A controversial topic! On one hand, nearly everyone uses their cell phones and mobile wireless devices (such as iPod) to keep in touch with friends and happening in the world. Teenagers walk around with cell phones seemingly attached to their heads. On the other hand, some people would not use a cell phone, and complain about headaches and miscellaneous aliments purportedly from the electromagnetic waves that invade their bodies. They often make their case to city and county officials. Is the sky falling, or are there real perilous threats? Let’s cut through the hysteria to discover the facts.
It should not be surprising that a person standing right in front of a military radar antenna would be instantly killed, or that a person ingesting a lethal dose of arsenic would quickly die. But what about situations where a person ingests only minute quantities of arsenic over long periods of time, or where a person is daily exposed to very low intensity microwaves? We know the answer in the first case from arsenic-contaminated water in Bangladesh: people developed cancers. In the second case we do not yet know the answer. Will the cell-phone generation die of cancers in their middle and old ages? Will the doomsayers ultimately buy cell phones and sit in WiFi coffee shops sipping lattes? These are the scientific community’s considered opinions.
In 1998 the World Health Organization (WHO) published fact sheet N183 about electromagnetic fields (EMF) and Public Health. It stated that “Current scientific evidence indicates that exposure to RF (radio frequency fields) is unlikely to induce or promote cancers.”
In 2006 WHO published fact sheet N304 on EMF and Public Health. It stated, “Over the past 15 years, studies examining a potential relationship between RF transmitters and cancer have been published. These studies have not provided evidence that RF exposure from the transmitters increases the risk of cancer. Likewise, long-term animal studies have not established an increased risk of cancer from exposure to RF fields, even at levels that are much higher than produced by base stations and wireless networks.” It concluded that “Considering the very low exposure levels and research results collected to date, there is no convincing evidence that the weak RF signals from base stations and wireless networks cause adverse health effects.”
In 2011 WHO’s press release N208 reported that “the International Agency for Research on Cancer has classified RF EMFs as possibly carcinogenic to humans (group 2B), based on an increased risk of glioma, a malignant type of brain cancer, associated with wireless phone use.” One study of past cell phone use showed a 40% increased risk for gliomas in the highest category of heavy users , reported average: 30 minutes per day over a ten year period. (Teenagers and even some adults use their cell phones hours each day!)
A recent report by the U.S. National Cancer Institute (fact sheet of 10/24/2011) gives a different perspective. “Studies thus far have not shown a consistent link between cell phone use and cancers of the brain, nerves, or other tissues of the head or neck. More research is needed because cell phone technology and how people use cell phones have been changing rapidly.”
Surely we want to know about possible threats to our health, whether from electromagnetic fields, chemicals in the environment, or pesticides on our food. It would be wise to exercise caution by using your cell phone less often, because it is a generator of electromagnetic fields right next to your brain. Also, don’t run around claiming that we are getting sick and diseased from cell towers and WiFi signals. Be cautious and be rationale.