Cordless Phone Radiation Hazards At Home

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October 22nd, 2011
By: Rafael Castillo

Last week we talked about the long-term hazard of microwave radiation from prolonged use of cellular phones. But it’s not only mobile phones that we should be concerned about. Another product of modern technology, which no doubt gives us a lot of convenience, can also be a source of radiation that might contribute to the development of brain tumors later on in life. We’re referring to cordless phones that we use a lot of at home.

The Swedish study we cited last week found that both cell phone and cordless phone users had increased risk of brain tumors. Cordless phones emit the same type of wireless microwave radiation as cell phones. While cell phones receive wireless signals transmitted from cell towers and satellites, cordless phones pick up signals emanating from the antenna on the phone’s base station—right in our own homes.
So the phone base should not be placed in seating areas where people would normally stay. These unsuspecting individuals who sit near the phone base are absorbing microwave radiation more than they bargained for. Insidiously, the microwave radiation is penetrating their tissues and cells, disrupting the normal cellular functioning.

Scientists say that it can cause some changes on the DNA; and it penetrates through the delicate blood-brain barrier, which is a mechanism to ward off “invaders” to the brain. But it becomes powerless with increased levels of microwave radiation.

When we use cellular and cordless phones more than we safely could, just imagine the structures close to it—and that includes the brain, eyes, ears and even the thyroid gland in the neck—bathing harmfully in microwave frequencies. If you have these symptoms—recurring headaches, dizziness, twitching of the eyelids, burning sensation on the face and ears, sleep disturbances, vision problems, neck pain and ringing in the ears—they might be due to excessive cordless or cellular phone usage. Well, not in all cases, but it might be a good precautionary measure to avoid using these phones for a while until the symptoms subside. Go back to the good old wired landlines, and just send and receive messages by texting with your mobile phones.

The above symptoms are short-term effects and are likely to be only transient, but if sustained, long-term exposure to microwave radiation on and around the head has been linked to more serious consequences like brain tumors. There are less convincing data also linking it to visual problems including blindness, deafness and hair loss.

The association of microwave radiation due to these cordless and cellular phones with brain tumors is relatively stronger, with data suggesting that it could increase the risk three-fold for five years, and four-fold in 10 years. A study by the Karolinska Institute in Sweden showed a remarkably higher risk of acoustic neuroma (a type of brain tumor) from the use of mobile phones over a 10-year period.

“Pero ano pong magagawa natin, kailangan po natin ang mga ito (But what can we do? They’re necessary!)” says Joanna Reyes from Caloocan City in an e-mail message. Of course, they’re very useful and we have made them an absolute necessity in modern life (not that they really are!) But we just have to take some precautions:
If we have to use cordless phones at home, the base unit and remote extra handsets must be kept away from where people sit or sleep. (Although some researchers would even caution that the radiation could penetrate through nonconcrete walls.)

Use cordless phones sparingly. Unless one is bedridden or wheelchair borne, it’s much better to walk and get a little bit of exercise, going to where the corded landline is. (Cordless phones and remote control devices are contributing to increased sedentary life and obesity.)
For mobile phones, we already said the use of a hands-free accessory, keeping the cell phone farther away from the head and neck area, is preferred.
Calls must only be made when the message to be communicated cannot be done by simple SMS.

Avoid availing promo offers for unlimited calls by telephone companies, unless it’s financial expediency far outweighs the risk of being tempted to use the phone much longer than is absolutely necessary.

Manufacturers of cellular and cordless phones should be transparent to their end-users about the real and potentially serious risk of microwave radiation due to these phones. It may need legislation to achieve this, but every cell phone and mobile phone user must be properly informed about mounting scientific data linking these phones with brain tumors and other serious long-term complications.

For sure, any of these phone executives would not like their 15-year olds to talk with their friends for hours on end, as some commercials would suggest, and face the risk of a possible brain surgery or even death 10 years hence because of a brain tumor. Certainly not worth it.

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Wireless Group Aims to Block San Francisco Radiation Warning

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A group representing Apple Inc. (AAPL), Google Inc. (GOOG) and Nokia Oyj (NOK1V) asked a federal judge to block enforcement of a San Francisco law requiring wireless phone retailers to post what it called “alarmist” warnings about radiation from mobile devices.
The first-of-their-kind warnings, which say radio emissions are a possible carcinogen, may discourage consumers from buying and using mobile phones, CTIA-The Wireless Association, a Washington-based organization representing wireless carriers and device makers, said at a hearing today. City officials say the rule helps keep residents informed about possible health effects from mobile phone radiation.

“How many mothers are going to walk into a retail store and say, I’m not going buy a phone for my 13-year-old because the city has given me this warning,” Andrew McBride, a CTIA attorney, said at a hearing in federal court in San Francisco. “We feel these materials are alarmist, they contain false statements and will harm our business.”

The group is seeking a court order halting enforcement of the rule pending the outcome of its lawsuit challenging the ordinance. The city agreed at the hearing to delay enforcement until U.S. District Judge William Alsup rules on the group’s request, which Alsup said could happen within two weeks. The law was scheduled to take effect Oct. 25.
Today’s hearing revives debate among lawmakers, researchers and wireless companies about whether frequent mobile phone use can lead to cancer or other illnesses. Lawmakers in Washington said more research was needed after some studies suggested a link between wireless phone radiation and cancer, while the industry’s trade association said scientific evidence has overwhelmingly indicated that mobile phones don’t pose a health risk.

‘Right to Know’
The nation’s first mobile phone “Right to Know Ordinance,” approved by San Francisco city supervisors last year, requires retailers to use posters, factsheets and display stickers saying emission of radio frequency energy by mobile phones is absorbed by the head and body, such energy has been classified by the World Health Organization as a possible carcinogen and consumers should reduce their exposure, according to court filings.

The ordinance violates the U.S. Constitution’s First Amendment right to free speech because it forces retailers to disseminate the city’s opinion, CTIA said. It’s also outweighed by federal radio-wave exposure standards that ensure all mobile phones sold in the U.S. are safe for consumer use, the group said in court documents.

Biological Damage
Radio waves from wireless phones don’t have enough energy to cause the kind of biological damage that radiation from X- rays can cause, the group said. The Federal Communications Commission said there is currently no scientific evidence establishing a link between wireless device use and cancer or other illnesses.“What do you say about” that? Alsup asked lawyers for the city. “The best thing the World Health Organization can say is that it’s a possible. Anything is possible. Let’s put out a brochure about UFOs.”

The comparison “belittles” the work of researchers that have studied the possible health effects of mobile phone emissions for decades, said Vince Chhabria, deputy city attorney.
The information that retailers are required to disseminate is accurate and doesn’t violate free speech rights, Chhabria said.
‘Editorial Content’
“This is not a situation where the city is requiring somebody to alter their editorial content,” he told Alsup. “It’s requiring a company to provide information about a product in connection with the sale of the product.”

CTIA takes issue with 11-inch by 17-inch posters created by the city’s Department of Environment that show mobile phones emitting bright red, orange and yellow rings that penetrate the head and midsection the body and suggesting consumers keep phones away from the body. Retailers that don’t display the posters can be fined as much as $100 for the first violation.

Alsup questioned the suggestion on the factsheet that mobile phone users wear the devices on belt clips to reduce exposure.
“You are saying an eighth of an inch makes a difference?” Alsup said. “I don’t understand the science behind that suggestion.”

User Manuals
Chhabria said manufacturers’ own user manuals make clear that small distances make a difference with long-term health effects.
“The statement about keeping phones away from your body is not inaccurate, it’s not misleading,” said Chhabria.

Words used on the posters, such as “precautions” and “away from the body,” are the same terms used by manufacturers in their user manuals, he said in court filings. CTIA wants that information to remain in the fine print, and not be called out in posters buyers might see when perusing the displays at the local Verizon Wireless store, according to the filings.

“In this age of cell phone ubiquity, it strains credulity to speculate (as CTIA does) that the materials would cause consumers to forego cell phones altogether,” Chhabria said in the filing. “After all, the materials inform people how to mitigate possible risks, so why, armed with these tips, would people want to forgo the phones?”

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