetration of electromagnetic radiation as children’s skulls are thinner.

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Mobile phone networks and the base stations needed to support them are expected to grow with the implementation of 3G technology, and the NRPB study recommends that “monitoring of potential exposures from 3G base stations should be concomitant with the roll out of the network.”

The public also faces ever-increasing RF exposure from wireless LANs, Bluetooth, UWB (ultrawideband), and RFID (RF identification) technologies. “The issue of signal characteristics, in particular the nature and extent to which they exhibit pulsing, remains a subject of public concern,” the NRPB study says.

Despite the concerns raised, the mobile phone industry, as represented by the Mobile Operators Association (MOA), welcomed the study, stressing that “the key point of the NRPB advice is that there is no hard information linking the use of mobile telephony with adverse health effects.”

The MOA was established to represent the five U.K. mobile phone network operators (Vodafone Group, Orange, T-Mobile, mmO2, and Hutchison 3G UK) on radio frequency health and planning issues.

Still, the NRPB study takes pains to point out that the lack of hard evidence does not mean that mobile phones do not pose a public safety risk. “The widespread use of mobile phone technologies is still fairly recent and technologies are continuing to develop at a pace that is outstripping analyses of any potential impact on health,” the study says.

According to the NRPB, data exists that suggests RF fields can interfere with biological systems. The study also pointed to Swedish research that found an increase in the risk of acoustic neuromas, a type of benign tumor, in people who used mobile phones for over 10 years.

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Parents Ignoring Mobile Phone Risks

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Parents of young children are disregarding health concerns and continuing to allow their youngsters to use mobile phones, research revealed today.
The number of children aged under 10 who own mobiles has doubled in the past two years despite repeated warnings over the health risks they pose.
Health campaigners say parents are taking the view that the security that handsets provide outweighs the possible damage caused to young brains from radiation.
Statistics from international research consultancy MobileYouth show that just over a million children aged five to nine in the UK have their own phones.

That figure is predicted to rise to 1.5million by 2007.
It also predicts that this year the number of under-16s in the UK owning a mobile phone will grow to 5.5million – an increase of nearly half a million on last year.

The average age at which a child gets a first phone is eight – compared to 12 in the US.
Youngsters are thought to be at higher risk from mobile phone radiation because their nervous system is still developing, they absorb more energy though their head and are likely to be exposed to emissions for more years.
Sir William Stewart, chairman of the Health Protection Agency, has called on parents to ban under-eights from using mobile phones and wants teenagers to restrict their use and rely more on sending text messages.

Michael Clarke, radiation expert at the Health Protection Agency, said there is a contradiction in parents calling for mobile phone masts to be erected away from schools and then allowing their youngsters access to handsets which expose them to far higher levels of radiation.
Handsets expose users to between 1,000 and 10,000 times more radiation than mobile phone masts. Dr Clarke said: “We feel we should discourage prolonged use of mobile phones.
“There isn’t actually a proven health risk. What we are talking about is the possibility of one emerging after prolonged use.
“Our view is that it is sensible to take a precautionary approach to mobile use, especially in the very young, because it is such a new thing.

“I cannot predict what I might find out tomorrow. Children should not be spending hours a day talking to their friends. Parents are the best people to judge the needs of their children but they should have all the information.”
The UK’s first mobile phone specially designed for children was withdrawn from sale by distributor Communic8 earlier this year after a Government report raised health concerns about youngsters using handsets.
The MyMo phone was aimed at four to eight-year-olds to use in an emergency.

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Today we’re going to pick up virtually any consumer magazine or open any Internet news web site and read about a frightening new threat: That radiation from cell phones is dangerous, perhaps causing brain tumors or other cancers, maybe even cooking your brain like an egg or like popcorn. Most people have no knowledge of science other than what they hear on the news, so we have a whole population growing up with this understanding. Is the fear justified? Do cell phones have the potential to cause physical harm, or are they completely safe? Or, like so many other questions, is the truth somewhere in the middle?

Let’s take a closer look at exactly what kind of threat is being reported. A recent article on CNN.com quotes Dr. Debra Davis, Director of the University of Pittsburgh’s Center for Environmental Oncology, saying that “You’re just roasting your bone marrow” and asking “Do you really want to play Russian roulette with your head?” The article goes on to give five recommendations for limiting your exposure to cell phone radiation: Using a headset, using the speakerphone, getting a different phone, and so on. CNN followed up with another article with more quotes from Dr. Davis, this time saying that children are especially at risk because their brains are still developing, so they should be allowed to use cell phones in emergencies only.

As the director of an oncology center, she must have all kinds of experience treating cancer patients, and since she’s going on CNN to talk about cell phone risks she must have a lot of experience dealing with cancer caused by cell phones. Right? Well, you’d think, but apparently CNN is not quite that particular about their guests. Dr. Davis’ Ph.D. is in “science studies”, whatever that is, and she is neither a medical doctor nor does she have any specialization in physical sciences like radiation. Now, I’m not trying to disrespect Dr. Davis — she has a fine background loaded with experience and all sorts of publications and accolades in her field — but I do want to draw attention to the fact that when CNN brings a doctor onto television to talk about a health problem, you shouldn’t take anything for granted. You’re the one who assumed that she treats cancer patients and has seen harmful effects from cell phone radiation. The fact is that the only danger Dr. Davis actually cited was that “since cell phones have only been in widespread use for 10 years or so, the long-term effects of their radiation waves on the brain has yet to be determined.” Neither she, nor CNN, cited a single case of harm being caused by a cell phone, nor did they present any theoretical arguments indicating any plausible danger.

Dr. Davis is also dramatically wrong on one very significant point: That there has not yet been time for long-term studies to have been conducted, or that the question of cell phones and cancer is otherwise inadequately studied. In fact, the Journal of the National Cancer Institute published the results of a massive study in Denmark that followed the cancer histories of 420,000 cell phone users over 13 years. You’d think that someone in Dr. Davis’ position would know about that, or at least take the slightest trouble to search for studies before going on CNN to proclaim that no such studies exist. The study’s main interest was to search for increased incidences of brain or nervous system cancers, salivary gland cancer, and leukemia. The study concluded:

Risk for these cancers … did not vary by duration of cellular telephone use, time since first subscription, age at first subscription, or type of cellular telephone (analogue or digital). Analysis of brain and nervous system tumors showed no statistically significant [standardized incidence ratios] for any subtype or anatomic location. The results of this investigation … do not support the hypothesis of an association between use of these telephones and tumors of the brain or salivary gland, leukemia, or other cancers.

The lack of any connection is not surprising, given that no plausible hypothesis exists for how a cell phone could cause tissue damage. RF below the visible spectrum, which includes the frequencies used by cell phones and all radio devices, is not ionizing radiation and so has no potential to damage living cells or break any chemical bonds. Microwave ovens, which operate just above cell phones on the frequency scale, work by oscillating such an extremely powerful field back and forth, causing the water molecules to rub against each other and create heat by friction. Cell phone signals are three orders of magnitude weaker, too weak to move the water molecules, and do not oscillate to cause friction. Scratch the heat hypothesis, scratch the ionizing radiation hypothesis, and there are no plausible alternatives. Of course it’s not possible to prove that there is no potential for harm, but all sources of harm known or theorized to date are clearly excluded.

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