Average working adult spends over nine hours a day using a computer, mobile phone or other electronic device.
With a full-time office job, a light social networking addiction and a thumb that texts without your knowledge, it is all too easy to clock up the hours spent with an electronic device in our hands.
In a modern world, we stand engulfed by electronic transmissions and radio waves set off by Wi-Fi and mobile phone signals which can leave us in a battle for our health.
Every day we unknowingly expose ourselves to a constant bombardment of electromagnetic signals emitted from gadgets like mobile phones, laptops, desktop computers, iPads or anything that receives a signal from one of the 800 satellites beaming global information through radio waves.
An Electro Magnetic Radiation (EMR) transmission is an invisible wave in the atmosphere which has both electric and magnetic qualities. Together, these move backwards and forwards in space to produce an acoustic resonance and an electromagnetic field.
We cannot hear them, smell them and, because they travel faster than the speed of light, we cannot even see them. The effects of these transmissions, however, are very much visible in our ever-declining health.
The side-effects from exposure to these EMRs include nausea, fatigue, reduced concentration, tiredness, headaches, blurred vision, short-term memory loss, muscle weakness and an impaired immune system. No one would blame you for ignoring these symptoms, simply putting them down to the stresses and strains of a modern daily life.
Alarmingly, some scientists are concerned that such radiation may cause cancer, brain tumours and early senility.
In 2000, The Stewart Report was published under the guidance of Sir William Stewart, then chairman of the Microbiological Research Authority. An independent expert group was set up to investigate the dangers of mobile phone use.
The report was inconclusive and no solid connection between the use of mobile phones and any negative effects on the body was made.
“The balance of evidence does not suggest that mobile phone technologies put the health of the general population of the UK at risk. There is some preliminary evidence that outputs from mobile phone technologies may cause, in some cases, subtle biological effects although, importantly, these do not mean that health is affected,” the report explained. It concluded that further studies needed to be conducted in the field.
The UK Government responded by implementing some of Stewart’s recommendations and funding numerous studies.
In 2007, over 20 international scientists, health officials and EMR experts collaborated to issue a Bio Initiative Report based on 1,500 individual studies which claimed that there is clear evidence of harmful biological effects which can damage the body’s immune system and lower resistance to long-term serious illness.
Ten years on from The Stewart Report, Wi-Fi is surrounding us, a fate that the Report could not have predicted. People rely on mobile phone use for their work and children spend hours surfing the web. Our exposure to radiation is immeasurable and the damage it is doing to our bodies is still relatively unknown.
Yet, there are small studies which all point to more bad news.
A study published this year conducted by Yüzüncü Yil University in Turkey concluded that there was significant decline in the number of Purkinje cells present in the brains of lab rats tested under mobile phone exposure. The Purkinje cells are essential to the body’s motor function and a lack of them will negatively affect the patient’s movements.
Another research project conducted in the Hospital of the Lidwig-Maxmillians University in Munich investigated the relationship between exposure to radio frequency electromagnetic fields and behavioural problems in children and adolescents. The results showed an “association between exposure and conduct problems” with seven per cent of children showing behavioural problems.
Finally, this year, The National Institute for the Study and Control of Cancer and Environmental Diseases in Bologna published a report which highlighted the increased risk of brain tumours associated with mobile phone use.
Professor Lennart Hardell, of the Department of Oncology at University Hospital in Örebro, Sweden said: “For young adults and children under the age of 20, the risk of developing a brain tumour like astrocytoma and acoustic neuroma is five times higher than an adult with the same level of exposure.” Due to smaller heads and much thinner skulls, children’s brains are far more sensitive to carcinogens which EMRs and mobile phone devices discharge.
Today, the UK Department of Health acknowledges that “there is some evidence that changes to brain activity can occur” and that there are “significant gaps in our scientific knowledge”.
In its information leaflet it advises that “parents should exercise their choice not to let their children use mobile phones”. That alone is no mean feat.
Within all this uncertainty, verging on the side of precaution and protecting yourself from these potentially life-threatening radiation waves is the only way forward.
The European Environment Agency advocates that precautionary actions should be taken, but it is up to each government what level of action is taken. Spokesperson for the EEA, Gulcin Karadeniz said: “It is up to policy makers to judge what level of exposure is acceptable and propose concrete measures.”
In the meantime, individuals are encouraged to make small changes to protect themselves. “Some might accept to have their phone turned off at night, others might refuse to have one,” Karadeniz explains.
“Some of the possible actions are quite easy to take and do not infer high costs,” Karadeniz added.
Something as simple as tilting your mobile phone away from your ear while chatting or using the loudspeaker option is easily done.
Some mobile phone manufacturers even suggest holding the phone up to 25mm away from your ear while using it.
For men especially, keeping your mobile in your trouser pocket has been linked to fertility problems and is best avoided.
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